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Men and their Inner Gifts

Updated: May 26, 2023

Transforming entitlement, abuse and control into accountability, compassion and boundaries

In this day and age, I see a lot of very valid criticism towards white supremacy, the patriarchy and toxic masculinity. And as a gay white man, and a counsellor for a lot of men, I also see a lot of the ways in which men struggle with our shame, rage, and guilt which has come from the trauma of our past and what the love we were deprived of in childhood. And whilst none of this is an excuse for the impact of our actions upon others or ourselves, I see how this pain can be transformed into some of our most noble qualities: accountability, compassion and protection.

Starting with accountability, it is a gift for many of us to learn where our responsibility begins and ends. When we’re not being accountable we can be abusive and entitled. I see many men who were boys deprived of the opportunity to safely share their tears when they were younger, who internalised their parents divorce and blamed themselves for their parent’s conflict and I see many boys who hurt others in their lives because they’re constantly triggered from their past. When we learn to sit with the pain of our actions and learn to also recognise how parts of our past were not our fault, we transform abuse into radical accountability. When a man is accountable he has the capacity to own his side of the street and also know when to take ownership for the pain he’s caused others and to no longer blame himself from the pain that was unfairly caused by people around him.

As a man learns accountability he’s able to open up to compassion. I want to be clear that this isn’t about providing us with self-absorbed, one-dimensional love and narcissism. This is about learning to accept the parts we like about ourselves and learning to accept the parts that we don’t love about ourselves. The journey to self-acceptance creates greater warmth and harmony for those around us. I’ve worked with many men who struggle with this as they feel like they’ve had a history of drugs, violence towards others and being a failure where they feel like they’d never be ‘good enough’. When men learn to voice their frustrations, internalised anger shame from their past, and accept that they aren’t who they may want to be or where they think they should be in life, there is an opportunity for greater compassion towards themselves. When this occurs, men become more selfless in their love. Acts of kindness towards others no longer feel forced or transactional, they come from a place of respect because it feels good, and not an attempt to gain love to fill a hole that aches to be filled.

Finally, men learn to protect their loved ones rather than control those around them. When men struggle with feeling control in their lives, they resort controlling the behaviour of those around them. This also can take the form of micromanaging their partner’s finances, ordering their children on what to do and turning a family into a fearful military camp rather than a place of safety. When men have learned to accept themselves they can learn to accept others and, instead create boundaries between others. They no longer crave respect, men can create respect for themselves by clearly communicating their fears rather than projecting their fears and invite others in their life to understand what hurts them rather than destroying anything that threatens them.

When I see men, myself included, embrace our inner gifts, we’re able to free ourselves from our past and step into the role we were always meant for.

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