Written by Lee Watson: There are multiple ways the phrase “man up” can be said, so each person may have their own meaning, use, or understanding of it. In this article, I’m talking about the "man up" or "grow a pair" you might have heard after expressing your emotions, passions, preferences, or concerns about a specific situation, and this “man up” is usually delivered in a disrespectful or insulting way. It can leave you feeling inadequate, resentful, and dismissive of any potential vulnerability. The person who uses this phrase either doesn’t understand or denies the thoughts and feelings that have been expressed, likely because they have had their own thoughts and feelings misunderstood or denied by someone at some point.
This need to “man up” might suggest that being yourself will get you called out and devalued as a member of the male gender, and as a human in general. We might even find ourselves saying “oh, grow a pair” in our own minds when we judge ourselves as not being “man enough” about something. This can become so deeply ingrained in us that we then avoid or ignore our true feelings and passions because we believe they are likely to put a target on our back. As a result we're not being truly authentic, with ourselves or anyone else around us. Maybe you really enjoy yoga, but you hide that part of yourself from the other men and maybe even women in your life to avoid any possibility of them telling you it’s “time to turn in your man card.” You’re then reinforcing someone else’s idea that “real men” don’t do yoga, allowing yourself to remain ashamed of something you enjoy or benefit from, and the people in your life don’t really know who you are as a person. If you show up in your life as the complete version of yourself, unapologetically, then those who are overly concerned about your “manliness” will eventually fall away and those who appreciate the real you will either stick around or begin to show up in your life. People who care and want the best for you will put more thought into their words of encouragement instead of saying the short form of “I don’t agree with your reaction/feelings/opinion on this, but I can’t think of anything meaningful to say here.”
While in university, a buddy and I went home with two girls who lived together. He disappeared into a bedroom with the girl he had been chatting up while the other girl and I hung out on the couch, talking about life. My buddy reappeared at one point, pulled me aside and said, "Why don't you man up and take her to her room?" I felt misunderstood and insulted, on both my part and hers, because I was digging the type of connection we were already sharing. It didn't need to be anything more at that time, but here I was being urged to prove myself as a man by trying to jump into bed with someone. If I had decided that's what I was supposed to do, it wouldn't have been for me, nor would it have been for her, it would have been to fit into what I was expected to do as a man.
When I was around 10 years old, my parents took me to a skate-park for the first time. At one point I fell hard and, despite having all my protective gear strapped on, it was a painful hit. Laying on the ground, I realized that my parents weren't coming to check on me. Afterwards, my dad told me that he wanted to help me understand that they won't always be around to guide me through painful or uncomfortable situations and that I will have to learn to navigate these moments on my own. Looking back, I realize this was my dad’s way of saying "man up," but with more thought put into the delivery. I use this example to point out that it’s possible to receive and interpret the phrase differently from how someone might have hurled it at us. To “man up” can also be understood as being able to properly manage the stresses that come our way or standing strong for something that we believe in, but if we’re just carrying out an action or mindlessly marching past our emotions because “that’s what a man would do,” then it’s time to reevaluate our motivations and intentions. Maybe things just aren’t going your way and someone tells you to “man up” about how you’re feeling or reacting. Walking with your chest out and pushing forward without thinking about it isn’t going to bring much benefit, but taking charge of your situation, dropping any victim mentality you might be carrying, and finding the right people to talk to will give you the opportunity to truly recognize how you’re feeling and determine what you can do about it. Ultimately, though, this has nothing to do with being a man. This is acting from a place of accountability for your human experience, regardless of the gender you identify with. So the next time you hear someone, including yourself, telling you to “man up,” even though it may seem careless, ignorant, or even intentionally hurtful, use it as an opportunity to check in with yourself. Look for appropriate ways to get to the bottom of whatever is causing your stress or emotional reaction in the first place instead of just pushing through it. Be real, be vulnerable, but also be accountable. Don’t quit something as soon as things get tough, remember why you started it in the first place. Being a man isn't about the kind of car you drive, the number of women you’ve slept with, or how emotionally invincible you are, it's got a lot to do with fully showing up in authentic relationships with others and with yourself.
Self-Discovery Tool: by Gaia Morrissette
Write down either in a list or full thoughts form ;
What does it mean to you to be a man? Actions, Thoughts, Feelings and Expectations
What have you learned from society about what it means to be a man? Actions. Thoughts, Feelings and Expectations
Then look at your two lists see where they are the same and where they are different. Ask yourself this question for all the different items; Does this make my life easier or harder?
If you are like wtf is the point of this tool? The answer is so you can start to build self awareness, with self awareness comes choice, power and freedom!
To discover how to let go and change the things that are making your life harder (not in a good way) Lee and Gaia have teamed up to create an EPIC guided online course called “Dawn Of A New Man- Mastery Of Your Life” to support you creating the life that is filled with happiness, confidence, self acceptance and better sex!