The Idea of a man project is here to address the crisis we see apparent in the lives of men.
Crisis? I hear you ask. Yes, Crisis!
I say crisis because a brief glimpse at the statistics paints the picture of a problem which as a society I don’t think we’ve even begun to address.
Suicide, not accidents at work, disease, murder, or going to war, but suicide is the biggest cause of death to men under the age of 35.
Since the mid 1990’s 3 quarters of the cases of suicide in the UK were committed by men.
You ever see that film Bird box; didn’t it strike you how unnatural an act suicide is – largest cause of death amongst men under 35.
73% of adults who go missing are male – and 87% of the homeless population are men.
We know that men don’t typically seek counselling or therapy, if they use these services at all it’s not usually until they reach crisis point.
Men generally struggle through life’s emotional turmoil alone, and as a result we see shocking statistics of male suicide – undiagnosed depression, anxiety and physical symptoms too late to treat.
‘Whole’ people, – people who are ‘Whole’ are able to contribute more and better within their families and within society at large.
The liberation of men, the healing of men is tied to the liberation and health of the women who have to interact with them.
If as a society we’re concerned about women’s issues – as we should be, we must recognise women deserve a healthier brand of man.
And as men we deserve healthier, more integrated, self-realised versions of ourselves.
But how do we get there?
Perhaps we need to start with the inverse, let’s ask and answer the question how did we get here?
Charles F. Haanel in his life changing book ‘The master key’ states; “To change the effect you must change the cause. – You will see that this is a radically new and different idea. Most men try to change effects by working with effects. They fail to see that this is simply changing one form of distress for another. To remove discord, we must remove the cause.”
So what has caused the current crisis that these harrowing statistics present.
Well let me first of all assert; – “It’s not one thing!”
In fact, there are numerous factors which contribute to this current state of affairs.
We’re not going to list them all here. However, what we are going to do in laying this foundation for The Idea of Man is give us as men a frame work from which we can launch our own personal counter attack against the forces that seek to unwittingly undermine our mental, physical, spiritual and emotional well-being. And reduce us to little more than statistic’s.
It’s time brethren if we are to survive to gird up our loins, pull ourselves up our boot straps, and arm ourselves to wade into the maelstrom before us.
One of the factors as I spoke about in the introduction to the Idea of a Man project is; The pain of imposed definitions – The pain that comes from having your identity spoon fed. Of being a grown ass man and somewhere simmering beneath the surface all too aware that you are not who you’re supposed to be. That the life you’re living is a roller coaster of reacting to this one or that one. And that you can’t remember the last time you expressed the raw, authentic, undiluted version of yourself.
I’m not talking about millennial snowflakes having identity crisis, or hippies trying to find themselves, I’m talking to all individuals everywhere under the sound of my voice who identify as male and who have felt the pinch of conformity. Or the sting of not being accepted or acceptable as the unique individual that you are.
This is not an excuse to not develop yourself, or grow and expand your horizons, nor is it an exhortation to as it were – let it all hang out, be lazy and apathetic and pay no attention to how you show up – in fact it’s quite the opposite, what I’m talking about here is being more conscious of what’s going on in the world inside and how we express that truth on the stage which is the world outside.
What I’m asking for is the answer to the question; What did you come as?
See, if we’re going to be able to answer this fundamental question of our identity we need to establish what in fact makes up an identity.
First of all, let’s be clear if you exist as a living, breathing human being on planet earth you have an identity.
This is important because as living conscious beings with the ability to impact other living conscious beings by our lives, our talents and contribution and by the many unique attributes that we individually bring to the table. A little self-awareness will go a long way in enabling us to be intentional in our interactions with others in order to obtain the fulfilment we desire and to impact others by sowing the kinds of seeds into their lives that prepares the ground for a harvest of cooperation, collaboration and harmonious interaction.
Every unique identity consists of Body, Soul and Spirit.
The Body perhaps doesn’t need a huge amount of introduction as existing in this physical dimension we’re pretty aware of the physical body that accompanies us on our journey.
Our soul however may require more introduction even though it is such an integral part of who we are.
Your Soul or personality is made up of three main ingredients – your mind– your heart, and your will.
Not unlike the word ‘Soul’ the words Mind, heart and Will are quite existential descriptions.
So let’s say it in a more academic, scientific, psychological way, the word Soul can very easily be substituted with the word – personality. The components of the personality are the conscious mind, the sub-conscious mind and the fact we have agency or the ability to make choices (The Will).
All these attributes are enthused by the third person of our trinity; The Spirit!
It’s imperative that we get a handle on this issue of ‘Spirit’ and the role it plays in our lives. – The saying goes we are not bodies having spiritual experiences, but spirits having physical experiences.
To grasp what this saying means let’s assert that just like ‘The Soul’, The Spirit exists on a plane beyond the physical dimension. Neither Spirit nor Soul can be classified as physical entities.
I mean have you ever seen a personality, a mind or a heart?
I’m not talking about a brain or the heart that pumps the blood, I’m talking about the mind we think with and the heart with which we feel!
We see the effects of Mind and Heart but these are not physical, material, quantifiable organs like the brain and the heart that pumps our blood. The conscious and subconscious mind exist in a dimension beyond the physical.
Therefore, thinking and experiencing emotions are spiritual activities.
Suddenly we realise that human experience therefore, is not a physical thing, our very ability to experience existence, to be aware of existence requires interaction with a dimension beyond the physical, hence the description – spiritual beings having physical experiences.
Life itself is experienced from the spiritual dimension.
Therefore, our conscious awareness of this reality characterises how we consciously live our lives.
If we are ‘conscious’ of the fact, w are spiritual beings our lives will be characterised by spiritual reality also known as – Spirituality!!
Until however we become aware consciously of our spiritual nature it’s natural for our lives to be characterised predominantly by the physical dimension.
The Soul or Personality of a person is characterised by which dimension (Physical or Spiritual) it is more conscious of.
Understanding that ‘Who You Are’, your personality, the expressions of ‘you’ which characterise your interactions in the world exist outside of this world, or beyond the physical dimension gives the soul an awareness of a higher dimension of consciousness. A higher plane of experience from which to draw.
A myriad of wacky and wonderful methods of drawing on the spiritual dimension immediately present themselves. Humankind has been fascinated by this perspective since time immemorial, and there has always been any number of gurus and holy men selling their brand of spiritual practice in order to capitalise on the awakening of the human soul, with a desire to direct its energy to benefit their pockets.
That being said when we consider the facts as I have described them concerning our personalities existing beyond the physical dimension how should we then live our lives
Is there any possible benefit that can come from these considerations? A take home or a useful insight we can deduct from these ruminations to enable us to live more productive meaningful existences?
Or is this all just shooting the breeze, flexing our intellectual prowess and comparing how deep the lengths of our philosophical musings can go.
I believe there are practical take homes we can derive from spirituality, and particularly when it comes to the area of discovering and expressing your unique identity.
You see when you realise that you are Spirit and therefore divine, you have just been initiated into a plane of experience which presents you with limitless options, tremendous possibilities, and myriad opportunities.
In fact, a considerable amount of self-esteem issues and feelings of inadequacy, lack and limitation could be resolved in the area where it matters most – Our minds – If we grasped this reality and altered our perspective to see that in fact – we are divine.
Divinity is the thing that makes us all equal, it’s what makes human life sacred and demands that it’s revered and treated with utmost respect.
No particular individual can claim supremacy over other individuals, our diversity making up the gorgeous collage of unique individuals are all various expression of the divine.
And when I say Devine, I’m not talking about some deity a religion has concocted, I’m talking about the fact that you will never stand before a higher authority than the Spirit that is you.
Spirit is neither male nor female, but is the life force of the universe, permeating and sustaining all of life.
Spirit does to human life what electricity does to electrical components.
Spirit enables us to express and realise the purpose for which we are uniquely destined.
I don’t regard the bible as the final word on life, spiritual matters or identity to be brutally honest, however it says a couple of things we may find helpful in this discourse. It says that God is Spirit, and a couple of key biblical figures declare – You Are Gods, King David in the book of Psalms and Yahshua quoting him in the gospel of John Chapter 3 vs 4 both declare this gravely misunderstood, marginalised and subverted poignant point. Clearly there is no contradiction because when you allow your soul to be characterised by the fact that you are Spirit, essentially your personality is being characterised by the fact that – You Are God.
The difference to use an analogy from Charles F. Hannel again is simply one of degree, just as a drop from the ocean is made of the same stuff as the ocean, so you are part of the whole which is the divine animating principle of the universe.
Come on now! you can get excited about this stuff, if you grasp what I just said you’ll realise that you no longer have to wait for someone else to define your identity and label you with their brand or ideology. You can damn well brand yourself.
It’s time to claim back this gift of life you’ve been given and recognise the extend of autonomy you have as an individual. It’s no one else’s responsibility to define you, to dictate terms in which to encapsulate your personality. It’s time to take back the reigns and define yourself. For someone out there it’s time to take a name and name yourself.
Let me ask you again; What did you come as?!!
Spirit is the life force of the universe. It, as we explored in breaking down the components of The Soul exists in a dimension beyond the physical, we can’t stress that enough.
A helpful way of considering Spirit is almost like a life force or vital energy which animates and creates.
Consider the other force we mentioned earlier – Electricity – which animates different electrical devises to fulfil their unique functions as designed by their creators. A hoover to clean your carpet, a sound system to play your tunes, your kettle to heat your water etc.
Likewise, Spirit animates our Souls and bodies to fulfil their unique life purpose as originated by the creator which is Spirit itself.
Spirit is limitless potential, just awaiting the instruction of enlightened conscious souls to direct it to create lives for them which have meaning to them. Lives characterised by the individual tastes, yearnings, hopes and aspirations of the individual.
Discovering and therefore knowing who you are is about empowerment. It’s about putting a stop to apologising for your existence, your existence doesn’t require explanation. Peoples ignorance or inability to comprehend is an issue they’ll have to address with themselves in their own time. All the universe is asking of you is that you ‘Be yourself’.
Practical tips to ascertaining who you are would be useful at this point in the discussion.
Practically; I’ve been encouraging you as a foundation – to identify as Spirit. Rastafarians have a useful term to convey this concept, they refer to themselves as ‘I and I’ taking into consideration the fact that human experience straddles the physical and spiritual dimension. Both are ‘I’ and through ‘consciousness’ being woke (waking up and growing up) we recognise that there is no separation. The Physical ‘I’ and the Spiritual ‘I’ is still ‘I’.
But personalities come metaphorically in different shapes and sizes, or express themselves in different ways. Which is why the Swiss psychologist Carl Jung wrote Psychological Types. Myers Briggs and her daughter later developed a system to differentiate 16 different personality types. Finding out which one you are and getting some insight into your resultant strengths and weaknesses can be a useful exercise.
Another useful tip comes from the people who do the gallop poll in the United States. They put out a book called ‘Now discover your strengths’, which speaks about the fact that parents, education and society often make us focus on our weaknesses and we spend our energy trying to overcome those apparent weaknesses, it illustrates a powerful concept however, that numerous successful people have achieved success not by focussing on their weaknesses but on their strengths and making their strengths even stronger.
So they have a test you can do to help you identify your five key strengths and focus on developing those, as opposed to wasting years of your time and energy doing things which ultimately you were never put on earth to do.
Have you ever thought why am I hear, what on earth is the point? I can assure you if there is any reason behind the seemingly random events that makes human experience what it is, it was not so that you could ignore all your natural inclinations and subvert your innate character in order to meet somebody else’s criterion and fit conveniently into somebody else’s idea of what they could potentially use a man for.
Some people use tools like Astrology, and Numerology and there are various other existential means out there to assist you in discovering yourself. But once it’s all said and done we need to take this information and practically work it into a plan of action. We need to decide this is us and this is very much not us. This is what I want, and this is very much not what I want!
That way when life or people or situations are seeking to pressure us into various moulds and modes of living that are not in alignment with who we are and are incongruent with our true purpose. We can politely decline and be an adult and make choices and decisions that steer the direction of our lives toward the destination for which we have decided we want our lives to go.
Each day ask and answer the question for yourself; ‘What did you come as?’
Are you living in alignment with your unique purpose, are you growing each day into the individual that you were uniquely designed to be? Are you discovering and introducing to the world yourself or are we seeing simply a caricature an act and a façade?
Ultimately the question we need to ask ourselves is if or not our entire life is simply a reaction to the swirl of external circumstances and the winds of emotions and activities surrounding us. Or if as a result of drawing from the resources of Spirit within us we are able to transcend the noise and turmoil, the dysfunction and neurosis of other people’s limited consciousness and express our reality in such a way that we obtain both personal fulfilment and the ability to provide an undiluted contribution that ultimately benefits those on the receiving end and us on the giving end.
Only then is it ‘more blessed to give than to receive’ because to give of your unique gift is never a chore, being yourself will be the most challenging, rewarding, fulfilling and exciting thing you’ll ever do, and probably also the easiest. The hardest thing may be getting the permission.
As of today therefore I want to encourage you to give yourself permission to be yourself. To look yourself in the eye and say; You and me baby – were going to be okay.
And be your own greatest fan, and your own primary investor, assume mastery of your own ship, and steer that vessel come what may in the direction you know intrinsically to be right for you.
The world is full of predators and prey those seeking to exploit the apparent weaknesses and inadequacies they identify in others. And those who don’t recognise their divinity and power and their immense value and therefore they fall prey to the predatory machinations of users, abusers, usurpers and vamporous narcissists.
Overcoming this cycle of the dog eat dog world, requires a mature (grown up approach). A process we need to embrace if we are to transcend the predator and prey life cycle is that of ‘growing up and waking up’. Waking up is essential, because for too long human life exists in a hypnotised stupor of societal conformity.
Growing up recognises your right as an adult to have autonomy and to take responsibility for your own existence.
To think outside the box and exist with the dignity and self-respect that comes only from a confident awareness that you ultimately decide your fate, you get to choose what’s right to wear today, what behaving like a man looks like to you and what if any inspiration or not you wish to draw from fellow human beings living out their human experience in proximity to you.
The books you read, and people and movements to whom you subscribe should be a reflexion of your deepest held understanding of who you are. And when you live from this place of authenticity and genuinity you have a deeper respect and appreciation of those doing the same.
They may not align with your Idea of a Man, and they don’t have to. Being authentic and living your truth need not infringe on anybody else’s truth.
We fall back into the predator and prey life struggle when we lose sight of the fact we live in a world of abundance and there is room enough for us all to express ourselves and live our lives.
We are all expressions of the one Spirit, you don’t see your hoover rising up and attacking your hair clippers, they accept and respect each other’s unique functions. Likewise, as human beings plugged into the source you do you, over there while I do me over here, and we all make the world a better place. Our contrast, rather than clashing compliments and enhances the tapestry, and evokes a harmony of coordination and inspiration from which we can all draw and become greater versions of ourselves.
It’s no good you seeking to be my idea of a man if you intrinsically are wired differently and your entire temperament and predisposition, lived experience and motivation come from totally divergent sources.
However, if I’m secure in my own skin and comfortable about who I am, there is no reason why I should be intimidated or put out when I encounter someone who differs from myself.
No one has the right to dictate how another should express their truth. Leadership in any form should concern itself with how best to enable unique individuals to realise and express their truth in as many ways as possible.
If your tormented and dysfunctional and all your inclinations and proclivities are destructive to yourself and others. You particularly may need to hear what I’m saying; What frustration are you harbouring? What unrecognised potential have you not been allowed to express? Who never told you that you were good enough just as you are?
The pain of imposed definitions begins its harrowing work very early on. Many of us are still suffering from the compulsion to just be a good little boy. To keep quiet and out of trouble, so in order to keep the peace we learn to hide our truth behind layers upon layers of learnt behaviour, while other react quite differently, shunning the passive aggressive they become simply aggressive and assert their ‘masculinity’ in many risqué and abrasive behaviours never putting to bed the seething and anger which arises when our anxiety overwhelms us.
Both approaches are reactions to anxiety, the natural state of the soul in a world you didn’t choose to be in, hurtling toward the ultimate demise (no one gets out alive). All the while choices and decisions abound. But if you choose (A.) you don’t get to have (B.) and if you choose (B.) you don’t get to choose (A.) – Having your cake and eating it is the privilege of the few and far between, and likewise few and far between are the occasions when having your cake and eating it is a viable option. Most of the time, it’s either this or that. And this oxymoron presents a dichotomy in life we can call the rock and the hard place.
So how do we transcend the anxiety in our heart’s gnawing away at our subconscious experience. We draw from the dimension of our experience that is ever present and effervescing – the Spirit within us which is ultimately transcendent and we rise above our anxiety and respond to life with equanimity, poise and the bold awareness that what I came as is what I choose to come as, and what I’m doing with my life is what I want to do.
Having done the home work and ascertained your true values, come to terms with your own strengths and weaknesses. It’s time to invest in your strengths and rather than trying to fit the square peg of your life into the round hole of someone else’s Idea of a man, it’s time to declare this is who am I as we embark on the journey to discover where then do I fit.