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  • feedwordpress 19:00:24 on 2017/06/30 Permalink
    Tags: aggression, aggressive, androgynous, assertive, , , Community, feminine, , , , , , roles   

    A Man’s Dilemma: Assertiveness vs. Aggression 

    “How do I assert myself as a man without coming across as too forceful?” – Carl, Washington DC

    In evolutionary terms, men had to be decisive and fearless because they were hunters. Aggression was key to masculinity. Men were expected to protect themselves from others who attempted to put them down or push them around. However, in our western urbanized lives, masculinity is being redefined.

    Breaking down Carl’s question, I think what he is asking is: how can I be assertive without being aggressive?

    Asserting yourself without aggression is particularly key in a relationship. Frequently men worry about how to listen to the smart, accomplished women in their life without feeling like they’re being walked over or they’re not holding their ground.

    I would like to tell you, Carl, that the ground is moving constantly when it comes to modern masculinity. The good news is that you have opportunities to be a man in ways that are more expansive than your father and grandfather. You have the opportunity for self expression, emotional openness and self reflection that would have been considered “weak” and “feminine” in the past.

    Of course, weakness has long been seen as the repudiation of the masculine. Manhood has traditionally been predicated on a sense of autonomy, on self reliance and not depending on others. But to negotiate with another person, without defaulting to an aggressive stance, you have to be willing to NOT know the answer.

    So instead of using aggression to get what he wants, how does Carl assert himself? How can Carl express confidence that isn’t arrogance? Firstly, let’s define our terms.

    What is Assertiveness?

    Assertiveness is confidence. It is knowing what you want. But it is also a dialogue that allows for input from the other person. Assertiveness is power.

    What is Aggression?

    Aggression is power in order to protect myself. It creates an unyielding barrier between myself and the other person. It is a battle, which must be won.

    So… What Now?

    The answer is not either/or. I encourage Carl to allow himself to be influenced while maintaining groundedness, connected to others without losing himself. In psychological speak, we call this a healthy sense of differentiation.

    Also, rid yourself of the burden that you have to know everything to be a leader. Asserting yourself with confidence will come from being open to others.

    Carl, engage in a conversation. A conversation that allows for negotiation and doesn’t need to end with winning. Battle is about dominance. Make a decision where two people are heard and recognized. You’d be surprised how much power dialogue allows.

    How have you found ways to assert yourself as a man and allow for other’s input? I would love to hear your thoughts. 

    The post A Man’s Dilemma: Assertiveness vs. Aggression appeared first on Esther Perel.

     
  • feedwordpress 10:00:32 on 2017/06/28 Permalink
    Tags: , Community, , family, , , , , , Relationship dynamics,   

    What Does it Mean to be a Man? 

    “I had to quit my job because of a health issue, and now I’m home taking care of our kids. My wife has become the breadwinner. I know I should be happy that we could make it all work, but I feel like a loser.” – Zach, San Francisco, California

    Zach’s dilemma is the dichotomy of the modern male; emotionally evolved and willing able to care give, but pulled toward gender norms ingrained in us all.

    The construction of gender identity for men is more fragile than for women. In many cultures, one is born a woman — and one becomes a man. Chip Brown explores wide-ranging rites of passage into manhood from around the world in this National Geographic article.

    Often, masculinity is defined as the disavowal of the feminine inside of us. This is complicated for both women and men as we redefine modern gender roles.

    Zach, I have worked with many men in your position — lead dads shunned by moms on the playground. Men who feel inadequate because they’re not financially providing for their family (even though they are raising children). For some, pent up frustration even causes angry lash-outs at their children.

    While you cannot control what happened to your health, you can control the outcome. To paraphrase Viktor Frankel’s Man’s Search for Meaning, you cannot always control the conditions you find yourself in, but you have the freedom to choose your reaction to them.

    You need to feel worthy, useful and socially connected. Seek out other men who are parenting. Look into the possibility of part-time work. Speak to your partner about how you’re feeling, so you can help one another find a balance. When you’re in the eye of the storm, it seems impossible to find a way out. But know that you are not the first to encounter the shifting sands of gender. As you wrestle with this new world, know that you are not alone.

    How do gender roles play out in your household? Let me know in the comments below.

    The post What Does it Mean to be a Man? appeared first on Esther Perel.

     
  • feedwordpress 18:23:44 on 2017/05/23 Permalink
    Tags: Audible, , , Community, iTunes, , , Where Should We Begin   

    My New Podcast: Where Should We Begin? 

    It’s been an exciting week. I am very proud to announce the launch of my original audio series, Where Should We Begin?.  A co-production with Audible Originals, the series is perhaps my most creative project to date.

    Too often couples live like isolated islands.

    We think what we’re experiencing in our own relationship is unique to us, and we don’t know that our neighbors and friends are experiencing the same longings, laments, deprivations, and disillusionments in their own lives.

    There is no school for relationships — no place for us to learn the tools for rebuilding and repair, to learn to straddle the many contradictions that roil in all of us. Where Should We Begin? is a way for me to create meaningful, deep, and open conversations.

    As you listen to these intimate, unscripted sessions between real-life couples, I think you will find the language you’ve been looking for to have conversations with the people in your own life.

    Listen to the entire series (with new episodes every Friday) for free through mid-July at audible.com/esther.

    On a personal note, I am incredibly grateful for the overwhelming support of our community. It takes a village. There are so many people behind the scenes helping to make this happen. We wanted to create this show to give people a language to understand themselves and their relationships, and it’s humbling to see people responding positively.

    The series is currently #4 on iTunes. You can read more about the behind the scenes of the series in this interview with Vogue. Or a clinical perspective on how listening to other couples’ sessions can help your own relationship on Psychology Today.

    For additional listening, enjoy my wide-ranging conversation with the one and only Tim Ferriss about sex, love, and commitment on The Tim Ferriss Show. And lastly, check out This American Life episode #617 where host Ira Glass listens to two people trying to break through what’s going wrong in their marriage.

    With gratitude,
    ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Esther

    LISTEN NOW

    The post My New Podcast: Where Should We Begin? appeared first on Esther Perel.

     
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