Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Art of Manliness - Stop Being a Mama's Body

"Mama's Boy" is one of the many insults used on boys and men to accuse them of not being manly enough - whatever that may mean. But it's also true that some men are too close to their mothers, which generally means that they have not individuated sufficiently.

Michael Gurien's book on the subject (The Invisible Presence: How a Man’s Relationship with His Mother Affects All His Relationships with Women) goes into great detail on this topic (I reviewed it at Wildmind Buddhist Meditation).

This guest post by Wayne M. Levine, M.A. at The Art of Manliness offers a good introduction to the topic.

Editor’s note: This is a guest post by Wayne M. Levine, M.A.

If you want a very quick take on how important this article may be to your future happiness and success as a man, honestly assess your reaction to its title.

What did you feel? Were you aghast? Did it offend you? Did it piss you off? Are you utterly confused? If you’re this guy, you DESPERATELY need the wisdom found below.

Were you intrigued by the title? Did it resonate with you for some unknown reason? Did it make you smile? If you’re this guy, you also DESPERATELY need this wisdom. The difference is, it may be much easier for you to take action.

And if it turns out that you have already taken this courageous action, terrific. You’re now in a mature relationship with your mother. Good for you, and for those around you.

If you other good (or not so good) little boys want to feel what it’s like to be a real man, a real man in your relationship with your mother—and ultimately, a real man in your relationship with a significant other—then pay close attention. If you follow the advice you’re about to receive, you will never be the same. And that’ll be a good thing!

Damn That Little Boy

We’re having this conversation because something isn’t working in your life. And one place you can see it manifest is in your relationship with your mother.

You may be in your 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s, even 60s. But when you’re visiting your mom, or having a phone conversation with her, you feel like that little boy having to obey her rules, feeling compelled to argue with her, angry as hell, or terribly sad, with how she makes you feel with her words, her “looks,” or the attitude you know so well.

You’re nodding your head. Your stomach is tightening. Your breathing has become a bit shallow. Do you know why? Well, we’re talking about you and your pain. You have felt it for years. Your girlfriends, wife, buddies, and kids have seen what happens to you when you’re in the presence of your “mommy.” What the hell is going on?

Here is where the wisdom begins. Take a deep breath. You can change what’s going on between your ears, and that will change your relationship with your mother, and that will change everything for you as a man.

Weak vs. Powerful

When you’re with your mother, or just having thoughts or a discussion about her, and you find yourself angry, resentful, sad, withdrawn, irritable, silent, withholding, stubborn, argumentative, or just numb, you are what many of us guys in the men’s biz would call “not in your power.” You know when you’re not in your power. You can feel it. You just might not have ever labeled it. You’re not in your power when you feel weak, stuck, paralyzed, victimized, and in the problem. And you feel weak when these negative feelings take hold.

How did this happen? Well, you had help. When you were young, you learned how a man behaves with, responds to, and deals with women. Your greatest teacher, for better or worse, was probably dad.

Whatever your circumstances, a young boy learns from his parents (or other adults) how to thrive or survive in relationships. Depending on the level of dysfunction in your family of origin, you may have had to develop some very interesting coping skills.

For example, if dad was a coward, and mom grew to be (in your eyes) an angry, controlling “bitch”, you know very well how to “please” mommy so as to avoid her wrath. Or, dad may have left (divorced, died, abandoned, abused, etc.) the family when you were young, and mom bestowed upon you her resentment toward men.

What happens for these unfortunate boys is that they grow up to be self-hating men. These men unconsciously do not trust other men or themselves. For these guys, being who they are—men—is shameful. As a result, they relinquish all power to the women in their lives, without even being asked. This offering up of men’s power is one of the main contributors to women feeling unsafe, insecure, and, ultimately, resentful and angry. (A fabulous topic for a future post.)

To relinquish power is to be other than the man you want to be in a given situation. You don’t speak up. You avoid conflict in the face of intolerable circumstances. You lie to appease. You lie to yourself, attempting to believe that you are not disappointed or even disgusted with your own behavior.

Back to mom.

Read more.

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