Unhealthy and toxic masculine men are a kind of men that can be encountered everywhere: at the grocery store, at the board meeting or in your bedroom.
Just like unhealthy toxic feminine women.
In the recent years, in the wake of the #metoo movement, toxic masculinity has been exposed and brought to surface (good thing) but also scrutinized to the extreme (bad thing) where masculinity has become synonymous with toxicity.
Where being a man has become synonymous with being toxic.
But the coin of gender issues is not a one-sided one.
It might feel like it is, and it should be because “men have been in power for thousands of years” but that approach does not lead to a productive society and a reestablished balance between genders.
What that leads to is blame, bullying and a perpetuation of the same vicious cycle.
“Women have been oppressed for thousands of years — now it’s your turn!” is essentially what the latest wave of feminism is saying.
Perhaps indeed that is what’s needed to heal collectively, but I don’t need men to suffer today so that I, individually, can be healed.
That is my internal job.
My healing does not depend on someone else’s suffering and bearing the consequences of their toxic masculine fathers and grandfathers.
I don’t need revenge to be my instrument for healing.
I don’t need to wait until men “wake up” so I can finally start living.
I don’t need anyone’s permission to fully embrace who I am, lick my wounds and move forward powerfully.
I don’t need to start movements and PR campaigns to expose toxic masculinity in every man on the street, so they become aware of their shortcomings.
That’s not my job.
My job is to focus on me.
On my self-worth and establishing boundaries. (How did I allow that dickhead to push me around like that? Why did I not stand up for myself and express my boundaries?)
But aren’t men supposed to do their own internal work?
Where are the conscious men?
Yes, they’re supposed to, but that’s not my business.
The more you tell a man he’s not doing his internal work, the more he will resist doing in.
You can’t help someone who doesn’t want to be helped.
So, how we, as women, can contribute to men doing their work is by working on ourselves.
Because when we focus on ourselves, our self-worth and setting boundaries we’re also raising the bar and raising the standard as to what is acceptable for us and what is not.
We will not be settling for men who’re not good enough because we’re afraid we’re going to be alone forever or that “there are no good men around.”
When we change our belief systems about men, women and relationships — everything changes with it.
The men we start attracting become better because our expectations of them are higher and because we’re looking for evidence of why men are good.
Because all change starts within.
Recently, a client in my Claimed Group Coaching Program brought up a situation where she encountered an unhealthy toxic masculine man at a meeting.
This man was trying to shut everyone down and be in control. He got defensive when other (female) members of the meeting wanted to slow down and talk about issues that interested them. My client was the one leading this “debate” and after the meeting got a call from the man which ended up in anything but a productive conversation.
She wondered why she was repulsed by this man, and how could she handle the situation better?
When I asked her what’s at the bottom of her interaction with him, she said, “I just didn’t feel safe with this guy….”
I DIDN’T FEEL SAFE WITH THIS GUY.
How we feel around people who provoke us, are toxic and narcissistic and who make us feel small — is our responsibility and our choice.
Toxic people feed off our inability to stand up for ourselves powerfully; they threaten our sense of safety, and they LOVE dragging us into their power games.
We choose to either enter that game or not.
We choose to either feed the ego and the vicious cycle of continuous bullying, hate, unhealthy habits or stand in our truth.
Felling safe in our bodies is our responsibility and our priority. If we feel safe and secure in our sense of self, we will not be threatened, pushed aside or shut down.
The prevalent way to currently deal with a situation where there is a power struggle for control and domination from men is to report, bully, shut down, fight, accuse, take to court, publicly humiliate and shame. Which is what should be done when indeed with inappropriate or predatory behavior.
However, a conscious woman who stands in her power (and feels safe in her body) will also see through a person’s inability to not be threatened.
You see, we always attract our equals in terms of our energy, secure or fragile sense of self. Every situation teacher us something. Every man we meet is a teacher.
A conscious woman will look at this situation with curiosity and empathy and think to herself “Wow, this man must have eaten a lot of sh&t in his life. I can only imagine what trauma, limiting beliefs or situations he had to deal with while growing up and going through life. There is a lot of baggage here to deal with. I don’t think I am able or want to play this game with him. Let me see how we can resolve with the situation with calmness, good communication and empathy.”
This is a woman who is a strong leader.
This is a woman who doesn’t buy into other people’s weaknesses and agendas and doesn’t let others influence or dictate how she feels about herself.
Everyone is doing the best they can with the resources available at the time.
And so, whenever you find yourself in a situation with a person who’s clearly doing a poor job at handling his emotions and the emotions of others, remember that statement.
They can’t do better in this particular moment. Bullying and demanding control is the best they can do at this moment because deep down inside perhaps there is a little boy crying for attention.
Crying to be seen.
Crying to be heard.
Perhaps this little boy never got the love he so much craved from his mother; never seen a role model in his father or any other male figures in his life.
Perhaps this boy grew into an angry teenager who suffered from severe acne and lacked confidence; therefore no girl would pay attention to him.
Rejection after rejection from women and the world made him tough, thick-skinned and thick-headed so the only way he learned to cope is through externalizing his anger and rejection by being mean and being a bully.
And so, now that he is a “successful” man who’s built his career on power games and force, he is still struggling and constantly craving for attention.
And perhaps next time when the whole group turns around and accuses, shouts and pushes him to his extreme, he might just decide to go get a gun “just in case” because he now feels like he needs to protect himself.
This is the same time of man who perpetuates violence in public demonstrations and rallies.
“Hurt people hurt people.”
To be able to effectively deal with such situations, we have to see the whole picture.
But the most important thing we need to do is to stand strong in our sense of safety and security.
So, here are the 4 things I recommend working on if you want to effectively deal with situations like this:
1. Develop safety in your body. In my work with women I use a modality called Feminine Embodiment to help them drop into their body and reestablish safety. So many of us walk around disembodied as a result of trauma, society’s obsession with external masculine success and our lack of understanding in how the body stores a lot of frozen tension. We do not have tools to safely release and restore balance in our bodies and our systems, so we are frantic, overwhelmed, and stressed. Social media and technology plus the never-ending cycle of to-do lists and errands creates a vicious cycle of being in our heads all the time. The way out of this is through developing a relationship with our felt senses and what we feel through breath, movement, and awareness. Seek working and engaging with feminine embodiment coaches, somatic therapists or any embodiment practices.
2. Work on your self-worth and establishing boundaries. This is deep work and, ideally, you would work on these two things using embodiment tools as well. Establishing and communicating boundaries in a non-violent way are crucial if you want to successfully resolve conflict situations and preserve your sovereignty and a healthy sense of self. Self-worth is really what’s at the bottom of all unhealthy interactions. The victim and the perpetrator really match each other in terms of their self-worth — one is simply being dominant in that dynamic.
3. Develop empathy towards men. Work on learning more about the masculine journey. Read books on men’s work and male psyche. Become curious about what men go through, what rites of passages are present in their lives and why we are currently dealing with the crisis of masculinity. I’ve interviewed more than 40 men on my Claimed Podcast about these subjects, so I would start there (start with episode 129.)
4. Reframe your beliefs about men. Your beliefs about men are what is driving your pattern of attracting the men you’re seeing in your life. Men are our mirrors. So, if you want to change what you see “in the mirror” you have to start digging into your belief system about men. You have to look at the root cause of your dynamics with men and reframe that into much more powerful beliefs that will serve you. I describe my 4-step process of working on reframing these beliefs about men here.