I have made every attempt to claim a positive identity for the Detoxing man. I’ve claimed kindness and Trust and Empathy. But, the more that @WatchfulCoyote spoke about negative identities, the more I realized just how atypical it is for a man to draft a positive sense of self, rather than one that it is in opposition to others.
As he says, “the tough dominant alpha guys have internalized the belief that someone’s gonna be up and someone’s gonna be down.” This binary state of identity becomes a zero-sum argument. If I am strong, you must be weak. If I am confident, you must be insecure. If I am logical, you must be emotional. And not only does this leave no room for spectrums or nuance, it actually makes it impossible to be human. Humans cannot live entirely within the extremes. We cannot be wholly right, and trying to make it seem as though we are is simply a recipe for self-hatred, which is ultimately Watchful Coyote’s point.
By defining ourselves by what we are not and putting ourselves out into the extremes of “100% straight” or “always dominant,” we make it so we hate anyone who is not those things, or agree to hate ourselves whenever we cannot live up to that standard.
Furthermore, in the absolutism of these Negative Identities, there can only be one man who is at the furthest extreme. As he put it in the video, “men are all trying to act tough in ways that prevent them from actually having emotional connections with one another or sharing how they feel if everybody’s trying to be the alpha.” It is this competition with one another that further entrenches our inability to reach out, to find common ground, and ultimately to grow as people. The only thing left to us in the fear of being attacked or pushed further away from this extreme position as “the best or most manly man.”
There is no best man if we define ourselves by what we are not. We can only become our true selves when we make positive affirmations which do not create artificial hierarchies that we can be at the top of. This is why I choose to identify as open and conscious and sincere. I make my life choices without having to identify those who are in opposition to those choices first. In doing this, I do not question if I am lovable. I know that I am loved. I do not question if I am strong enough. I know that I am enough. I do not question if I am gaining ground in this life. Instead, I know that I am grounded, a man without needing others to validate my manliness.
Thank you to Watchful Coyote for this incredibly helpful video. It is an inspiration to many folks to do the work of self-reflection and identity development. If you haven’t watched the whole thing, I recommend that you go do it right now.