Guys normally know what they do, but don’t think much about why they do those things.
This article is for those guys. To help them get more in touch with what’s going on below the surface. And to better understand why guys do what they do.
If that is you, you’re probably leery of talking about touchy feely topics. I get that. And perhaps the last STEPS Journey Blog article on shame went places you’re not used to going. I get that too.
Because, do you know how most men deal with shame? They don’t.
All of us suffer from the effects of shame, at least to some degree. Even if we’re guys, and even if we aren’t aware of it. There are some very important reasons why we should care about that.
Because how we deal with shame affects everyone around us. And greatly impacts our happiness and contentment. And is a key aspect of how we relate to God.
Below are descriptions of 4 types of men. These are caricatures—exaggerations for effect—that portray some common male behaviors to help us better understand why guys do what they do.
I’m pretty sure you will identify, at least partially, with 1 of more of these fictional characters. In fact, my hypothesis is that every man on earth has some of these traits. (Email me if you don’t. I’d just like to know there is somebody like that out there.)
Note which descriptions seem eerily familiar, and then think about them a bit: Do you really act that way? Then, consider a few tougher questions:
- Why do you act that way? (Deep down, what are the feelings of shame involved?)
- What current thinking should you adjust? (How can you change your inner voice?)
Guy #1: “Mr. Right”
He seems self-assured, but may be impatient, critical, demeaning, or defensive if people disagree with him. He believes he is right all the time, which means other people must therefore be wrong.
The one thing Mr. Right can never be is weak! When things are going well, this may come across as arrogance. But, if he senses he is being disrespected, it can lead to hurt feelings, which may then appear as anger, meanness, and even aggression.
Current inner voice: “I must not show weakness.”
New inner voice: “I will be courageous enough to be vulnerable with others.”
Guy #2: “The Worker”
This guy is always busy in the attempt to earn respect. He likely works too many hours on the job, and he may also stay occupied on recreational, community, or church activities as well.
The Worker has to be in control, and he worries about the future. He thinks of himself as self-sufficient, but has a subliminal need to be productive to feed his self-worth and control the future. He is often too busy to take part in family activities or have spiritual quiet time with God.
Feelings of shame from: Needless fears or insurmountable guilt
Current inner voice: “I will prove my value.”
New inner voice: “God is in control, and I surrender my will to his.”
Guy #3: “I’m Somebody”
He craves status and image—acceptance—and money is often a measuring stick of self-worth. Even if things are not going well, maintaining the appearance of “being somebody” drives him.
He wants to be around people because he may feel a bit empty when alone. I’m Somebody is outgoing and likes to talk, although much of it is about himself. He may lack self-control and yield to what seems fun or feels good. He actively seeks opportunities to look good in front of others.
Feelings of shame from: Faulty comparisons
Current inner voice: “I need to feel accepted.”
New inner voice: “God created me special, he loves me, and I have great value just as I am.”
Guy #4: “The Escape Artist”
Often looking past the positives, he lives a life of quiet desperation that can lead to sadness or even depression. He wonders things such as: What is my value? What is the purpose of my life?
The Escape Artist is tired. It has become a habit to numb himself, perhaps with eating or television, or maybe addictions such as pornography or alcohol. He is slowly losing touch with his friends.
Feelings of shame from: Inaccurate perceptions or unrealistic expectations
Current inner voice: “I just want to feel better.”
New inner voice: “I will talk to a few people about how I really feel.”
Hopefully, this exercise was helpful to better understand why guys do what they do. And know that, no matter how many of those behaviors you do, there are steps you can take to get better.
The last article on “How to Escape Living in Shame” described how if we become open with God and vulnerable with other people, we can lessen the effects of shame on our lives. A good start is to understand where your feelings of shame come from, and then work to change that negative inner voice that has been your uninvited companion for so long.
Why don’t you give it a try? You’ll be glad you did. And so will the people around you.
Question: Which of the 4 characters above was most familiar to you?
Action: Pick 1 negative behavior you will work on to get better.