Every Man Dreams of Being a Hero
A man who runs into a burning building and saves someone’s life is everyone’s notion of a hero. Just ask Newark Mayor Cory Booker.
The opportunity to perform that level of heroism, though, is rare. That’s likely a good thing.
Unless your guy is a fireman, policeman or soldier -- all of whom assume significant daily risk -- I would like to suggest an alternate, less perilous path to heorism that is no less heroic.
While few men talk about it, nearly all daydream about performing acts of heroism. And, whether or not a man is conscious of the inner conflict that is his struggle to live his highest ideals, the notion lingers in his male psyche.
Sometimes it’s stirred by conscience, and sometimes it’s simply about making the effort.
And what I have found in my work is that a woman’s loving support can encourage a man to make the effort to connect with his highest ideals and become his own hero.
Slaying Today’s Dragons
The mythological stories of boys becoming men always involve a staggering challenge a young man must face before he can marry the princess.
In mythology, the young man slays the dragon, becomes a man, marries the princess, and they live happily ever after.
A man searches in vain for his path to manhood today because there are no signposts to guide him, no dragons to slay, and no acts of heroism to perform.
But today, instead of slaying a dragon, he has only to slay his flawed notion of manhood to be his own hero and yours.
By becoming emotionally open and honest with himself first, and then with you, he will begin to feel like his own hero, and this empowered feeling will extend to his children, his friends, and coworkers.
He will become a man other men look up to, which is a dream all men share.
The Real Dragon: Emotional Honesty
What if he’s not convinced this is the stuff of heroes? My recent article about men and emotional honesty in relationships received several thousand comments.
Half were from women who universally agreed about the necessity for emotional honesty in relationships.
The men who commented mostly disagreed, and what was revealing is that every one of their reasons for eschewing emotional honesty was fear-based.
That men haven’t slain their dragon (a fear of emotions) is not surprising.
Too many men still fear they’ll appear unmanly because they’ve bought into another myth -- that emotionally open, honest men are weak and wimpy.
Women, you can help change that flawed notion.
Tell your guy you’d consider his exploring his feelings about himself and your relationship heroic, and that when he’s faced this challenge he will have earned the right to be his own hero, and yours too.
I’ve helped men do this work together for twenty-five years, and the change is quickly visible to their partners.
Living My Own Truth
I rejected emotional honesty in all my relationships until I realized I was doing so out of fear, which was so powerful that it blinded me from seeing my potential for heroic behavior.
The notion that I was a coward pushed me to challenge myself and face my fear. My shutdown emotional behavior had precluded me from maximum enjoyment with women.
When I moved beyond fear and embraced emotional honesty with my sweetheart, she rewarded me with her trust.
When I became vulnerable, she became vulnerable, which deepened our relationship and encouraged me to remain open.
Expressing my feelings made me feel free. It also made me feel powerful since I had changed our relationship.
The reward was worth the risk, because allowing me access to her heart turned out to be a remarkable gift.
I’d never felt this depth of love before. I allowed myself to be swallowed up by the passion. I had slain my dragon and the princess, my sweetheart, was mine.
And I’ve noticed that each time I share some painful issue from my past that still plagues me and affects our relationship, she tells me she loves me more because of my openness and willingness to share my truth.
That I could actually deepen the love between us by sharing more of myself became easier over time.
The Male Dilemma
Every man deserves to feel proud of his manhood, but many aren’t clear how to achieve it. Sadly, most men still link their self worth to their net worth.
They are completely unrelated. Self worth is about character, while net worth is about buying stuff.
Telling your guy you recognize the difference will enhance his sense of self worth and help him see the potential for heroism is within his reach.
Perhaps it’s time to share with your guy what you know: that his manhood has nothing to do with money, power, ego, good looks, athletic ability, sexual prowess, or how much stuff he owns.
If your guy treats you with dignity and respect, listens to you on a deep level, supports your hopes and dreams, and maintains a consistently high level of emotional honesty regarding how he’s feeling about you and your relationship, he has earned the right to be your hero.
I’ve worked with men for decades to help them discover their best versions of themselves, their own heroes.
I’m conducting a men’s weekend workshop retreat October 26-28, 2012 in Sonoma, California that’s guaranteed to enhance the quality of every man’s life.
Every man wants to be a hero, and every man can achieve that elevated status by learning how to create deeper intimacy in his relationships through emotional honesty.
A woman who helps her man get onto this path will enjoy the incredible long-term benefits.
Like many men, author and speaker Ken Solin grew to manhood with little idea of what it meant to act like a man. Ken chronicled the two-decade journey of his men’s group in his new book, Act Like a Man—available at Amazon.com in Kindle or print editions. Ken blogs on his website, www.kensolin.com, and is a regular contributor to The Huffington Post.