Do you feel insecure and inferior at times? Is there a part of you that wants to become more of a man? Would you like to explore how to be free of that feeling and grow completely comfortable and confident in your masculinity?

Now, you may have seen some other conversations about this through your internet travels, but I assure you: this is completely different. Even if you’re a woman, there is a great deal of value that you can gain from this knowledge, so stick with me and let’s get started!

If you feel a sense of insecurity and inferiority about your manhood from time to time, you’re not alone. It’s extremely common, and it can trigger shame pretty rapidly in men.

As a society, we have created and ascribed to certain ideas of how a man is supposed to act.

Many people assume a manly man is loud, dominant, decisive, and always knows exactly what to do—they picture the ideal “alpha male.” These assumptions are based on preconceived notions that have been culturally programmed into our psyches.

There is one man who has done a great job discrediting this idea, and his name is Joe Ehrmann. Joe is an ex-football player turned preacher, who is an amazing guy with a lot of depth and insight. His recent work concerns healing masculine issues and dealing with father-son struggles. Through his work, he has developed what he calls, “the three lies of masculinity.” These are comprised of the ball field, the bedroom, and the billfold.

As you can probably guess, “the ball field” encapsulates sports and the idea that men are supposed to be athletic and excel in at least one sport. This is also wrapped up in the idea that masculinity is determined by strength, size, and your ability to be acknowledged because of them.

As a kid, athletic prowess gets you noticed—it earns you the respect of your peers and can even gain you recognition from the community and additional pride and respect from your parents.

In many cases, the opposite can result in shame, bullying, and emotional abuse.

In the same way, we can feel great shame if we, as men, do not excel in the bedroom (the second lie of masculinity). This is, of course, referring to sexual conquests: how many women you’ve slept with and how many women want to sleep with you. It can even include more personal judgements about issues like infertility or impotence.

The third lie of masculinity is the billfold, which refers to monetary worth, career achievement, and even power. In other words, if you earn a lot of money, hold a powerful position, or own your own business, then you’re a man—if you don’t, then you’re not.

Not only do these lies of masculinity completely overlook some of the most important aspects of manhood, but they also create a rather two-dimensional rubric for manliness by which most men can, in some way, view themselves as failures.

Don’t get me wrong: there is nothing the matter with being good at sports or desiring an exciting sex life or making a ton of money. The problem comes when we base our entire idea of worth on any or all of these aspects of our lives.

Every little thing that we expect of ourselves based on the societal assumptions surrounding manhood is counteractive when it comes to developing our self-worth.

For me, this once even included the idea that men are supposed to be able to “fix things.” Even though I’d never received any sort of training or instruction in the work of a handyman, I would feel great shame in the fact that I didn’t know how to install a dishwasher or fix the garage door or change the oil in my car.

Despite not even being particularly drawn to that sort of work, I used to think of myself as less manly just because of the cultural norms associated with it.

So, what limitations do you put on your own manliness? What do you think it means to be a man, and how are those assumptions holding you back from realizing your full potential?

These outdated definitions (including the ball field, the bedroom, and the billfold) only create unnecessary suffering. They also cause a sort of societal epidemic in our culture of men who are unable to express themselves emotionally or connect with each other and their sons.

My goal is to help offer a new definition of manhood that will allow us to break down these barriers to emotional freedom and allow us to live happily in our own skin.

In continuing with the wisdom of Joe Ehrmann, masculinity is, first and foremost, defined by a man’s ability to love and be loved. A man is someone who can tell his children, “I love you”; A man is someone who can look his partner in the eye and say, “I love you”; and a man is someone who can accept the adoration of those he loves in return. This, surprisingly, takes an extraordinary amount of courage, which is what makes it such a manly action.

A man’s self-worth is also greatly defined by operating from a sense of purpose beyond one’s self. Even if that only involves serving one’s family or community or coworkers with complete selflessness, it’s a key piece of the puzzle.

Thirdly, manhood can be defined by acting with integrity. In order to be at peace in his own mind, a man must check in with himself from time to time to be sure he’s acting in accordance with his better intuition and owning up to it when his actions don’t measure up to his sense of right and wrong.

Love, purpose, and integrity—these are the true measures by which we should judge our value and legacy as men.

What if we could liberate ourselves from the old ways of thinking and focus our attention of more worthwhile pursuits? If we can learn to let go of that programming, perhaps we can learn to appreciate those aspects of ourselves that really matter to our lives, happiness, and those around us.

As always, I invite you to share your thoughts and experiences in the comments below. What has your definition of masculinity been up to this point, and how could you adjust it to include integrity, love, and purpose? I also invite you to subscribe to this channel and “like” this page so that you can begin to receive new information as it’s released.

Until we speak again, may you have the courage to be who you are and to know on a deep level that you’re awesome.