One of the phrases I have come to love since I started working with Men is “Never trust anyone who tells you how to be a Man.”
It is a phrase I try and keep clear in my mind whenever I write articles for the Wild Man Project in order to make sure the advice I am giving is about equipping Men to make themselves healthier and happier, rather than telling them how to be the kind of Men I think they ought to be.
Ultimately, I want to create confident, healthy, happy, and attractive Men, but there are a lot of roads to that result, and most are equal, and have their own unique obstacles. I don’t want to tell Men how to be Men; I want to be someone who gives Men the power to decide for themselves how best to be Men.
This is a fine line to walk, in many respects. Understanding, for example, that men thrive best when they have Male friends, and thus advising Men to make male friends, and providing them with help in the skills to make those friends is one thing. As is letting them know how to spot friends who are damaging to them. It is a completely different thing to tell Men what sort of friends they should have.
Every Man has within him a strong, wise, wild and confident self. That Man is not like other Men; he speaks differently, feels differently, and thinks differently than his peers. He has a different way of showing his strength. He is excellent in a different way than other Men are, because his passions and talents are different.
One of the most destructive habits we have in our culture today is to try to make young Men into some new breed of Man, or to try very hard to teach them how to be Men. Boys are always eager to please their parents and role-models, and are often quick to put away those interests that draw them and those passions that delight them. They ignore the clues that point to the kind of Man they would really want to be, to become the one they think will be loved.
More than anything, what Men need today is a resource that will help them let go of the ideas they have been taught about who they should be, and instead learn to embrace who they really are.
So I want to pose a hard question to you: what messages did you receive as a child about the person you should be? Why do you think people encouraged you to hear these messages? What have you done to live up to those messages? Do you still trust them?