If you’re like me then you’re always in the search for answers.
Who am I? What are my values? What does it mean to be a real man? What do I want? (besides a constant supply of pizza, or is that just me?)
Trying to answer all these questions can be a total fiasco. We start having internal conflicts about who we are and how do we fit in relation to those around us? We read books, go to conferences and watch endless Youtube videos about what it means to be a real man without really understanding what drives us and what do we crave for. Although this is good, most of the time we don’t really figure out what do we actually want, we just follow what’s trending and cool at the moment. If a 100 people tell you that you should lift heavy and smash beer cans on your forehead because that’s the manly thing to do, you might just follow that advice without really figuring out your own gifts and especially your needs, that most likely you are struggling to meet.
This journey I’m about to take you on is like a self-awareness bomb multiplied by 1000. The first time I ever did a variation of this, I got happy, I got furious and also a couple of more feelings mixed in between. I was shaken out of my core and forced to take a good look at myself. Our minds have this nasty ability to put us in certain boxes. No matter what we do to feel good, we still feel like we are drifting slowly towards a bad place. Most of the time this happens because we are not honest with ourselves. And most of the time we are not honest with ourselves because we are not really self-aware of what actually drives us. It’s the recipe for a self-reinforcing loop of unknown mixed with frustration because our brain is sending us all the signals that we are on a course for the wrong destination.
But the exercise I’m about to present to you in a few moments is going to act like a lighthouse to remove some of the fog around your mind and shift it towards a more constructive way of thinking where you can rule your way towards the life you want to experience.
Before we start, grab a pen and paper. You’ll need to write stuff down for this one.
Great! Now let’s begin.
Remember a kid from your childhood that you really liked. Actively try to imagine him in front of you. What is he wearing? What is he doing? Now, you can go even a little bit deeper if you want. How does he smell like? What is he saying? What are his facial expressions? How do you feel being around him? What emotions come up? Take a couple of seconds and try to visualize all these elements at play.
Now, remember a kid from your childhood that you really hated. You know who I’m talking about, right? Think about it for a second. Yeah, exactly… that guy. Try to picture him across from the one you liked, almost like drawing a table beneath them, so you could build a comparison between the two. Try to also visualize what is he wearing, what is he doing, how does he smell like, what is he saying and what are his facial expressions. Write down your description.
Now let’s move on.
Remember what you liked about your dad when you were little. What are your most positive memories and things you admired about him? Maybe it was his work ethic, his playfulness, the fact that he always sought to teach you stuff. What is your favorite facial expression of his, what is your fondest memory?
Now, remember what you didn’t like about your dad when you were little. Maybe he was cold, maybe he seemed emotionless, maybe he was an alcoholic. Maybe he was not even around while you were growing up.
Remember the key here is to not construct a certain image artificially on purpose just to make some features seem bigger than they were. Because that would mean judging it so you could achieve your desired outcome. Just write down what instantly pops up without judging it, good things and bad things.
Now think about what you admire in men right now. Then think about what you hate. What are both the positive and negative trends in being a male in today’s society? Write a couple of ideas for both of these categories now.
Moving on think about what you love about women.
What makes you all warm and soft inside when you think about that pretty face in front of you. What are the attitudes that make her seem out of this world for you? Write down a couple of ideas. Now… we’re almost there. Think about what you hate about women. What makes you sad and just bitter in women’s attitude and really gets to you. Write everything down.
Right about now you should have a list with exactly 8 columns. Two for the kids in your childhood, two for your dad, two for the general image of men today and last, but not least, two for women.
Look at that list overall now. Does it feel authentic to you? Does it feel like it speaks your name and holds your feelings, emotions, and sensations inside it? This step is really important before we move forward so make sure that you complete it to the best of your ability before reading below. You can honestly do this exercise only once because once you get your answers you can never go back and change things.
You know who I’m a real fanboy of? (and no! it’s not the guy from the Old Spice commercials)
I’m talking about none other than your one and only proverbial boy, Carl Jung. He was a Swiss psychiatrist and psychoanalyst who build the foundations for almost everything we understand about the human mind. One of his most spread theories is that of the psychological projections.
Now looking at your list, I’m going to suggest that all of those traits that you’ve written down are your projections. All that stuff is actually you. Although it might appear that you are describing other people, in fact, these are all your things. They are all things that are happening inside of you. I actually have a segment about this in my book Cracked – How Telling The Truth Will Save Your Life. Projections are used by people to defend themselves against their own unconscious impulses or qualities (both negative and positive) by denying their existence inside of them while attributing them to others.
For example, the things you admire in men right now. Those are your own gifts that you’re not allowing to shine through you.
The things you hate about men are probably your dark side. They are your weaknesses, the things that you hate about yourself and constantly try to shove back into your subconscious because you know you have also been guilty of those behaviors or might be prone to them in the future.
What about the things you hate about women? Those are holes in your personality that you’re trying to fill. Those are needs that you haven’t figured out how to get met yourself so you’re projecting those needs onto women.
The things you hate about women are actually your own insecurities and your own issues related to the opposite sex. It’s all you.
What about the things you loved about that popular kid that you admired when you were young? Those are the things that you could’ve been also if you just had the courage to express them back then. How about all the things you noted that you hated about that other kid from your childhood? Those are the things that boiled up inside of you because you never truly expressed your true potential back then. The smell you usually associate with the kid you admired are ones that pump up your state. Like in my case, the smell of mint or being in a green forest up in mountains on a cool spring morning. While the smells you associate with the kid you hated, usually remind you of things that threaten your wellbeing, in my case the smell of cigarettes or sweaty socks.
And last but not least, the qualities you admired and hated in your dad act like a roadmap showing you bits and pieces that guide in the direction that you want to develop further as a man. It’s like a compass. More of this and less of that.
Looking back at all the things you wrote down some of them might not seem surprising at all. While others might seem like an attack on your identity. To the mask that you’ve been trying to live up to for so long. Now it doesn’t necessarily need to be all true, and you can argue about the validity of the statements written above but deep down inside if you’re completely honest with yourself you know the truth. This is not an exercise about proving anything to anybody. It’s an exercise about self-awareness. And it’s meant to catch you by surprise because if I would directly ask you to describe yourself that would be your logical mind working instead of your emotional one that is driven by your subconscious.
Awareness builds its own momentum and to master oneself is to master the entire world.
I, for one, had a lot of breakthroughs when I did this exercise for the first time. It made it just a little bit more obvious of where I need to develop further and I also got the chance to help a couple of my friends with this exercise.
As always, write a comment down below or send me an e-mail and tell me about your recent breakthroughs on becoming a better, stronger version of yourself.