A true gentleman is not a role player, but rather a man who lives his truth
I have a question for you.
What if the biggest obstacle keeping you from being the greatness that you are is the fact that you are pretending to be someone you are not?
Just take a moment to consider that. How does it feel?
Light or heavy?
How does the idea that you might be playing a part, or a role, in your life rather than living as you, feel to you?
Is it a possibility?
That’s all for now — we’ll come back to that question soon enough.
In this first part of our journey I’d like to invite you to explore ideas around role-playing, and how, as a man, you may feel you have to put on an act, play a part, be someone else — just to meet external expectations (and maybe some internal ones too).
If you choose to join me, I’d like you to get to a point where you can identify if you are playing a role in any of the relationships in your life and invite you to see how playing certain roles may be obstructing your capacity to be YOU.
When you are aware of the roles that are holding you back, you can choose something different. When you choose beyond the roles that are holding you back, you begin to be a true gentleman in the world.
Should and Supposed To
There are two phrases which are really useful to help you identify whether you are playing a role, or whether you are being you.
Allow me to introduce you to should,and his very good friend,supposed to.
Think about it… How often do you use these words?
I should do this.
I’m supposed to do that.
Do those phrases create a lightness in your world at all? Or a sense of obligation?
When you are operating from what you (or the people in your life) think you ‘should’ do – or are ‘supposed to’ do – how much freedom do you have?
What if a true gentleman can play any role and be anything – but from his own choice and sense that it would create something greater – rather than from expectation or obligation? When you show up in the world according to the expectations of other people in your life (as well as your own!), you are being a doormat rather than a true gentleman.
Basically, you keep yourself in a very small box.
Say Hello to Choice and Space
When you are functioning from all of the roles you think you are supposed to play for other people – in order to be a ‘good’ partner, parent, employee – or a man in the world – you lose one of the most essential aspects of being a gentleman: question and choice.
What if you started to ask the following three questions for…well…EVERYTHING?
What would create the most value here?
What would I like to create?
What would a true gentleman choose to be and do here?
There is no space for you to be the greatness that you are if you believe you don’t have the choice to be anything outside of the roles you are playing.
There is no space for you to be the greatness that you are if you’re trapped in a box of other people’s (or your own) expectations.
What if being a gentleman is not about showing up the way people want you to?
What if being a gentleman is about showing up in the world and in your relationships in a way that will always create something greater – for others as well as for you?
And what if that can look different in every situation? When you can choose what is going to work for you, you become empowered, you have more fun, and your relationships can become greater, too!
Why Do We Play Roles?
Let’s start with the obvious, the surface-level stuff about why we might find ourselves in a place where we’ve taken on a particular role in one or many of our relationships.
We’ve established that playing a role has a lot to do with expectations. We understand that we may modify our behavior — or even pretend to be someone else entirely — just to live up to other people’s expectations, and to fit in their box.
Somewhere, somehow, a connection has been made wherewe equate not fitting into someone else’s box with letting them down, being unkind, and not respecting them.
We think that if we were our full self, if we let it all out, really exhaled and let our gorilla get comfortable, we’d be selfish, and someone who doesn’t care for or respect others.
Excuse me — who are you calling a gorilla???
Oops — I introduced him too early. Don’t worry — we’ll come back to him.
One of the most uncaring and disrespectful things we can do to ourselves is get in that box and stay there. It is more destructive to fit into that box than to flatten it or crush it.
The most destructive thing you can do is try to be something you are not.
But… bombshell moment…
It’s not just other people’s boxes we force ourselves into: it’s our own too.
The box you are squashed into may actually have been constructed by you.
Just consider that. Here it is again:
The box you are squashed into may actually have been constructed by you.
Check how it feels: light or heavy?
You may be playing a role or assuming a particular identity in your life because at some point you decided, or concluded, perhaps not cognitively — that it’s what other people expect of you, and it’s what you expect of yourself.
What happens if you don’t play a role you decided you ought to play? Well, at first, you might feel like a failure, and all other kinds of wrong. And why? Because, chances are, my friend, you are living in judgment of yourself.
Consider the possibility that you may be playing some of the roles in your relationships because you decided to, and because you’ll judge yourself as a failure if you don’t.
So, I said I’d come back to the gorilla. He weighs 800 lbs. and he’s squashed into a box that is far, far too small for him. He’s cramped, he’s uncomfortable, he has no room to be himself. He might have even had to cut parts of himself off just to fit.
(Weird when you think he might have helped construct that box himself, isn’t it?)
Let’s take a look at some of the boxes that we, as men, in this reality, have tried to fit ourselves into — but this time we’re focusing on the roles we’ve played purely in the relationships we’ve had with women, or whomever we are attracted to.
But First: Caution!
I’ve said this already, but I’ll say it again: being a gentleman is not another role for you to play.
The key word here is ‘being’. Being a gentleman. Not playing at being a gentleman. Not pretending you are a gentleman while secretly believing you are not. It’s about being the best you can be as a man in this world — whatever that looks like for you.
Don’t worry if that feels too vague or far-off right now.
Some Typical Boxes
Let’s go back to a conversation I had with my friend Liam that kick-started this whole movement around returning to be a gentleman. Liam, like so many of you, felt stranded.
He wanted guidance on how to be a man in this reality, and when he looked for advice — all he found were tips on how to get women to sleep with him, and how to dominate women. Namely: how to be the alpha male. Things like: How to Become an Alpha Male: 13 Steps (with Pictures)or How to Be an Alpha Male: Ten Traits of the Modern Day Alpha.
A look in a dictionary says that an alpha male is someone “tending to assume a dominant or domineering role in social or professional situations” and that “most alpha males need to control the women in their lives.”
But what if you are not interested in domination and control over women? What if you are interested in a different way of being with them and the world, a way that is about kindness and being a gentleman?
If being an alpha male is not appealing to you and you are looking for something different, for most men, the only other choice is to be the opposite: something I would call a ‘SNAG’ (sensitive new age guy). Here, you don’t get to have testicles, and you have to be mostly at the whim of what women – and the world – want from you.
What if there is something beyond the ‘either/or’ of alpha male orsensitive new age guy? What If you could simply be you?
Let’s show ‘either/or’ to the door, once and for all! And I’m not just talking about the alpha male OR the SNAG. I also invite you to get rid of notions such as…
Masculine OR feminine.
Sexual OR vulnerable.
Powerful OR emotional.
Strong OR kind.
Because… (and this next sentence is important): Judgments, conclusions and points of view always limit creation and create separation.
Judgments, conclusions and points of view always limit creation and create separation.
When we move away from black and white thinking (or judgments, conclusions and points of view), we move away from those sneaky places where we separate from ourselves and from each other. And when you get out of separation, you have a space of beingthat also gives you much greater access to what is true for you.
And you can be so much in that space. You can be present with your partner and you can let them know when you could use their presence, too. You can be vulnerable and potent, silly and tenacious, weird and wonderful without having to fit a defined role of who you can and can’t be in any given moment.
So, my friend, let me ask you:
Are you willing to let go of those roles that are not at all the product of an empowered choice?
Time for a New Role?
I get that it can be scary to let go of a role you have been playing for a long time. But all I am inviting you to do is to get to a place where you are open to something else, to another way of being. By opening yourself up to the possibility of letting go of any roles which are holding you back, you will create that space and freedom around you, where wonderful, amazing changes occur. Things that right now seem far away, and impossible — start here.
If you are willing to choose it.
If you are willing to let go of pretending, should’s, and supposed-to’s.
If you are willing to go beyond judgments, conclusions and points of view.
If you are open to having all the space you need to be your greatest self.
I have a few more questions for you. You might never have asked yourself these kinds of questions before. Just see what comes up for you:
If it were up to me, what would I like to choose?
How would I like to be?
How would I like to show up in the world?
The 800lb Gorilla
When you allow yourself to be the 800lb gorilla in the room, you occupy all the space, leaving no room for myriad parts of your full self. It’s not about being the biggest, strongest, most muscly guy — because when you are being you, you don’t have to use force, or be intimidating to get your point across. Whether you’re 800lb or 100lb, when you are being you, you dissolve the boxes and boundaries around you, the world changes around you as a result, and you begin to be the greatest “you” you can be.
And how do you know? Well for one, you begin to have admiration and gratitude when you look at that guy in the mirror.
But…what about the women?
“Pssst, Dain, Dain — this is really great and yeah, I’m totally onboard for choosing something different, but please will you just tell me — what kind of man do women really want?”
My friend and fellow seeker, yes, I do understand why you might want to know this.
Here is the Catch 22 of that question: If your main purpose is to make sure you give people (some of them women) what they decided they want from you – where do YOU fit into that equation? You always end up in second place.
It puts you in a state of ‘should’. It brings up a whole load of supposed-to’s. It’s the beginning of cutting you off from you, because what becomes vital is all of those other people’s (women’s) needs.
Try this instead: flip it around. Instead of thinking about how you should be in order for women to find you attractive, consider how you would like to be in the world, and when you are being that — who will find you attractive? Who will find you valuable, who will want to be around you, when you are being how you would like to be?
Tap into the awareness of something different. Tap into that space — that is enough. You are enough.
And besides, if you choose what is true for you, you will naturally be more attractive and more potent.
Once you start to embrace new possibilities, amazing things happen. It’s like a domino effect — something new will come into your world and that new thing will have more possibility and consciousness to it. And then your choices expand, and what you can be gets greater, and what you can contribute changes too!
Just like that. Oh, and you may find yourself getting happier, too!
This article is an adapted excerpt from Dain Heer’s book, Return of the Gentleman
You may also enjoy reading 3 Steps to Love Your Body: A Morning Ritual to Expand Self Love, by Dain Heer