I became aware the other day that I was deferring far too much to my very capable and successful partner. My attention was drawn to this little dance when I noticed that she was showing a subtle indication of frustration of how unnecessary it was for me to pester her with a succession of unnecessary questions.
"What do you think I should do about this?" "Should I do this?"
I caught myself developing a habit. It had probably started a few weeks earlier but in that moment I realised I was beginning to make it a habit to seek her feedback and guidance on almost everything I was doing - when I didn't actually need her assistance. I'm abundantly equipped to make a call on most decisions in life. She concurred. So I ceased deferring to her.
We can change any habit like this - the first step is to recognise it, and the second is to share it verbally with our partners, and if necessary with our mates.
This openness appears to have been labelled Manxiety. There is nothing new in men experiencing anxiety about aspects of their lives, but it is this open sharing that is a relatively new phenomena.
If Manxiety is sharing what is going on for you I say, 'Yay!' Manxiety has to be a great development for men.
It could be a sign that the ways of my father's generation are coming to an end. Where 'solid' men were conditioned to suppress their emotions, and develop an inability to tell it like it is. If I think back on all the things I heard that men should be when I was a child, it's no wonder I became emotionally suppressed - 'real men don't cry', 'don't make a fuss lad', 'harden up boy!'
It's empowering that men have started sharing what they are anxious about. This takes courage; but it is an important step in allowing anxiety to move on. If we want to change the way we behave we need first to see what we are doing, and rather than 'bottle it up' and allow it to disturb our peace, it's so liberating to share it and let it go. Women have been doing it for years - and it has served them well.
It's fine to have thoughts or thinking that induce stress - the trick is to not judge it as being wrong. In letting go of the thinking that is creating the discomfort, we reveal who we truly are, and we can step forward and change our relationship to that stress.
I went through a phase in my journey where I was sharing my anxieties with women and men. Generally it was well received, sometimes not. It didn't bother me. But by me becoming aware of my anxieties and not taking them personally or seriously I was able to let them be as there were, and they had less power over me.
The thing that excites me about the current phase of Manxiety is that it could lead to an even more empowering experience for men. It took me about a year to move through the Manxiety phase. I realised I didn't want my life distracted by the on-going discussion about anxious thoughts and patterns of thinking. So I did something that I thought was even more feminine than becoming 'emotionally intelligent' - I learnt to meditate. And what a shift in my experience of life that was. I was able to let go of the thoughts of inadequacy, and judgments about other people, and the prevailing idea that there was something wrong with my life. The thoughts still appeared but I mastered allowing those thoughts to float by without having any impact on me.
I still have thoughts like 'Shit! I'll be sixty soon.' 'I hope I'm going to have enough money to see me through to the end'. 'God. My hairline is receding way too far and fast'. The thoughts come and go, but I don't identify with them, and I don't experience concern or stress. I have no interest in allowing the thoughts to distract my attention from an endlessly peaceful presence.
I reckon being able to openly express what's up for us - indulging in Manxiety - is an effective step towards letting go of anxiety.