In each of us, there is still a child, a 12-year-old boy that shapes a lot of the way we think, feel and act as an adult. When that child is triggered, it’s how we respond that determines and shapes us into the type of man we are today.
All of us went through some type of childhood to get to manhood. All of us have an inner child. It’s how well we now deal with that inner child, or 12-year-old boy, that makes us who we are today.
How do you now deal with your stuff as a man? Do you make calm, confident decisions? Or do you let anger rule you and rage run riot through you? Do you use substances to soothe your troubled soul? Do you turn to sex, violence, achievements, status, money, even self-help addiction itself, to get by, to feel better, to survive? Or maybe you just withdraw and keep to yourself.
How do you respond when you don’t get what you want, when you want it? When you get passed by, overlooked or better still, rejected, what happens within you? How do you deal with that stuff?
Is your masculinity threatened? Do you feel less than? Are you enough, regardless of what goes on around you?
Questions, questions, questions. All relevant and all telling. Your answers will tell you much about how you show up as a man, and how well you have integrated the 12-year-old boy within you.
There are many ways in which a boy responds differently to a man. But when you are a man, and you’re still responding like a boy, that’s when you run into trouble.
When things don’t go the way a boy wants, he tends to get a little moody, irritable or shut down. Or he may act out, rebel, engage in risky behavior. These are things a boy does when he doesn’t feel good about himself or what’s happening around him.
For example, if I tell my son he won’t be going to soccer training tonight because he has been showing me disrespect during the week, he tantrums and won’t talk. Why? Because he is upset that things haven’t gone his way.
Regardless of whether or not his actions have contributed to the result, all he can see and feel is, he’s not getting something he wants. The result is a tantrum until he realizes that a tantrum still doesn’t get him what he wants.
If I act this way as a man when I don’t get something I want, it becomes man-child behavior. If I don’t get something I want, like sex for example, and then my behavior is to sulk or skulk around the house feeling sorry for myself, I better find a better way to deal with those emotions, because man-child behavior is not confident, sexy or attractive.
If I ask my 12-year-old to tidy his room and he says yes, and then 2 days later he still hasn’t done it, he is acting like a 12-year-old. If a man does this, he is acting like a man-child. A calm, confident man knows how to keep his word and makes it a priority to practice it.
If a man he says he is going to take the trash out, pick up some groceries, or manage some bills, he better bloody well do it. To not do so, is to not be true to your word. If that same man flip flops around and can’t make a decision, he is still not true to his word.
Good intentions amount to zero, if your word is not kept.
Knowing how to make clear choices comes down to knowing what you want. When I ask my 12-year-old what he wants to do today, and he says ‘I don’t know’ or ‘I can’t think of anything’, he is acting like a 12-year-old. When my 52-year-old self does this, it’s downright frustrating, both to himself and the people around him.
The only way to make a clear choice about anything, is to first know what you want.
So make a list if you have to. I did this before I met my wife. I made a list of qualities I was looking for in a woman. She pretty much ticked every box by the way. It wasn’t that I had a checklist, but I visualised her long before i met her. Then when I eventually did meet her, it was like ‘wow, there you are, I’ve been looking for you’.
When you aim for nothing, you’ll probably hit it. Knowing what you want in a partner, a career, a business, or even for dinner, is all about taking clear, decisive action to move in that direction.
12-year-old boys don’t do this.
When our 12-year-old inner child gets triggered, and we either don’t recognise the trigger, or don’t do anything about it, the man-child appears, and he is not fun.
Triggers are all about the inner child. So what do we do with this boy inside of us when he gets triggered. The answer is to work with him before he gets triggered.
Remember, this 12-year-old boy is you. So speak to him. Who is he, what does he want? Does he need to be loved, cared for or protected. Does he feel unsafe or threatened?
Sit down and ask the boy within you, what he needs. What did he not get as a real 12-year-old? What can you give him now to help him feel calm, safe and loved.
Recognising and nurturing your own inner child is key to becoming a mature, confident man. The boy with you doesn’t need to be silenced or punished, but he does need to know he is loved, safe, and ok. Tony Robbins says “heal the boy and the man will appear”.
If you’ve got a scared boy inside of you, and your man-child is running the show, it’s time to heal him, so the man can appear.
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