There is one major difference that separates men from women – the way they display fear.
I’m not referencing the fear that comes upon you when you are under deadly assault. This is more about the fear that permeates your life in general.
By and large, men lead their lives frustrated and women go through life dissatisfied. I’m sure there are elegant examples to the contrary but if you just said “this doesn’t apply to me,” you are most likely in denial.
Dr. Dave Dobson, whom I cite often, says that we come out of the birthing canal with one sensation – fear. The way we display it and the degree to which we act it out takes on a vocabulary of its own – apprehension, cautiousness, anger, nervousness, annoyed, hurt, fight or flight, paranoia, etc. These words are all subsets of the thing we first learn – fear.
Frustration and Dissatisfaction are forms of fears that have been culturally conditioned within men and women. Think of little boys being admonished for crying, while there is a level of expectation for crying in little girls. It’s all part of the early conditioning that affects most men and women their entire lives.
Did you ever see a group of 5 year old girls playing King of the Mountain? “Young ladies don’t engage in that behavior” is a conditioning phrase as is, “Little boys don’t play with dolls” – (unless, of course, they have weapons and are called “action figures.”)
Men have been conditioned since a very early age that they “must know and know right now.” It’s an expectation. Frankly, it’s the reason there are more stuttering boys than girls. The speed with which they are to answer pressures them to say something before the response is formed. The impatient parent causes them to have a halting response which becomes a pattern. Stutterers aren’t born but formed.
When the boss asks a man for an answer, there is no time for quiet reflection. An instant answer is expected and given – often the wrong answer. Women are puzzled when they tell their man their problems as to why he goes into solution mode. It’s his conditioning. She may just want a sounding board but men are conditioned to have to know. It’s also why many men won’t stop and ask for directions.
Men live under a double bind where an impossible demand is put upon them that they are expected to fulfill. Philosopher, Alan Watts said it this way:
“Anybody who lives under the dominance of a double bind is living in a state of chronic frustration. He is devoting his life to solving a problem that is meaningless and nonsensical precisely because it has no solution.”
This cultural expectation of men has them constantly seeking control, which doesn’t exist, that just adds to the frustration and often leads to anger. Who attends more anger management classes, men or women? You now have an appreciation how it got to be that way.
Women live in a stew of dissatisfaction. They can never seem to get where they want to go because something always seems to be standing in their way or holding them back. Conditioning is the culprit. Think of the attitudes that have been displayed in the past towards women. “Why does she want to go to college? We’ll just spend all that money and she’ll wind up married and pregnant.” There is not a lot of expectation for girls in many cultures and that attitude gets passed on. Women as a result do a lot of settling. They settle for this and they settle for that until it blossoms into full blown dissatisfaction.
I talk about this at all of my seminars when I present my Improve your Self Image CD. There comes a point in most women’s lives where they ask some form of the question, “Is this all there is?” it’s when women begin to fall apart. It means their patterns are coming unglued and things that had meaning for them in the past no longer contain the same meaning. Any superficiality they have begins to come unraveled.
Warning: It gets tricky here.
When the old patterns begin to fall apart, they dig their heels in for one last stand (like Tom Hanks in Saving Private Ryan.) Women actually become more superficial during this time. They do so many things out of character. They’ll get into therapy, take dangerous prescription drugs like Prozac and the like, they’ll get a tattoo on their butt, get a wild new hairdo, or institute a major wardrobe change, have an affair, get a divorce, start smoking pot, yadda, yadda.
The good news is most women figure it out, well before men, that nothing on the outside is going to change their life. That’s when the superficiality ends and they put their lives back together and find satisfaction in discovering themselves vs. their role. They had been searching for satisfaction in a cultural role that was denied them. That’s the sad irony. The satisfaction isn’t in the role; it’s in discovering that who you really are is much deeper than anything that culture has to offer.
Sorry to report that most men stay superficial until about 10 minutes before they die. It’s conditioning. The illusion of control has them hang on, for almost their entire life, to the idea that the answer is out there.
I can tell you from experience that one of the most peaceful experiences you’ll witness is a dying man giving up control. The peacefulness that they enjoy in those fleeting moments could have been with them 50 years sooner by discovering, as Eckhart Tolle calls it, “the life beneath your life’s situation.”
If you find yourself in a perpetual state of frustration or dissatisfaction, you need to fall apart. I can tell you from personal experience it’s not a pleasant, yet a necessary step to find the deeper you. Trust that there is a more fulfilling answer than the one you’re looking for by chasing the horizon. You’re going to find that satisfying answer. The only question is: How soon can you let go of the façade that you call you?
All the best,
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