Men – It’s not About Measuring up. It’s about Showing up.

Jul 20, 2015

The journey of awakening to our true nature includes the embodiment of acceptance.

Acceptance of all that is, as it is, cannot fully take root unless it can first penetrate the often hard and protected ground of our own personal truths that are difficult to accept.

Honesty is what penetrates our fortified defenses.

Courage is the power behind the self honesty.

Love is what softens the ground so that the courage of honesty may dig deep.

The ground of ourselves that has been steeped with love and worked with courageous honesty is ground in which true acceptance can take root.

Men can help other men with this honesty, courage and love.

One of my hard truths….

It wasn’t so long ago that in the presence of the amazing men in my life, I often felt like I was engaged in an unspoken and yet pervasive ritual of competition.

There was an underlying and persistent estimation of if, and how, I measured up as a man.

In the presence of men I was endlessly, and mostly unconsciously, estimating my own worth.

I didn’t know I was doing this. It was a strong dynamic of my own particular conditioning. But of course, it colored all of my relationships. Competitive relationships inherently create a distance that inhibits genuine vulnerability, honesty and affection.

This weighing of self worth wasn’t playing out because these men were setting up a competitive environment by overtly jockeying for position of power or worth or judging my abilities and measuring them against their own abilities.

Many men do this, But not these men. Not the good men in my life. Which is to say, the vast majority of the men in my life.

No, this competition was mostly playing out in my own head and was fueled by my own fears and sense of not enough.

You know, that thing that most of us wrestle with to some degree as we measure how we’re doing in comparison to others and how we fit within our families and communities.

These good men weren’t measuring my worth any more than I was analyzing their successes and failings as a measuring stick for calculating their worth or if I accepted and loved them.

The only worth I was judging, or all that concerned about, was my own. 

And if they were struggling with their own self worth, they weren’t acting it out with stereotypical bravado and one-upmanship. We aren’t a community of men that strives to knock each other down to build ourselves up.

Yet somehow I imagined that they secretly saw within me the same inferiority that I felt within myself. If I didn’t feel I measured up, then surely they must share the same conclusion.

We often imagine that others see us with the same harsh criticism and judgement that we can so easily heap upon ourselves.

And if that is how it can play out within a community of generally healthy and accepting men, you can imagine how pervasive and consuming it can be when the expressed male dynamic is blatantly and overtly kicking the emotional shit out of each other.

I know that women do this as well, specific to how they measure up to other women. It plays out in their own unique way. But the experience that I know is my own, in relationship to other men.

If you’re a woman reading this, knowing what often happens in your man’s world may help you better understand his journey. Sometimes even better than he may understand what is so conditionally playing out in his own psyche.

Shift happens.

Today, the illusion of inadequacy that fueled my insidious and enervating competitive comparison with the good men in my life is largely gone.

Greatly faded now is that estimation of self worth based on how I measure up in regards to other men’s successes in: business, relationship, love, health, wisdom, kindness, enlightenment, spirituality, talent, wealth, family, accomplishments, possessions, yadda, yadda, yadda.

If we measure our self worth through comparison to others in any one arena, it is a dis-ease that is hard to contain. When we feel the need to check our progress to see how we measure up in any one arena, that need typically spills out into other arenas.

As well, if we feel less than others in one way, then we’re probably looking for other ways where we can balance the scales and feel some redemption of superiority.

“I may not be as strong, but I’m much smarter. I may not be as successful, but I’m much kinder. He may have more financial security, but his relationships aren’t as strong or healthy as mine.”

It is endless, it is fruitless and it only serves to create distance and separation and diminishes the opportunity for deep connection.

For myself, I can’t tell you the exact moment when this need to compare began to drop away. It has been a letting go that has taken some time and is still in progress.

I know that once I started to feel the peace, the ease, the love and the deep connections that once again became accessible when the comparing stopped, there was no turning back.

Once the dis-ease is exposed, the horror of what has been playing out for so much of our lives creates a very strong impetus to change the nature of the game.

Of course as with all emotional habits, it trips me up every now and again. But now, as soon as the comparison beast arises and I feel its tight and constricting grip, I can stop, take a breath, return to my now cultivated knowing of true self and return to honest presence with these good men rather than dwell in the disconnected relationships of winners and losers.

And while I can’t pinpoint the exact moment when the tide began to turn, I do know that this blessed shift is largely due to my men’s group and the beautiful, honest and loving men that I’m blessed to have in my life.

I know that what helped for this to shift to begin within me was the opportunity to share this hard truth in the company of good men.  I told them my hard truth and they listened.  I told them my hard truth and they accepted me more than I was willing to accept myself.

There are 11 of us now. We meet each month to witness each other without judgement and to listen to each other’s truths.

We meet to say, “Ya, me too” or “Holy shit, I can’t imagine.” or “Good job, I know it’s hard, stick with it.”

We meet to remind each other that it is safe to say “I don’t know.” “I’m scared.” “This is difficult.” “Am I ok?” “Even knowing what you now know about me, do you still accept me?”

We meet not to prove, but to explore. We get it wrong, we get it right, we shine, we falter, we resist, we let go.

We just show up.

And that’s the key.
Ultimately we meet with the intention to just show up.

Not to measure up, but to show up.

We meet to let ourselves be seen and to create space for others to be seen.

Besides the men’s group, there are numerous other good men in my life who have held honest and accepting space as I’ve learned that being a man isn’t about measuring up, it is about showing up – with honesty, vulnerability, courage and more vulnerability.

Men, surround yourselves with good, honest, courageous and loving men who don’t ask you to measure up, but do demand that you show up – as best you can, with the intention to grow and to become a more whole and honest man.

Surround yourself with men who ask courageous questions:

“Can you love? Can we help you love? Can you help us love?”

“Can you be honest? Can we help you be honest? Can you help us be honest?”

“Can you trust? Can we help you trust? Can you help us to trust?”

“What does courage look like and how can we practice it more today than we did yesterday?”

And don’t ever believe that you can win the comparison game of winners and losers. It creates disharmony, distance and distrust.

Because if you’re playing the game and “winning” in some arenas, I guarantee that your need to compare in order to feel worthy means that there are areas where you don’t feel worthy.

You may choose to ignore these areas and discount them as unimportant. But it is tremendously difficult and takes endless amounts of energy to keep the places where we feel that we’ve yet to “measure up” isolated.

There is no upside to trying to measure up to the good men in your life who are willing to share with you their heart and soul. Even when it feels like your efforts bear fruit, that fruit rots quickly on the vine as these critical relationships deteriorate from lack of trust and truth.

Find men who will celebrate the truth of your wholeness, who will bear witness to your shadow and your light, who will ask you to show up and be seen and support you throughout it all.

To do this is to avail yourself to an abundance of powerful and precious possibilities that arise within your relationships with the good men in your life, that no amount of one-upmanship can ever hope to reproduce.


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