Being a man can come with a lot of expectations. At some point, all men struggle under the burden of the macho masculine stereotype of the tough, cocky-confident, hypercompetitive guy. We are sold on striving to be the tall, dark, and handsome Romeo who can sweep any woman off their feet.
But that image is simply one society and the media has conditioned us to believe. In actuality, being a “real” man should mean being your true self. It means being comfortable in your skin.
All too often men are disregarded when it comes to body image problems. Everyone has them, regardless of gender. Both men and women struggle with issues like finding the right style of clothing that shows off their personality while also being the best choice for their body shape. When it comes to mental health, men often find themselves struggling to overcome the stigma of looking “weak” because they seek psychological counseling.
You may never get to a point where you’re 100% happy with who you see in the mirror, but you can still accept who you are and work on self-improvement. Making peace with your past, taking control of your present, and building hope for the future are vital parts of enabling change for the better.
Remember to focus on certainty in yourself, rather than trying to control the world around you. If you practice self-mastery, and live your life on your own terms, you will have a better chance of influencing your environment and circumstances.
Here are a few ways you can show off the man you actually are, rather than conform to the way others may expect you to be:
Clothes Proclaim Your Style, Not Your Manhood
Clothing can be an outward expression of your personality. They don’t have to conform to a narrow path of manhood. Spending time on your wardrobe doesn’t make you any less of a man. You don’t have to wear virtually the same thing every day just because your dad did.
Besides, having a personal style can also go a long way to showing that you’re a fully functioning adult human being. Being able to dress well and appropriately for different occasions can reflect on your character in the eyes of others. If you don’t know where to start, a good place to begin is a men’s lookbook for some thought-starters on your path to some new threads.
Grooming the “Savage Beast”
Ah, the beard! The facial follicular birthright of all men! The beard is certainly in style these days, but don’t feel pressured to have one. If you DO decide to grow one, you should consider keeping that home-grown face warmer well-groomed in some way. That may mean avoiding the pitfalls of the infamous out-of-control neckbeard!
But grooming goes beyond a sharp haircut and a neat beard. It’s also about taking care of your hair and your skin. YES, men have skin, and we’re allowed to moisturize. Too many men don’t take care of their skin because we’ve been trained to believe skincare is exclusively for women.
Men don’t have to suffer in silence under the onslaught of acne, dry and flaky skin, or dandruff. Beyond the physical benefits, the routine of skin care has psychological benefits, and basically forces you to focus on yourself and have some much needed “you time.”
The Fast and the Foodious
What to shed pounds? Want to sleep better, worry less, and even improve your temper? Then look at your diet. You may think this is obvious, but how often do we overlook what we eat in favor of focusing on our workouts? If you are consuming the wrong fuel, it will severely hinder your quest to get fit.
In addition to avoiding sugar, loading up on veggies, and the like, men are having weight loss success using intermittent fasting. Let’s face it: counting calories sucks. Intermittent fasting provides an alternative, by taking advantage of the “post-absorptive” state. Meaning, once your body gets beyond the 12 hour mark, you start burning fat. Fasting may sound intimidating, but check out this technique and see if it’s right for you.
Remember, a good diet doesn’t always need to result in a six pack. The goal is to be healthy. Look at Chris Pratt. He gets jacked for his films, but has openly admitted he feels more comfortable being a bit on the “flabbier” side.
Workout Without Letting Your Jerk Out
You don’t have to be a gym monster to get fit. Working out, especially lifting weights, doesn’t have to be an “alpha male” competition. Exercise shouldn’t be about looking tough; it should be about improving your body in healthy and pain-minimising way.
The mental benefits of working out should not be minimized, however. Getting fit gives you that amazing rush of endorphins, and allows you to exorcise while you exercise. In other words, you can work out your inner demons as you concentrate on becoming healthier. There’s a reason you feel more clear-headed during and after workouts: we evolved to move as part of our survival, so it makes sense that movement helps us think better.
Strive for the “Best” You, But Don’t Pressure Yourself
Being the “best” you means something different to each of us. Some see it as a worthwhile and welcome challenge, while others see it as a daunting task. It is important to not psyche yourself out on your journey to the man you want to be.
It’s okay to test yourself, as long as you don’t burn yourself out, or set goals too high too soon and set yourself up for disappointment. Remember: don’t strive to be “better” based on anyone else’s criteria. Don’t fall into the joy-stealing trap of comparison.
Sure, take the advice of others and listen well to trusted friends. But in the end, it’s up to you to decide your path. Improve yourself for those that truly care about you. And one of those people that love you needs to be YOU.
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