I put out a tweet the other day that was met with a very mixed response:
Not surprising tbh, even though this is hardly the first time I’ve talked about “the issues of self-improvement”
Many guys get “triggered” by attacks on this topic, as it’s very dear to them. You might even say for most guys in “the manosphere” it’s the basis of their development as a man.
Which is why I want to say for the record: I am not “anti” self-improvement.
I was deep into the self-improvement space for at least a decade — indeed, I still participate in it. It has saved and yes, improved, countless mens’ lives… including mine.
So why does it appear as if I’m a bit harsh?
Because most self-improvement — especially for a guy who had previously lived a passive, complacent life— is derivative of a lack self-love.
I will explain why in a moment. But first — I only say “most,” because I admit it is not a universal statement. When some contest “well isn’t the act of self-improvement an expression of self-love?. Why would a guy try to improve himself if he didn’t care?” — they are not necessarily wrong.Because it all really depends on the intent and beliefs of the guy.
Think of the gym, for instance.
You can set an alarm every day early and force yourself to the gym… maybe get a trainer or group to hold you accountable. But you know you are a fat / skinny-fat fuck and that you are not going to get what you want unless you hit the weights.
Fear of being unlovable is the primary motivator here, with perhaps some fantasizing about being desirable (aka lovable) when you’re jacked and ripped.
Now, it is true some guys are able to motivate themselves with this discipline, but as this self-improvement is based on an externalization (“you need to do this to be good”) — it is overall NOT an act based on self-love, but an avoidance of self-hate.It is CONDITIONAL love.
Contrast this with the guy who goes to the gym regularly and pretty much effortlessly.
Sure, it’s possible that he has just built a routine, and it’s become his “church” (so to speak).
And yet most people with healthy, regular gym routines want to go. Taking care of their body isn’t something that needs discipline, it’s something that is a natural outpouring of loving themselves.
He lives healthily because he wants to treat his body as temple; the validation from looking good is simply a beneficially side effect.
So in this sense, self-improvement CAN be an act of self-love. The motivation simply needs to be internal not external.
Unfortunately though, in the manosphere the norm is viewing self-improvement as an act of necessity rather than an act of devotion.
There has not been a day passed on Twitter where I haven’t seen statements like:
“You have to do X every day to be *******”“If you don’t do Y, then you’re a ******”
And one of my favorites:
“You must declare unceaseless war against yourself”
NOT A LOT OF SELF-LOVE GETTING SUB-COMMUNICATED
Moreover, as a clinician I don’t need to speculate — I’ve first hand how the “self-improvement ethos” at a certain point can do more harm than good.
Guys beat themselves up, and frankly end up improving less because they’re burned out.
So sorry if you’re not one of these and got caught in the crossfire… but this is a real epidemic in masculine communities I’m trying to address. I am speaking to these guys who need a break.
Because their energy is unbalanced, and frankly at odds with itself.
Make no mistake:
Self-improvement IS part of the masculine ethos, because masculine energy is about being on the edge. It is about growth, challenge, and at the bottom of it all… risking death.
But a man cannot “improve” to get away from himself.
It cannot be oppositional; the conscious mind cannot attack the unconscious and expect no repercussions. The unconscious always strikes back when in pain; indeed, that is what self-sabotage is.
So what’s the solution?
The simple answer is unconditional love of that wounded part. Because once you focus on *its* needs it will be begin to release.
The problem of course is this is extremely difficult for guys to see in their own psyche; certainly in its entirety. A man may glance around the issue, but evade the heart of it.
Which is why if you really want to address this inner trauma, I encourage you to work with me.
I wear a lot of hats. I can show you how to get girls, I can improve your relationship…
But at the core of success in all of these is your relationship with yourself.
Apply here: www.patstedman.com/application
PS WATCH and LIKE the latest Dating & Relationship Q&A: Guilt, Making Conversation and Saying ‘I Love You’ – Dating and Relationships #18