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A mouse or a man: how can I stop being a wimp?

answered 01:35 PM EST, Tue April 30, 2013
anonymous anonymous
I am not a man I am a wimp. When you lay it bare on the table that’s basically the number one problem in my life. Why am I so scared of confrontations? Is there some way I can learn to have more courage so that when someone looks me in the eye when I walk down the street I don’t have to always look away first and then feel ashamed after. I am 29 years old and I have never been in a fight and I have let people push me around for my whole life and I am sick of it. I tell myself that I won’t let anyone treat me poorly ever again but then I just lose my resolve when it counts. I have tried martial arts courses but I just suck at them and it is hard to imagine getting so good that I could actually kick someone’s ass. I want to stand up for myself and be a man.

Art Matthews Says...

Your first sentence just about says it all: it is the reality that you have lived in, created by you; and since you believe it so deeply, you act in ways that reinforce it. That provides further evidence that it's true, and that creates the vortex of self-loathing that has you trapped and unable to change.

You are right. This is a big problem, because how you see yourself and how you treat yourself has the ability to impact every aspect of your life. Making a significant change in this one area would likely have far reaching positive reverberations, but making that change means believing you could be someone who else, someone who is not a wimp. It means believing you have the ability to grow from where you find yourself now. When you say to yourself, "I am a wimp" you are not allowing for any other outcomes. Look up wimp in the dictionary, "There I am!"

No, I choose not to believe that you are not a wimp. You have an inner strength that has allowed you to survive all your past abuse. You have made choices not to engage and confront for what seemed like in the moment were very logical and protective reasons. Your self-hatred and deep longing for change are a testament to the power that exists in you, but which needs to be channeled a different direction.

Let me be clear, my objective for you would not be for you to learn to use force to prevent others from taking advantage of you. I don't believe that men who engage in physical fighting are any more "men" than a 5 year old is. As Isaac Asimov is credited with saying, "Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent." I believe men who resort to violence are desperately attempting to cover up their own insecurity, shame and self-hatred by externalizing a target they perceive to represent the same things they hate in themselves.

Why people have come to fear confrontations usually relates to their past experience in early years with confrontations, authority figures or with highly emotionally charged and even violent conflicts. Through our childhood years, we come to understand who we are based on "other-esteem", who we are told we are is how we initially come to see ourselves. So a child who has been blamed, shamed, neglected, manipulated or abused often has poor sense of self and will likely deal with conflict in less effective ways and judge themselves for their lack of positive outcomes. The drive to avoid confrontation is, at its core, self-protective. If one can avoid confrontation, one would then avoid potential violence and therefore would be less likely to become physically hurt or killed. But the problem with that logic is, we cannot avoid all confrontation.

To me the first step for you is to come to a working agreement with yourself, forgiving yourself for not being able to protect yourself in the way you wished you had and for making the choices you have that have lead you to where you are. This will allow you to believe that you deserve to have an advocate and that advocate is YOU. Many people get frustrated hearing well-meaning people say, "You have to learn to love yourself." The statement feels like a platitude, even when we can accept the truth in it. But most people never explain how we begin to do that. I began in my own journey to learn to be lov-ING to myself. I began by treating myself in loving ways that I saw people treat others : stop beating myself up, see the talents and skills I do have, sooth myself, nurture myself and -- yes -- even discipline (not punish) myself.

Regardless of your age, I believe you can begin a new relationship with yourself to become a man you would value and respect; however, you are so entrenched in your beliefs and feelings about who you are that I believe you would be wise to seek professional guidance. Accept that this will take time. Invest in finding a good therapist that you feel understands you and will be able to motivate you. And make the time and financial commitment to make it happen. You will be investing in yourself and in your happiness. Many people look at the cost of therapy as being a barrier to getting help and never get into therapy... and that would be them making a choice not to change.

You must want this change more than you fear or dislike the process of changing. Every time you think about giving up, imagine how bad it feels when you give in and others take advantage. Then take control of that one thing in your power and commit to following through with counseling. Expect you will want to give up, because that has become a habit. But don't accept that you have to quit permanently. As soon as you have licked a wound or two, get back in there and do it! Be persistent and determined.

I believe you can. The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step. Now, take it!

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Page last updated Apr 30, 2013

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