To fulfill our potential requires not just commitment and dedication for success. It also requires us to deal with our perceptions of ourselves and our belief or understanding of our strengths and weaknesses. Perspective is needed to balance such things as our talents or lack of interest. Our weaknesses need not drive down our self esteem. Everyone has strengths and weaknesses. It’s also a matter of orchestrating our motivation with self esteem. And it is often not so easy to understand our strengths and how they may benefit us. The bottom line is that management of the self involves management of an orchestra.
We cannot all be talented in the same way. Where we do not have talent we may have lack of interest or commitment or we may view something as inessential. Men have sports heroes and we are instructed to admire and follow in their footsteps. But some of us are not interested and where formerly this may be seen as an inadequacy or a weakness it can be transformed into a view of lack of interest because there are other talents which offer potential for growth and satisfaction. The confinement may be in what men do to each other. Part of the question relates to recognizing the extent and diversity of effects on each other. All too often there is an enforced lack of introspection especially if the issue is not to be discussed.
And Then There is the Sexual Arena
Now before us we are seeing considerable evidence of the issue of male sexual abuse. Boys may ask each other, “Did you get any?” This is a depersonalization of women and helps lay groundwork for abusers. This question comes from the outside and, if the young man has values which indicate to him that he wants to not treat women as objects, self esteem may come to be at question.
Establishing a Useful Focus
As the sexual abuse scandals have become highlighted we see a central focus on males exercising power. We need to not overlook the other possibilities and it would need to be central to male group discussions. For many men it is not primarily a matter of power but one of THEIR self esteem. And when women step forward and talk about how they were abused they are too often punished and shouted down which makes matters worse.
We need to recognize that men may push and harass women sexually not because they are exercising power but because they feel powerless and inadequate. In short, it may be compensatory.They hope they may prevail and feel more powerful or worthwhile. Just as when Trump strikes out because his narcissism isn’t being fed. These behaviors can be more indicative of insecurity, fears, powerlessness and personal flaws rather than an exercise of power. They reveal weakness. These men may avoid despair by attempting to reassure themselves and their worth. Otherwise they can collide with a personal negativity.
Self As Trash
If a man believes he is trash then the subjugation of others may enhance, for the moment, their feeling of their own worth. But these kinds of self disregard can be assuaged only temporarily. Self concept and what we believe in ourselves is a virtual statue of self image we carry with us. And if it is dubious or negative then it must be supported and dealt with over and over because there is no event in day to day life which will thoroughly mitigate it unless there is a thoroughgoing search of the meaning and substance of ones self regard and belief. And men, when they are willing to search and admit can help each other with this problem. And so we return again to the meaning and need for men to self examine together. We share these flaws in self and in male culture. One of the leading indicators of this problem being underlying is seen in the man who must always receive praise and adulation. Enjoying recognition and celebration is one thing but the insistence and extent of need indicates a personal flaw.
The Bottom Line
If all the above seems complicated, it is because it is complicated. We need to examine these various themes and lay them out before us. If we focus only on power, we lose track of the variety of things which feed the dysfunction. We have our work cut out for us.
How often have you been able to perceive this process in men?
Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called: Women in Power by Roger B. Burt
Roger B. Burt’s Amazon home page
Creating Characters and Plots by Roger B. Burt
Stepfamilies: Professionals and Stepcouples in Partnership
Whatever Happened to Community Mental Health by Roger B. Burt