05 Apr Scars
Yesterday I was thinking over the many man movies I own and have seen when something occurred to me. Every movie made about great men and warriors of old (think Gladiator, 300,Troy) has a main character with scars on his body. The movie doesn’t always address the scars of the hero unless it has something to do with the plot of the movie but it’s understood that he received them in battles where he stood his ground to fight his enemy and withstood it to fight another day. These scars tell the story though, that these men where hardened by battle and would rise up to fight again if need be.
The men of old had scars that told the story of how powerful and resilient they were. They survived battles and lived to gain strength from them. Today’s male doesn’t have physical scars from battles, he instead likes to talk, dwell ,and wear his emotional scars for everyone to take notice. His scars instead make him powerless and emasculated instead of using them to learn and grow stronger.
Stop Acting Helpless
Guys today have a ton of excuses as to why they’re helpless. I’m talking about the guy who is a coward in life. I’m referring to the guy who sits on his parents’ couch and tells his girlfriend —who misplaces her sympathetic ear — that he can’t find a job, or lose weight, or get his own apartment, or do anything at all because of that one terrible thing that happened to him way back when.
This is the guy whose girlfriend tells him it’s OK because he’s damaged and that she’s there to help him through. He’s cute, like a wounded animal, and she loves helping and trying to fix him. She’ll listen to his endless troubles up until she has to leave for work to ambitiously pursue her own career.
Something happened at some point in man’s history. Some expert of something told men that they have to get in touch with their feelings and that it was no longer necessary for men to “act tough.” After all, we’ve evolved passed that and we no longer need to ignore our needs and emotions.
So here’s the deal — I’m all for self-actualization and self-examination to understand why you do and act a certain way and truly connect with those around you. That’s emotional intelligence, that’s maturity. I like that. I strive for that.
BUT, I don’t like dwelling on what’s wrong with me. I don’t like letting mistakes and hardships become an excuse for not doing anything. I hate that. I refuse to do that.
So to this new, supposedly evolved male, I say, just shut-up. No one wants to hear your inane rambling about every little thing that’s wrong with you, all the time. Tragic things happen to some people and it’s really hard for some people to come back from these deep emotional scars. There are a lot of bastards out there that do and say terrible things to people, to kids, that don’t deserve
it. Some scars will always be there, just like the physical scars of ancient warriors. I get that. That’s ok, but most people can learn from them instead of becoming crippled by them.
Motivational quotes and articles can get old and plain annoying from time to time . Overly zealous people who try to change your life and make you cry with every word that comes out of their mouth ruin it for me and I suspect for a lot of other people. Let’s be honest, a guy talking about ambition, responsibility, self-determined values, or being an emotional warrior gets corny sometimes. I’m sure hearing something like that from me would have the same effect for some reading this. But, this isn’t a motivational speech.
In the book The Warrior Ethos, written by Steven Pressfield, I learned something about Spartan warrior culture that isn’t portrayed in Hollywood’s politically correct version of 300.
They used shame to influence behavior.
Today, shame is only used among men in military and among some athletic teams to influence. In Sparta though, if a young Spartan man avoided a battle, the Spartan women would mock them. That’s not a typo – the women. The women knew, as the men, that they had a duty that wasn’t dependent on how they felt that day and they chastised them for not following through with their responsibility.
I’m a strength coach, not a soldier faced with a real physical enemy. I wouldn’t presume to call myself a warrior of anything. But I’m not writing this to inspire, I’m writing this to shame. If this makes me sound like a jerk, oh well, I don’t care. No one is doing it anymore, and as a result, we have no men anymore who will work for what they want and follow through on their passions rather than let their struggles define them.
Scars Teach, Stop Whining and Look For The Lesson
The problem with inspiration is that most guys work for their goals when they have it and stop trying when it goes —and believe me, it will go from time to time. Take look at every guy who sets out to lose weight or build muscle or strength. They’ll get really into it and be as strict as can be, until it gets hard or something else diverts their attention. Once they get uncomfortable they quit and tell everyone that they have bad genetics or have reached their genetic potential.
Oh yeah, THAT’s why you’re skinny- fat and lazy.
The problem with this guy is that he experienced some hardship earlier in his life and someone out there told him it was OK to quit and that his best was good enough. So he carries his failure around with him and joins the culture of the helpless. After all, if he played a sport as a kid in recent years he got a trophy or ribbon just for showing up. If you think that showing up and being wonderful you is good enough you need to listen to me — you’re best probably isn’t good enough right now. Try harder.
My best wasn’t good enough and my scars could have made me crawl into a hole and die but I instead looked for the lesson that could be learned from them and kept trying harder, often failing over and over along the way. This is how I learned not to be complacent. I had a problem with being uncomfortable just like everyone else so I set out on a path to make myself uncomfortable. I had a horrible stutter growing up but I decided to become a strength and conditioning coach (where my ability to explain myself succinctly is the deciding factor as to whether I have money to eat or not). I was the scrawniest kid on every athletic team I played for and among all my friends, so I decided to powerlift and ended up at 290 pounds bodyweight with a world record. I recently decided that although I was strong as an Ox at 290, I wanted to pursue other athletic endeavors so I dropped down to 235 pounds (my current bodyweight). It’s much, much harder to push the weight I once effortlessly did but I’m coming around and I will return to powerlifting at this weight.
Anyone who knows me understands that I don’t think men should act all big and tough for the sake of it and refuse to talk about emotions. I confide in my wife all the time and tell her about my doubts, anxieties, and scars. But, she knows that the next day I’m going to go out and work harder than I did the day before to support her and show her how much she means to me.
Just like those Spartan warriors lived with their physical scars, you and I will always have our emotional scars. Oh well, get over it. Just like the ancient warriors, your scars should be evidence that we’re the type of men who keep fighting and focus on the future rather than the past, never letting anything be an excuse for not achieving everything we set out to do.
Got an opinion? Really want to hear it. Let me know in the comments.
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