Tuesday, September 5, 2017
The Need For Manly Affirmations
Just in the last few years I came to realize some basic things about my personality that I have struggled with for a long time. Thanks to the ManKind Project and Journey into Manhood, and Journey Beyond I have a better understanding of who I am and why I struggle with certain things.
I, like most rush through life and push aside feelings and move forward ignoring basic needs and frustrations. I told myself for many years that I was weird, and different then most men. It effected my self esteem and my life.
There are some processes in life we ignore and yet when faced with them we learn a lot about who we are and why we do the things we do. MKP has been huge benefit in my self discovery. I have to come to realize one of the major reasons I have sought Manly Affirmations for most of my life was greatly due to the fact that most of my life I lived devoid of them, especially during the most important part of my life. As children we desperately need positive affirmations, especially from the men we admire and love.
It was like a huge light coming on for me when I realized that for the first 18 years of my life it was mostly devoid of Manly Affirmations. I guess I should give my definition of Manly Affirmations. To me a Manly Affirmation is as simple as kind words, positive words, word of encouragement, healthy touch, words of love, words of appreciation, kindness that is real and not based on wanting something in return gotten from men in our lives.
My home life was hard. My father, a good man, did not understand me at all. I was so far off his radar for what a son should be that he was not able to give me what I needed. And I have to add that my father was raised by his grandmother, an amazing woman, but did not model for him how to be a father. The community where I lived was harsh, school was torture for me each day, from the students to the teachers, I never remember once having a kind word ever spoken to me from anyone at school. Actually there were a few, but I was in such a bad place I couldn't take them. I tried different things to get the approval I needed, but on every attempt I failed. Even church offered nothing for me that I needed. I would go by my self because my need was so strong to be approved and most often I would come home feeling worse. Because my parents were not active members and my mom was actually the bartender at the local bar, I was shunned and treated badly. When adults have grudges against adults, it usually is past on to the child. That was how it was for me. I was judged by what people thought in their minds and had I no chance to prove myself.
I grew up aching for the approval of men. To be accepted and approved of by men was so important to me. I just wanted to be liked and shown respect from men.
I must state here that my desire for men connection was not for a sexual relationship with them, that has never been my desire, although through the years it was offered often, but that was not my intent or desire. I wanted to be acknowledged by men as a man. From work to church I sought acknowledgement in a positive way. At the time and still society has a hard time understanding and accepting anything that is not what they consider the norm. At the same time they are quick to label them with labels that hurt deeply and cause permanent damage.
In my community, from church, school, work, and home, I was called sissy, girl, faggot, wimp, baby, cry baby, weirdo, and many other names that hurt me deeply. I have to say the majority of it came from men and boys in my community. I was teased, beat up, spit on, ignored, pushed around, laughed at, and abused verbally, sexually, emotionally, and physically. Again mostly by men and boys in my community.
The pain of those days and experiences have plagued me for years and years. The pain was deep and even when I thought I was over it, it would come back in full force to haunt me and cause pain and discomfort in my life.
The reason I share is not for the reader to feel sorry for me but to perhaps help them to see just what kind of damage our words and actions can have on those around us. The little acts we do each day when compounded by little acts around us can create damage that can last a life time and effect many in ways we cannot even begin to understand.
I am sure those that abused me had no idea the damage they were causing. They were just following cultural norms and the crowd.
We need to be careful how we judge those around us and especially we need to make sure we watch the words that come out of our mouths. Our actions and words can cause endless sorrow and pain or endless joy and happiness.
So back to the story, In my life I came to understand that core needs are non negotiable, meaning for me a core need is to be affirmed by men. This can happen in many ways and often times in our culture the need is transmitted into inappropriate actions. Many believe that when a man voices those needs his desire is to have sexual relationships with men.
Affirmations need not be sexual and in truth sex is not an affirmation that often builds and lifts. Good affirmations are words of encouragement. Quality time spent. Appropriate holding and touch is a very strong affirmation. Appropriate means non sexual touch. Examples and good friends ships are also great affirmations.
For me to be heard by a man or hugged by a man or to be understood by a man is an amazing thing. For a man to recognize and verbally tell me the good they see in me totally makes me feel affirmed. I get frustrated when needing to be affirmed by a man are confused with wanting sex from a man. They may appear alike, but are totally different. To be gay is often to want to have or desire to have a sexual relationship with a man. For me to be affirmed is to want a spiritual connection and a deeper level friendship that exceeds that "Pat on the Back" style of friendship. There are many men who seek affirmation with men and not a sexual relationship. As a cultural we need to let that happen and not judge the choice of either. We need not assume that all Affirmation seeking men are gay or want to live that life style.
I must say there are no judgments on my part if that is the choice someone makes. I am saying that as a culture we assume to much and in the process men are not connecting in a healthy way for fear of being branded or fear of not being understood.
What we need to understand is that when a man has a core need to connect on a deeper level, not doing so causes more harm then we can imagine. Men that are denied those kind of friendships tend to struggle with self esteem problems, (me) or have struggles with pron and other addictions. When needs are meet in a healthy clean way, men most often are stronger and better adjusted in life.
I often think about the difference Manly Affirmations have had in my life. I have been able to be a stronger better man from the peace that has finely come into my life as I have accepted and embraced my need for healthy non sexual friendships. I have discovered that most men crave this type of connections. It is not just a gay thing, it is a Man Thing. We all need approval and acceptance in our lives. As a culture we need to be more open and accepting of those around us. We need to make sure those around us are affirmed and loved. From home to school, from work to church, we can change the course of a mans life simply by giving Positive Affirmations, and Manly Affirmations to the men in all parts of our lives.
I am a man and for me Manly Affirmations have changed my life and given me the power to stand up and be a better man. I love all my men friends that over the years have been there for me and supplied what I so desperatly needed and craved as a child and young man. Who among us is struggling with the need to be affirmed and loved in a positive healthy way by a man. Look around and come to understand that we all need positvie affirmations. Are we taking the time to lift, build, comfort, encourage, love, or are we to busy passing judgements to see what the real needs are.
Manly Affirmations change lives. At least for me, my life will never be the same.