In any given day, a large portion of our conscious thoughts and actions are influenced by our subconscious mind. In many ways, our subconscious mind is a processing plant that absorbs our thoughts and decisions and then instructs the direction for the conscious mind to act. When it comes to masculinity, this man behind the curtain, so to speak, is influencing your daily interactions, actions and reactions.
The early subconscious mind
Masculinity starts long before you are officially old enough to shave your moustache or admire the hair on your chest. When it comes to embracing masculinity, many of the imprints of what it is to ‘be a man’ are created in your childhood. A young boy who stubs his toe and begins to cry might be told by his father to “man up”. Or a boy who is emotionally sensitive might be teased by his peer group. These occurrences cause the subconscious mind to perceive and learn that somehow it is not okay for a male to show emotional vulnerability.
The repeated message is that men are to be tough, strong, aggressive and able to handle everything without shedding a tear or getting emotional. Often, this leads to a disconnect from emotion. I see this quite frequently with male clients in the clinic. As a child, if they showed certain emotions they would be made to feel that it was unacceptable for a man and thus, as a coping strategy, they compartmentalized the emotion so that they didn’t have to deal with it at the time. Despite what we learned from childhood, as adults, we can retrain our brain and embrace our masculinity in a healthier manner. It all begins with awareness.
So how can you become a conscious male?
To be a conscious male, you must become aware of all the subconscious programs that may be influencing your life. There are, in fact, two sides to the expression of masculine energy: the conscious and mindful side, and the shadow side. The conscious masculine allows himself to be vulnerable, to operate with compassion, integrity, and is emotionally connected. This expression of masculine energy approaches life with awareness and humility.
The shadow side of masculine energy is self-centered, aggressive, stubborn, competitive, domineering, controlling and non-communicative. Often, the shadow side believes that these traits are beneficial, but they seldom lead to results or positive outcomes. This expression of masculine energy approaches life with brute force and arrogance.
How can you create transformational change?
The goal of conscious masculinity is to align yourself with the positive traits of masculine energy and to develop more awareness and self-control. Remember that the programming that supports the behaviour is subconscious so change in and of itself takes time. The simple act of being mindful and reflective is a wonderful place to begin being more conscious of the inner workings of your mind. It is only through awareness that you can begin to recognize any shadow sides of your masculine energy and make the decision to change your response to a more conscious expression of your masculinity. This will allow you to show up in your life in a whole new way.
An exercise for conscious masculinity
Here is a simple self-hypnosis exercise that you can do daily to assist you becoming more aware of your subconscious mind and to empower you to align with higher expressions of masculine energy.
- Find a quiet place where you can relax for 10 minutes. You may choose to play some quiet, relaxing music if you wish.
- Sit in a comfortable position. Rearrange your arms and legs in a manner that is comfortable for you.
- Close your eyes and begin to focus on your breathing. Notice the coolness as you breath in and the warmth as you breath out.
- Observe your thoughts. Notice the feelings in your body. Simply allow yourself to notice what happening in the present moment within you.
- In this state, imagine that you could watch a movie of yourself from the outside. Begin to reflect upon your current expression of masculine energy. What do you notice? What qualities do you perceive? How do you look, feel and sound? Are there any undesirable expressions of masculine energy that you notice? Do you allow yourself to be vulnerable? To feel emotions?
- Recognize the aspects of the shadow side of masculine energy that show up in your life. Embrace these parts of your shadow. Imagine that you could send these parts love. It is only through acceptance of these parts that change can occur.
- Next, imagine an image of yourself expressing your masculine energy in a positive way. Imagine what it would be like to change any undesirable masculine quality into a more positive quality. Notice what that would be like. Imagine how your life would be different. Imagine what you would look like, sound like and feel like. Make it as real as you can.
- Imagine that you could step into this positive image of yourself and that it could merge with your body. Feel it and make it real in your mind. Imagine what it’s like to be this positive image of yourself.
- Take a moment and absorb what you have experienced and then open your eyes
This simple exercise, if practiced regularly, can retrain the subconscious mind to express your masculine energy in more positive ways. Through reinforcement, eventually the subconscious mind will relearn and begin to automatically respond with the new image. As you continue to embrace all parts of yourself and begin to observe them with compassion, you will find yourself changing in positive and powerful ways.
Article by Donald Currie on behalf of Helix Healthcare Group
Donald Currie is a hypnotherapist at Helix Healthcare Group and representative of the Conscious Masculinity Program at Helix Healthcare Group. For more information about our men’s therapeutic process groups, visit www.helixhealthcaregroup.com/classes