Men's Work

Men's Work

 
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Men's Work: A Practical Guide to Face Your Darkness, End Self-Sabotage, and Find Freedom
By Jonathan Roseland

Book Review: Integrate the shadow of your masculinity before it drags you to hell

Lately, I've been listening to a lot of masculinity podcasts. One of them that doesn't suck is ManTalks with Connor Beaton. So I dove into his personal growth book for men, which also doesn't suck! It really lives up to the second word of its subtitle, A Practical Guide to Face Your Darkness, End Self-Sabotage, and Find Freedom. The book is about a topic I've long shied away from (for some reason)...

Shadow Work

Shadow Work

This comes out of Jungian psychology. Your shadow is not bad or good, but it will royally fuck with your life if you don't integrate it consciously...

And this is where the shadow exists. It is the conglomeration of all you have tried not to be, wanted to hide from others, and avoided about yourself. (p.27)

It is the insecurity you hide in your relationships, the neediness you can’t control, the lies you tell your family, and the judgment you have toward yourself and others. It is the sabotage that shows up when you most wish to succeed. (p.27)

The Shadow of YOUR Father

Chapter three was by far the most meaningful for me. I knew my father's shadow was something I needed to explore when I started to get uncomfortable merely from listening to the audio chapter. I have a decent relationship with my father (I actually interviewed him on my podcast), I'm not particularly bitter and resentful at him for his failings, but when I reflect on our relationship I have a deep sense of longing for what I wanted and needed from him.

It's important for every man to dispense with the ego defense urge that tells us, I'm my own man. I make my own choices. My father doesn't hold any influence or sway in my mind now. Because...

The shadow of your father is neither good nor bad, only inescapable. (p.55)

I found the release the father exercise particularly liberating. It is described... 

Finally, write a letter to your father and create a ceremony to release him. You may write the letter and read it out to your men’s group before burning it, or read the letter when out hiking in the deep woods before burying it. Regardless, the letter is not for your father or to be sent to him, but it should cover two important elements: 1) Everything he did and didn’t do that you’ve held resentment, pain, bitterness, or sadness for, making it clear what exactly you wanted/needed. 2) Forgiving and releasing him entirely from being at fault for the man you are today. Reclaim your sovereignty and make it clear that you are in charge of developing yourself into the man you wish to be. Declare how you will love him and honor him moving forward as a son.

I'll refrain from sharing my letter here, Per the instructions in the book, it's something I won't even share with him.

It also includes prompts to explore the gradations and depths of your father’s anger - a seed planted in you decades ago that can bear poisonous fruit in your life, even if you promised yourself you'd never be like him!

“The One Rule of Men.”

Rule of Men

The rule is simple: Don’t talk about what it’s like to be a man who is struggling.

I think this is kind of like the one rule of The Roughnecks who get slaughtered by giant arachnids in the awesome 90s movie Starship Troopers: "Everyone fights. No one quits." and it makes about as much sense!

Isn't that the truth? With few exceptions - one dude comes to mind that I befriended in Costa Rica (a fellow entrepreneur in the Nootropics space, actually) - the peer-to-peer conversations I have with men burst with bragging. I think of the million stupid conversations I've had with a buddy about how many women he was bedding or how he was killing it in his new hustle.

On Suffering

On Suffering

The truth about pain and suffering is that it’s usually asking you to build yourself into the kind of man who knows how to respond when suffering comes knocking. A man who knows he can navigate through hardship is a man who has immense value to himself, his family, community, and the world. (p.85)

Habituate some arbitrary suffering, so that you're prepared to handle the suffering that this entropic world is going to blindside you with. So cold showers, 24-hour fasts, arduous workouts, combat sports (if you are into them!)

On Women

On Women

The truth is, the way you treat and view women represents the way you treat your own feminine qualities and unconscious mind... In short, women are a mirror reflecting what you are unaware of about yourself as a man. (p.127)

If you habitually treat women like crap or discard them quickly, that reflects deeply on how you regard and respect yourself. That speaks to a gapping disconnect between your values and your actions.

On Cheating

As Henry David Thoreau said, “The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.” I was one of those men. I lived in quiet despair and desperation, and cheating let me believe that I was doing something with my life. As if sleeping with countless women would somehow fill the void of living without purpose. Don’t get me wrong, it’s one thing to date around and be intentional about enjoying an active sex life while building a meaningful existence. But when sex, women, or dating have become the way we find meaning in our existence, we will surely be left unsatisfied and unsatiated. (p. 167)

Sexual Freedom

This is the topic of an entire chapter because it's something almost every man craves; whether he's single and not getting laid or in a relationship and not getting exactly what he wants in the bedroom. Reading the first page of the chapter, I was filled with gratitude because sexually I feel totally free and satisfied. I have no yearning for something different, no feeling of constraint. I think this has a lot to do with the Tantra I've been practicing for half a decade now; taking back control of my sexual energy and focus. Jocko Willink, a highly decorated retired US Navy SEAL and bestselling author, is perhaps most famous for saying that... 

Discipline equals freedom.

Discipline equals freedom.

And that applies in sexual matters. At least for me, the more disciplined I've become, the more I get exactly what I want and am freed from FOMO, comparison, and adolescent fantasies (of threesomes with green alien babes).

Orion slave girls

On being "vulnerable"

When a woman says she wants you to open up or be more vulnerable, what she is really saying is that she wants to know that you are aware of your own internal experience and capable of regulating your emotional state. She wants to be able to validate that you are in some way dealing with the stress, pressures, and chaos of your job, finances, kids, and whatever else you may have on your plate. She doesn’t want you to feel like you have to entirely hide what you’re going through, she just wants to know what its like as you go through your challenges. Yes, she may want to hear about the details of your distress and frustration, but ultimately what she is looking for is not to solve your problems with you or validate your feelings, but to know that you as a man are aware of how you are feeling and capable of navigating through it.

I appreciate that my wife has never bugged me about being "vulnerable!" Maybe it's because I do share with her everything I do on the emotional regulation front, one of the best tools I've found for this (which I don't think gets talked about enough in the personal growth sphere) is Dual N-Back brain training, when I'm doing this consistently I do note an uptick in my emotional control in life.

One thing I appreciated about the book is that it didn't go to great lengths watering down its message and language to be "inclusive" - it speaks frankly to masculine heterosexual men. 

Sexual Insecurity

I'll admit it, this is something I've struggled with; when I was still a virgin in my early 20s, when I went through dry spells that lasted years, when women constantly flaked on dates, and when women weren't interested in dating me even after sex.

Or you might feel a deep insecurity of not being good enough for the woman you’re with or the women you date. What is the wisdom of your insecurity trying to teach you? Do you worry about not being good enough in the bedroom? Maybe you should pick up a few books about sexual skills, take a course, or sign up for a workshop to better learn how to work with your own sexual arousal and energy. Most things, sexual prowess included, are skills you can acquire, deepen, sharpen, and expand over time, so long as you are committed.

To that I might add, there's something called "the wisdom of the cock" that Tantric Taoists speak of: if your dick is uncooperative when it comes time to get down to business with a lady, maybe your dick is trying to tell that this is NOT the lady for you. But if your bedroom performance is something you often think could be improved, with positive ramifications for your relationship, look into Tantra. The things that you can do to improve your relationship and sexual stamina tend to take a lot of time and work - couples therapy and going to the gym to up your testosterone - along with not being cheap. But not Tantra, in about three weeks of "practice" you'll become a multi-orgasmic man, much more capable of powerfully pleasing his lady. It's been so beneficial for my marriage that I put together a deep-dive 7-part course that guides you through everything you need to know.

Master Mind Master Body Master Her
 
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Which you can watch the first module of for free here...

The Journaling Prompts

model of psyche

The most impactful takeaway from the book for me was the journaling prompts; questions that challenge you to dig deep within yourself to excavate that which will liberate you from the past. Like...

What I wanted my father to teach me as a boy was . . .
When I think about myself as a boy, I feel . . .
As a child, what I needed most from my father that I didn’t get was . . .
What my father gave me that was invaluable was . . .
If I had the perfect male role model, what I’d want to learn from him is . . .
The one skill or trait I’ve always wanted to develop is . . .
Where I still act out of control, petulant, or like a child is . . .
The skills I want to develop are . . .
The one passion I’ve wanted to pursue more actively is . . .

If you pick up the book, don't just blow through it as an audiobook. Take a Sunday afternoon to go through the journaling prompts - you'll learn some things about yourself that make you a better man.

 It's the Best Time to Be a Man!

The aeriform digital realm of the Manosphere is sometimes characterized as a moanosphere because thoughtful men have A LOT of complaints about modernity. About the appalling state of Western Civilization, the bias and impediments we face in the contemporary workplace, the dumbing down of society, retarded woke culture, the leftist politics wrecking our countries, and of course, the fallen state of the modern single woman. Having been steeped in Manosphere content for at least a decade, while living in seven different countries, I've reached the surprising conclusion that it's the best time to be a man.

That might sound a little crazy. Look how hard it is to get a good job, keep up with the cost of living, meet a nice girl, stay healthy, and raise a family these days, you may say, and you're right. But I think that a man, philosophically, should compare to the ideal and the average - and, in the final calculus, lean more towards the latter than the former. The fathering I received from my dad was far from the ideal, but compared to the average boomer dad (and certainly the historical average), my dad did a decent job.

If you honestly compare life as a modern man in the roaring train wreck of the 2020s to any other era, it becomes clear that today (more than in any other era), you have more freedom to architect the life you want. Compare and you'll start to liberate yourself from the victim mindset that the state of society is holding you back. If I were a man like myself in the...

  • 1980s or1990s - Maybe I could have made more money in the booming economy. But there was no easy-to-find red pill knowledge about women so I probably would have simply married the prettiest girl willing to sleep with me repeatedly, then she would have gotten fat from eating the toxic mainstream standard American diet, we would have gotten divorced, and I'd lose a bunch of the money I'd made (along with my kids, maybe!)
  • 1960s or 1970s - Watching mankind's greatest leap live on black and white television would have been very special, but then I'd get drafted to go get a hard case of PTSD (that nobody knew how to treat back then) in Vietnam. In the 70s economy was dogshit and the culture was deeply degenerate - this would have either ensnared me or corrupted whatever woman I ended up with.
  • 1950s - It would have been pretty sweet to afford a brand new home, a new car, a dutiful stay-at-home wife, and yearly family vacations to some sunny place on my salary! But then my kids would grow up, go to college on my dime, and become utterly corrupted by the burgeoning cultural Marxist movements that I wouldn't have known how to warn them about.
  • 1930s or 1940s - The Great Depression would have made the modern economy look like Zurich, Switzerland! Then I would get drafted to go fight in World War 2.
  • 1910s. or 1920s - If I managed to not get my face blown off in a trench in World War 1 or get taken out by the Spanish Flu, swing dancing to jazz in the roaring 20s would have been spanky.

And in any other era - yeah, maybe it would have been easier to meet a nice marriageable maiden - almost everything about life sucked! You would have had a lot less human and civil rights. Options for personal and economic edification were next to nonexistent. Your work would have been unending backbreaking labor - life would have been, in two words, tedious and tiresome. And you could be forced at any time to go fight and die in some brutal war. You might think that guys in other historical eras had better sex lives with better women, but historically less than 50% of men actually got the chance to reproduce, many men simply never got to have sex because kings and warlords hoarded women in harems. In relatively recent European society, unless you achieved some success, no patriarch would give you his daughter's hand in marriage.

In any era, a man's life is rife with struggle and challenge and in their relative absence we get weak men who make bad times (looking at you, boomer dads!) But only in modernity is that struggle and challenge overcome with the habitual rejection of comfort which will launch you on an invigorating odyssey of personal transformation that makes you happier, healthier, and freer.

  • Yeah, it's hard to meet a nice girlfriend these days; so stop fapping to porn, learn to daygame approach women (which is an exhilarating rush), hit the gym (which will make you feel great about yourself), do meditation (which will free you in your own mind), go salsa dancing (which is easier to learn than it looks!), learn to have some standards with women, and avoid making the dumb relationship mistakes by reading a few books. 
  • Yeah, the economy sucks and your 9-5 might have you ballin' on a budget, so start an entrepreneurial side hustle, buy Bitcoin and hodl it till the next Halvening, or do what I did; start an online business and move to a sunnier, friendlier country with a lower cost of living.
  • Yeah, nowadays most of what is sold at the grocery store is frankenfood that royally fucks with our testosterone. So don't eat it, get into Biohacking; rigorously cultivate a healthy lifestyle that fortifies your male essence.
  • Yeah, we're becoming a low-trust society in the West. Maybe you lack real friends and community. So cultivate tribe; be more intentional about your social life, join a martial arts club, spend a little time daily staying in touch with people, start a local men's group, heck, go back to church!

In any other era (which you are photoshopping the smallpox scars out of in your fantasies), you would have had just as many challenges holding you back from a good life, but they would have almost certainly been things that you were POWERLESS to affect! And you would have been totally bereft of the knowledge and tools that modern man has for reclaiming his sovereignty. I have an awesome sex life because I randomly heard about Tantra on the internet. In any other era without the internet's long tail of content, I would have been a two-pump chump with a bitchy, unsatisfied lady under my roof. 

I wouldn't want to have been born at any other time than 1985.

Conclusion

But as good as the tools for personal transformation are today, your shadow lurks. Maybe you'll make a fortune founding an AI startup, but that doesn't mean that you've escaped the gravity well of your personal history. Your shadow is not bad or good but simply inescapable, to paraphrase this book. Which you should read so your shadow doesn't drag you to hell.

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Book Review of "Men's Work" by Connor Beaton
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