Healing the Shame of Thinking You’re ‘Not Man Enough’

“Be a man.” 

“Man up.” 

“Don’t be a wussy!” 

These are just a few of the shaming slogans that have been handed down from father to son for generations. And, most of you probably got some of the same messages. 

These slogans really suck, and they keep you stuck in the trance of low self-worth.

You wake up alone in bed again, you don’t have a life partner or a lover, and then the judgment comes in:  If I were a confident, strong man, I’d have an amazing relationship and wouldn’t be alone.

Your woman walks in the room; she doesn’t greet you the way you would want her to, so you get insecure and awkward. This triggers a judgment “I’m being a needy wimp.” Then you react from your hurt little boy, which makes you even less attractive to her.

Underneath all of these stories and programs is the heavy weight of shame.

Shame is one of the most debilitating emotions we can carry as men because it brings with it a deep sense of humiliation and embarrassment. This can throw us completely off our game, off track, and into total shutdown. And for many, it can result in serious destructive behaviors.  

AND … here’s a concept flip for you:

Shame can also serve as a really powerful aid in our life. 

It is a natural and healthy part of our emotional guidance system. It lets us know when we are out of integrity, when we need to grieve, when we need more self-awareness, or need to make amends. 

Shame is the emotion that steps in to say, “Hey brother, you weren’t acting from love here. Some course correction is needed to get back into alignment with who you really are and what you want to create in your life.”

But unfortunately, men are trained to override shame. And rather than facing it, it turns toxic and causes us to suffer and act out in all kinds of shitty ways.  

You doom scroll, you drink, you smoke, you overwork, or fall into any other number of addictive patterns to distract, avoid or ignore the shame.

Take a moment now and tune into the shame you’re carrying – around what kind of man you think you’re supposed to be, how masculine you should be, how successful you should be, or how many sexual partners you think you should have.

Can you recognize how you’re carrying shame when you measure yourself up to some ideal of what you think a man ‘should be’? 

Can you see how this shame weakens your confidence and sense of self-worth in different aspects of your life?

Shame is a debilitating burden to carry…AND it can be a doorway if you approach it consciously with vigilance and stay open to accessing your heart. 

Say to yourself:

“NO MORE.”

No more letting your mind be lazy and devolve into repetitive shaming self-judgments.

I really want to encourage you to try this simple (and difficult), powerful context for working with shame.

First, be willing and able to recognize shame is active.

When you feel like you’re not living up to the expectations of others. 

When you feel unappreciated and unacknowledged.

When you blame yourself and are judging yourself harshly.

When you feel you are being rejected and abandoned.

When you feel like hiding….All signs of shame.

Then, replace shame with self-forgiveness!

Instead of “aww shit, here’s that feeling again” and collapsing into the downward spiral, rise up to the challenge to practice in-the-moment-forgiveness.

Forgiveness is an “inside job.” 

What’s so cool is that we can do this without anyone knowing that it is happening.

Self-forgiveness practice might not always have an immediate massive effect, it can take time to sink in, but it can provide some instant subtle release of shame to soften into greater self-love. 

Here’s a practice to shift out of shame into a place of self-love.  Bring a high level of awareness and intention when engaging this practice.

  1. Get clear on the judgment you’re holding against yourself.
  2. Put your hand on your heart and really consciouslsly pressing self-forgiveness and love into yourself, say this forgiveness slogan:

I forgive myself for judging myself as being “_______”i.e., a failure, not man enough, not strong enough, for being too wimpy).

The truth is, I am “_______” (i.e., a lovable, powerful, kind, talented, worthy, and beautiful man)!

You can’t outrun shame – you have to be willing to give this a shot. I have seen men experience major breakthroughs and relief from this simple and profound practice.