How to Be a Man

May 9th, 2008 by Steve Pavlina

What does it mean to be a man today? How can men consciously express their masculinity without becoming cold or closed-hearted on the one hand… or wimpy and emasculated on the other? What’s the most loving way for a conscious man to express himself?

Here are 10 ways to live more consciously as a man:

1. Make real decisions.

A man understands and respects the power of choice. He lives a life of his own creation. He knows that life stagnates when he fails to decide and flourishes when he chooses a clear path.

When a man makes a decision, he opens the door he wants and closes the doors he doesn’t want. He locks onto his target like a guided missile. There’s no guarantee he’ll reach his target, and he knows this, but he doesn’t need such guarantees. He simply enjoys the sense of inevitability that comes from pushing the launch button.

A man doesn’t require the approval of others. He’s willing to follow his heart wherever it leads him. When a man is following his heart-centered path, it’s of little consequence if the entire world is against him.

2. Put your relationships second.

A man who claims his #1 commitment in life is his relationship partner (or his family) is either too dishonest or too weak to be trusted. His loyalties are misplaced. A man who values individuals above his own integrity is a wretch, not a free thinker.

A man knows he must commit to something greater than satisfying the needs of a few people. He’s not willing to be domesticated, but he is willing to accept the responsibility that comes with greater challenges. He knows that when he shirks that duty, he becomes something less than a man. When others observe that the man is unyieldingly committed to his values and ideals, he gains their trust and respect, even when he cannot gain their direct support. The surest way for a man to lose the respect of others (as well as his self-respect) is to violate his own values.

Life will test the man to see if he’s willing to put loyalty to others ahead of loyalty to his principles. The man will be offered many temptations to expose his true loyalties. A man’s greatest reward is to live with integrity, and his greatest punishment is what he inflicts upon himself for placing anything above his integrity. Whenever the man sacrifices his integrity, he loses his freedom… and himself as well. He becomes an object of pity.

3. Be willing to fail.

A man is willing to make mistakes. He’s willing to be wrong. He’d rather try and fail than do nothing.

A man’s self-trust is one of his greatest assets. When he second-guesses himself by worrying about failure, he diminishes himself. An intelligent man considers the prospect of failure, but he doesn’t preoccupy himself with pointless worry. He accepts that if a failure outcome occurs, he can deal with it.

A man grows more from failure than he does from success. Success cannot test his resolve in the way that failure can. Success has its challenges, but a man learns more about himself when he takes on challenges that involve risk. When a man plays it safe, his vitality is lost, and he loses his edge.

4. Be confident.

A man speaks and acts with confidence. He owns his attitude.

A man doesn’t adopt a confident posture because he knows he’ll succeed. He often knows that failure is a likely outcome. But when the odds of success are clearly against him, he still exudes confidence. It isn’t because he’s ignorant or suffering from denial. It’s because he’s proving to himself that he has the strength to transcend his self-doubt. This builds his courage and persistence, two of his most valuable allies.

A man is willing to be defeated by the world. He’s willing to be taken down by circumstances beyond his control. But he refuses to be overwhelmed by his own self-doubt. He knows that when he stops trusting himself, he is surely lost. He’ll surrender to fate when necessary, but he won’t surrender to fear.

5. Express love actively.

A man is an active giver of love, not a passive receiver. A man is the first to initiate a conversation, the first to ask for what’s needed, and the first to say “I love you.” Waiting for someone else to make the first move is unbecoming of him. The universe does not respond positively to his hesitation. Only when he’s in motion do the floodgates of abundance open.

Man is the out-breath of source energy. It is his job — his duty — to share his love with the world. He must wean himself from suckling the energy of others and become a vibrant transmitter of energy himself. He must allow that energy to flow from source, through him, and into the world. When he assumes this role, he has no doubt he is living as his true self.

6. Re-channel sex energy.

A man doesn’t hide his sexuality. If others shrink from him because he’s too masculine, he allows them to have their reaction. There’s no need for him to lower his energy just to avoid frightening the timid. A man accepts the consequences of being male; he makes no apologies for his nature.

A man is careful not to allow his energy to get stuck at the level of lust. He re-channels much of his sexual energy into his heart and head, where it can serve his higher values instead of just his animal instincts. (You can do this by visualizing the energy rising, expanding, and eventually flowing throughout your entire body and beyond.)

A man channels his sexual energy into his heart-centered pursuits. He feels such energy pulsing within him, driving him to action. He feels uncomfortable standing still. He allows his sexual energy to explode through his heart, not just his genitals.

7. Face your fears.

For a man, being afraid of something is reason enough to do it. A man’s fear is a call to be tested. When a man hides from his fears, he knows he’s fallen out of alignment with his true self. He feels weak, depressed, and helpless. No matter how hard he tries to comfort himself and achieve a state of peace, he cannot overcome his inner feeling of dread. Only when facing his fears does a man experience peace.

A man makes a friend of risk. He doesn’t run and hide from the tests of fear. He turns toward them and engages them boldly.

A man succeeds or fails. A coward never makes the attempt. Specific outcomes are of less concern to a man than his direction.

A man feels like a man whenever he faces the right way, staring straight into his fears. He feels even more like a man when he advances in the direction of his fears, as if sailing on the winds of an inner scream.

8. Honor the masculinity of other men.

When a man sees a male friend undertaking a new venture that will clearly lead to failure, what does the man do? Does he warn his friend off such a path? No, the man encourages his friend to continue. The man knows it’s better for his friend to strike out confidently and learn from the failure experience. The man honors his friend’s decision to reach out and make the attempt. The man won’t deny his friend the benefits of a failure experience. The man may offer his friend guidance, but he knows his friend must fail repeatedly in order to develop self-trust and courage.

When you see a man at the gym struggling to lift a heavy weight, do you jump in and say, “Here… let me help you with that. Maybe the two of us can lift it together”? No, that would rob him of the growth experience — and probably make a quick enemy of him as well.

The male path is filled with obstacles. It typically includes more failures than successes. These obstacles help a man discover what’s truly important to him. Through repeated failures a man learns to persist in the pursuit of worthy goals and to abandon goals that are unworthy of him.

A man can handle being knocked down many times. For every physical setback he experiences, he enjoys a spiritual advancement, and that is enough for him.

9. Accept responsibility for your relationships.

A man chooses his friends, lovers, and associates consciously. He actively seeks out the company of people who inspire and challenge him, and he willingly sheds those who hold him back.

A man doesn’t blame others for his relationship problems. When a relationship is no longer compatible with his heart-centered path, he initiates the break-up and departs without blame or guilt.

A man holds himself accountable for the relationships he allows into his life. He holds others accountable for their behavior, but he holds himself accountable for his decision to tolerate such behavior.

A man teaches others how to treat him by the relationships he’s willing to allow into his life. A man refuses to fill his life with negative or destructive relationships; he knows that’s a form of self-abuse.

10. Die well.

A man’s great challenge is to develop the inner strength to express his true self. He must learn to share his love with the world without holding back. When a man is satisfied that he’s done that, he can make peace with death. But if he fails to do so, death becomes his enemy and haunts him all the days of his life.

A man cannot die well unless he lives well. A man lives well when he accepts his mortality and draws strength from knowing that his physical existence is temporary. When a man faces and accepts the inevitability of death… when he learns to see death as his ally instead of his enemy… he’s finally able to express his true self. So a man isn’t ready to live until he accepts that he’s already dead.

How to Be a Woman?

Now who will write “How to Be a Woman”? :)

I’ll tell you what. If you can write the “How to Be a Woman” article, go ahead and post it on your site, and email me a link to it. Next week I’ll make a post linking to all the quality submissions. Erin and I will select the article we consider the most insightful, and that link will be given special prominence at the top of the results post. So basically the prize is a permanent link and free traffic.

I’ll only link to new articles I believe offer genuine value to the reader (i.e. interesting, original ideas), so don’t bother submitting a sloppily written fluff piece or an old article just to get a link. I’d rather link to 5 thoughtful articles than 50 mediocre ones. If you can write reasonably well, you should be fine.

There are no requirements for how you format such an article (you don’t have to follow the ten-item format above). You can use any personal style you like, including writing a strictly humorous piece. The main consideration is how much value and insight you deliver.

Let’s give this a deadline of about 4 days, so all submissions must be received by 7pm PST (that’s GMT-8) on Tuesday, May 13. I’ll post the results as soon as Erin and I have had sufficient time to review the submissions. I’ve never done this before, so I have no idea how many submissions we’ll get, but I imagine it will be somewhere between 1 and 50.

You don’t have to be a woman to submit a “How to Be a Woman” article, but there’s a good chance it will help.

P.S. If you happen to be offended by all or part of this article, you should be able to find plenty more articles that offend you in the Archives.

Update May 14, 2008:  The “How to Be a Woman” challenge is now closed, so we’re no longer considering new submissions. 52 submissions were received – Wow! Erin and I will read through all of them, and I’ll make a summary post as soon as we’re done.


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