Blows to your confidence as a man can take on many forms -- criticism at work, problems within your family or on the dating scene, or even negative self-talk that has looped in your head for years. Once you've identified the triggers of a lowered view of your masculinity, you can begin the process of reviving your confidence.
In his book, "The Secret Lives of Men: What Men Want You to Know About Love, Sex, and Relationships," psychologist Christopher Blazine identifies 10 common misunderstandings embedded in the mindsets of many men. Among these is the belief that the masculinity of a man without a male role model is somehow scarred. Though you may feel self-conscious regarding your masculinity if you lacked a consistent and supportive father figure growing up, you can help remedy this by selecting your own role models. At any age, it can be helpful to look up to those individuals who embody your own views of ideal maleness. Even more helpful can be choosing those with the ability to provide constructive feedback and encouragement.
Develop Your Male Strengths
Self-reliance and courage are among the masculine strengths named by researchers Mark Kiselica and Matt Englar-Carlson of the College of New Jersey in their study on positive psychology/positive masculinity, or PPPM, in the journal "Psychotherapy." While not universally valued among men, these characteristics are integral to self-confidence for many. If this is the case for you, think of ways to strengthen these qualities in your life. If your career doesn't necessitate relying on yourself and being brave to the extent you would like, plan a mountain climbing adventure that will fulfill these needs.
Your roles in the contexts of family and relationships may bear strongly on your masculine confidence. Examine your expectations for yourself regarding your friends, relatives, children or girlfriend. Subconsciously or otherwise, you may hold yourself accountable for traditional male tasks, such as financially providing for loved ones and being a disciplinary figure for your children. If circumstances have led to your feeling side-lined in these self-appointed tasks, appraise your expectations of yourself within the context of reality to determine their appropriateness. If you still approve of these role-related expectations but feel thwarted in some way from fulfilling them, try openly discussing your needs and working toward a solution within your relationships.
Do It Your Way
There are many mixed messages, and some outright negatives ones, about masculinity that circulate in society. You have most likely, at some point, picked up on these ideas of being male along with impressions from your own family and friends. Take a page from the feminist movement by reminding yourself that there is not a solitary, correct mold for all men. For some, masculinity translates to prowess in sports and being emotionally stalwart. When you come to accept that masculinity can also mean being a good cook, a loyal friend or even a mural artist, you will gain confidence in yourself not only as a man, but as an individual.
- The Secret Lives of Men: What Men Want You to Know About Love, Sex, and Relationships; Christopher Blazina, Ph.D.
- Psychotherapy: Identifying, affirming, and building upon male strengths: the positive psychology/positive masculinity model of psychotherapy with boys and men.
- Positive Psychology News Daily: Dare We Let Boys Be Boys? Positive Masculinity and Positive Psychology
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