Mature Masculine Shame

Men and Emotions: Shame

The other emotion that many men experience and carry with them is shame. There are 2 forms of shame, the unhealthy and the healthy. Unhealthy shame can be crippling, consuming and pervasive in a man’s life and often holds him back from doing the things that he wants to do and being the man he wants to be.

Unhealthy shame shows up in a man’s life specifically around performance. For many men how they perform in life is reflexed on the kind of man he is or isn’t. Performance in the office, in the sports field and in the bedroom have become benchmarks for men to set their standard on what it is to be a man. If a man does not make the cut, he is just that, cut, and the shame in not measuring up cripples him into inaction, passivity, depression and in the worst case suicide. 

Performance alone is not a bad thing. It is being in the action of excelling, of growing and thriving. Where the problem lies is when performance is a direct reflection of a man’s identity and self worth. A man is more than how much money he makes, more than how many people he influences, more than how many points he scores and more than how many orgasms his partner has. That is not to say that a man cannot enjoy his wealth, his fame, sports and his sex life. It is the emphasis that he places on them that can lead to shame. When he does not have the expected results, the expected amount of money, the expected fame and respect, the expected victories and the expected orgasms. The shame comes from believing that he is the result of these and not that they are the result of him.

Shame of not being enough, not being the man you want to be, not being the man that others expected you to be, doesn’t have to be the driving force in a man’s life. Shame needs to be uprooted from its hiding place just below the surface, where it covertly decides what decisions are to be made. This is a powerful force, there is no denying it, but what is more powerful is a man’s inner authenticity and a man’s love.

Unhealthy shame is a shame of the actual person, the individuality and uniqueness of the person. In pursuit of external validation men have created standards to live up to that other men judge and score. If a man doesn’t live up to the standards there is punishment, shaming, bullying and abuse. For a man to overcome his shame he needs the company of men who are not judgemental, not shaming, don’t bully and abuse. Men who see his value not in his performance, but in who he is. Through this interaction a man can then begin to change the way he sees his own authenticity and begin to love himself.

That is the way of the Mature Masculine, stepping away from the toxic expectations and relationships, looking inside and valuing what is there, and seeking Mature men who can help in the process.

There is one further thing. At the beginning I mentioned that there are 2 kinds of shame, healthy and unhealthy. I would like to close with a description of healthy shame. Healthy shame is the shame we feel when we know that we have done something that goes against our values. Actions that we feel ashamed of. This shame can bring us back to our values if we let it, and helps us to question our actions and the motives behind them. This can be very powerful with men who are violent and abusive. It is the shame of the behaviour not the man.


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