Bottom Line Up Front: The strong man talks about his troubles for three reasons: First, from a practical point of view, it’s how he finds a solution. Second, by telling someone else, you keep from falling into a trap and being isolated. Third, reaching out to build strong networks with other good men leads to many By-product Blessings, only one of which is money, but money is the easiest to measure.
Wait! Don’t be a big mouthed, windbag complainer.
We are not talking about information we’re bound to protect. Business, legal, government, fiscal, personal, trusted. We must keep some secrets. We’re also not talking about complaining. Complaining is draining, the old saying goes. We all know the difference. Talking about your troubles to find a solution, break out of a trap, build a network? Now that’s what strong men do.
“How can I talk about my troubles if I’m not supposed to complain?”
“It pays to talk about your troubles” always confused me. I thought a man was never supposed to complain. When you complain, nobody wants to help you. Shouldn’t we avoid burdening others with our troubles? Shouldn’t we be self-reliant? I got more confused, because this advice clashes directly with a foundation of The Masculine Triad of Health, Wealth and Network. Men must not criticize, condemn or complain. This clash—it pays to talk about your troubles clashing with never criticizing, condemning or complaining– is one reason it’s difficult to be an authentic man in troubled times. The answer: It’s all about balance. Balance talk against silence. Balance is crucial in confusing situations. Confusing situations demand prudence. Refine your judgment to make the right choice of many.
Talking –carefully– helps us become prudent.
You’re Only as Sick as Your Secret
What’s the downside to silence? There are three traps men fall into: Lust, money and anger. Ask yourself for each, “Would it be better if I talk about this?”
First, lust. Many men struggle with pornography. The internet destigmatized it and we can look at whatever we want, whenever we want. Gentlemen, pornography takes something healthy, the attraction between the sexes, and distorts it. If we don’t curb that tendency we will see more and more of what we should not see at all. Marketing and the ability to target demographics means men are trapped in pornography addictions now more than ever.
How do you win that fight if you think you’re alone? If I can get you ashamed, I can trap you. Like blackmail. If you’re ashamed, I have a weapon to beat you with. But if you’re ashamed you’re already beating yourself.
Second, money. Most men won’t talk about money. We think we should master it. We think we should know all about it. We carry with us lessons we learned as children. Usually from what we saw. Often these are emotional lessons and not good ones.
Many men have a horror of debt, financial mismanagement, and being seen as incompetent with money. We know how a man handles money is an indicator of his character. Like pornography. We know, somehow, that with money there is a transaction taking place that has moral consequences.
Who of us has not lost his temper with those he loves?
Recently I recorded a horrible video for Authentic Masculinity about the Prime Directive.
For men, the Prime Directive is that we must never lose our temper. When men get angry, violence can follow. Usually not so with women. I have made a lot of progress on keeping my temper. Yet, that very next morning, the morning after I lectured others about the dangers of being angry… around 3… I was up with a two year old. I was tired and my guard was down. I lost my temper, yelled at my son, and frightened him. I was tired and frustrated, and I violated the Prime Directive.
I tell you this because we can all fall prey to this problem. We all have weaknesses and we should not keep them to ourselves. If we fall into the trap of thinking we must face our troubles alone, we are doomed.
So how do I decide when to talk about my troubles?
Ask yourself these questions:
Why am I keeping this to myself?
Am I keeping secrets from my wife? Why?
Am I keeping secrets from my accountability partner? Why?
Do I have an accountability partner?
What would happen if those I love and who love me discovered my secret?
Call to Action: If you are keeping secrets for the wrong reason, here’s what I recommend. First, if you are keeping a secret—taxes, money, friendships, alcohol—ask yourself why. Second, write the secrets down. This will help you confront them and it takes some of the emotion out of them. Third, once you have thought things over, select a close friend you trust and ask him to give you his counsel on the wisdom of keeping secrets. Don’t confide them to him immediately, just ask his advice. Start building a friendship. When ready, unburden yourself. You’ll be glad you did. You’ll be stronger and so will he..