The Plight of the Toxic Male Ego
It seems these days every time you turn on the TV, or open up your internet browser, we see another scandal involving a man. It’s most polarizing in Hollyweird, where some of your favorite actors, musicians, and comedians are being accused, and ultimately confessing to, lewd sexual conduct. This speaks to some sort of narcissistic privilege, where a “celebrity” is inserting their perceived power over women. Both egotistical and disgusting, but nothing new. This has been happening in certain cultures since the beginning of time.
At the other end of the spectrum, men are exaggerating the “macho” thing, feeling like they need to have a series of toxic pursuits in order to be considered a man. There is no justification for sexual misconduct, no matter what your story is. But, let’s dive in and discuss a few things.
Where does this all come from?
A little about myself.
I was raised in a single parent home, in one of the most drug fueled neighborhoods in the United States of America. My neighborhood was filled with young boys who, like me, were forced to grow up fast and learn how to be a kid soldier. My goal wasn’t education, fun, or to face the typical things kids worry about. My concerns were survival; how to navigate and dodge crack heads on the streets; extreme bullying; violence at home; toxic family members; and struggling with the role of man-child.
My home life consisted of second generation domestic abuse. I watched my mom be violently attacked by my father, almost daily. My mother grew up in a family setting where she didn’t have the most emotionally supportive family. Her self-esteem was compromised. My grandfather suffered severe PTSD and psychological effects from WW2. Unfortunately, he violently took it out on his family. My dad only knew violence. He left his house at 17, with an obscure view of what it means to be a man.
Although I don’t blame my parents (especially my mother), I grew up to have many social issues. Needless to say, I see the pattern of toxicity in today's society and though my narrative was different, I can see how hints of my experience can shape a generation of fragile male egos.
Up until 2010, I felt like I was a pretty sweet man who honestly loved everyone around me. But, when I entered the nightlife scene, and procured a project representing a major liquor company, I started to change. My job was to pop bottles and be around “sexy” women 24/7. My fantasy world did nothing for my personal development. It only fed my huge ego. The environment was a blur at the time, and alcohol was always around. I was drinking way too much. Life was moving so fast.
My relationships were also compromised. I rushed into a marriage knowing that we didn’t have a real connection. I didn’t speak up. This gave way to infidelity, lies, and deceit, all of which are unforgivable when you take a vow. I treated the people closest to me like minions. I felt like I always had to insert my dominance in every situation. I enjoyed being “The Man,” but deep down inside, I knew I created this world in order to hide from the little boy who was trapped. I had created a candyland, where any pleasure or need I wanted was met. I trusted no one to check my fragile ego, and when they attempted to, I lashed out. I purely latched on to ego in order to cope, deal and feel important.
Toxic Masculinity vs Toxic Ego
I stopped using the term “Toxic Masculinity” after truly understanding the definition of “masculinity.” Call it semantics but entertain me for a second.
Merriam-Webster defines Masculinity as: “having qualities appropriate to or usually associated with a man.” Ego is defined as: “a person's sense of self-esteem or self-importance.” It doesn't get much deeper than that. Thus, I decided to use the term “Toxic Male Ego” instead of “Toxic Masculinity.” Why? The behavior that most men are exhibiting is not masculinity. Rather, it is a projection of low self-worth or value that includes belittling, taking advantage of someone (sexually or otherwise), and/or inserting dominance. These are the characteristics of a bruised ego, and toxicity at that; not a masculine quality, which explains why many men deal with the need to validate their egos with this behavior.
Why? Is it psychological issues from the past? Culture? Upbringing? I don’t have the answer, as each case is unique, but we must get to a place where we can CHECK OURSELVES. I see many men who run away from their sub-conscious trauma and never dive deep enough to discover why they are the way they are.
Failing my way to Success
My road to recovery from toxic ego was falling flat on my face, having no other option but to face the REAL me. Although I was involved in a bitter, public divorce that included bad behavior, at the end of the day, it was the best thing to ever happen to me. After finally signing the divorce papers, I was able to move on with my life. I began looking to join a group, where dynamic men could be vulnerable, not judged, and would help develop key qualities towards becoming a better man.
I couldn’t find anything. I wasn’t into the “stiff-stuff.” The groups I saw were only presenting an image of the “suit and tie guy” who has it all together. I began to toy around with the idea of creating something cool for today’s progressive man, complete with personal and professional enrichment. Sitting on the idea for two years, a group of friends and I started what was to become the Mastermind Connect, helping make my dream a reality. We pulled the trigger during the Fall of 2016, with baggage in tow but a vision of betterment.
The Mastermind Connect
One year later; a partnership with the New York City Department of Education; approximately 40 events under our belt; and a mentorship program for inner city teens; we’ve accomplished our goal. Mastermind Connect has made me a better man in all aspects of my life. Although I continue to work on a few things, I’m killing my toxic ego. I’m learning to have a clear balance of masculine and feminine energy , to fully enjoy all that life has to offer.
You will make mistakes, fail and feel like you’re on an island by yourself sometimes, but never forget it’s never too late to HEAL. Our reflection must include an understanding that we all need to do our part to build a nation of healthier men. We ALL need to start the healing process and reclaim masculinity.