The road to becoming a mature man is paved with obstacles. It offers some hard lessons along the way that you either learn from or find yourself hopelessly going in circles.
If I could offer one word of advice to my younger self traveling this road, it’d be this…
No one is coming to save you.
I wasted so much time on dead-end schemes, feeling sorry for myself, and feeling lost. I circled that loop of self-loathing and blaming everyone else for so long it became unconscious.
Looking back, I’m certain that some part of me felt comfortable in that cycle because I thought I was entitled to a happy ending. “I’m a good person” keeps people in situations like mine – fat, aimless, addicted, yet expecting someone or something to happen along and make it all better.
Life calls upon you to be the leader of your own destiny. You have to accept that call to graduate into manhood and emotional maturity. More often than not, we ignore the call in favor of retaining the comfort and naivete of a child.
I eventually figured it out, but can’t help but imagine what life would look like if I’d had this information earlier. Here’s what I’d tell my younger self on how to mature as a man.
Learn to solve problems before they become problems
Difficulties in life are rarely surprises.
Listen to someone who always has problems vent about them, and you would believe that they have the most unfortunate streak of bad luck. But ask a few questions, and it’s clear that they bypassed or flat-out ignored dozens of red flags.
Random occurrences and ‘bad luck’ aren’t really random if you know they always eventually occur. I’m not saying random things don’t happen.
But planning and making contingencies help you take an offensive approach to be less blindsided and avoid hard times. This prepares you for your problems instead of tip-toeing through life in fear of them.
For example, you know that eventually, your car will have an issue, someone will throw a party, something in your home will break, etc…
So you learn to budget for these “random” occurrences.
This also applies to relationships.
Volatile people who are always ready to fight over little things will at some point pick a fight with you. The girl you’re dating who disrespects you during an argument will amplify that disrespect later.
That friend who never pays you back is never going to pay you back.
Your ability to recognize these things gives you the foresight to see what they can become and how bad it can get. Good decision-making requires that you observe events, think about what led to them, and recognize when you start to see these signs again.
Once you notice a pattern, take action before letting the situation worsen.
Take willful ownership of yourself and your environment
Refusing to take responsibility for situations will keep you in them. You can’t take control of your life until you take ownership of yourself and everything in your environment.
I was always coming up with an excuse for why I was failing out of college, why I needed to drink and why my life was the way it was.
It wasn’t until I was fed up with my own bullshit that I was able to make a real change.
Immature people are comfortable making excuses for themselves because it’s easier than the realization that you are responsible for having a life you hate. This is called confirmation bias –
taking credit when things go right but passing the blame when they go wrong. 1
Terrible things do happen. No one gets out of life without trauma but it’s your responsibility to deal with and recover from that trauma – even if you weren’t the cause of it.
Your parents abused or neglected you… Have you studied the effects this can have in adulthood and gotten the help you need? What can you do to help someone else who has gone through it?
You got cheated or scammed… What signs did you ignore? What made you miss or overlook faulty logic or character flaws?
Another driver hits your car… Could you have anticipated their negligence or recklessness? How can you use this situation to strengthen your patience and gratitude?
Leave the excuses for other people, but hold yourself to a higher standard. This puts you in a place where you aren’t a victim but an active participant in your life.
Taking aggressive responsibility for your life puts you in a position for personal growth and greater self-esteem.
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Forgive your parents
People often bring up parental issues when it serves them.
It’s easier to blame your parents than it is to work through unresolved trauma and become a better person. Many people reach adulthood, realize life is hard, and blame their parents for not putting them further ahead. Others refuse the burden of maturing their mindset to realize that their parents are fallible human beings.
For a long time, I resented my mom for how we grew up.
I couldn’t understand why we had to grow up in the hood. I constantly felt unsafe. It wasn’t until much later that I realized she was doing the best she could for us.
My mother frustrated me until the day she died but I cherish the last months I spent by her hospital bed. And at her funeral, I learned how much she touched the lives of other people.
Parents aren’t perfect. They make mistakes. They do the best they can. And holding them responsible for the rest of your life is the fastest way to never achieve anything worth having.
Forgive your parents for who you believe they should’ve been and go create the life you want.
Learn more about building better relationships with your parents here.
Recognize when you have a problem
I gave many years of my life over to alcohol. It kept me from facing my depression and deep dissatisfaction with my life. My life didn’t change until I could truly look myself in the eye and say you have a problem and decided to do something about it.
Alcohol is easy to abuse because it’s acceptable, even expected, to drink large quantities when you’re young. But being out of control of your impulses keeps you stuck in the same unproductive loops.
Learn to recognize when you have an addiction or are on your way to one, then get the help you need.
Don’t be a slave to your dick
Random sex is overrated and relationships are undervalued.
Sure, random sex can be fun – but it gets old, and more often than not, it makes your life harder than it has to be.
Young men are often beholden to their sexual emotions and make poor decisions chasing women. These guys are either idealizing women or making low-quality mating choices.
Learning to not be led by your sexual impulses is a sign of maturity. It makes room to develop romantic relationships with women that lift you up and make you want to be better.
The paradox of man is that the woman that your dick likes may not be the type of woman that improves your life. In fact, it often likes the type of woman that quite literally and objectively makes your life worse.
Kingdoms and fortunes have been lost due to poor sexual choices.
Avoid this trap by putting your sexual energy in its proper place.
Don’t seek to be liked
Being likable is an asset. And as a strategy, you should make yourself as likable as possible.
However, you should never attach your sense of self-worth to people’s opinions and others liking you.
You need to make the best decisions for your own life and that won’t always align with what everyone else wants for you.
Going your own way will sometimes even come across as arrogant or self-indulgent. You have to be willing to make people unhappy, including your parents, friends, or spouse. It makes you less prone to abuse and being taken advantage of by others. It also shows you who your real friends are.
Paradoxically, trying too hard to be liked often makes you unlikeable. People pleasing makes you come across as inauthentic and displays your insecurities. Trying too hard to fit in makes you unoriginal and keeps you from standing out.
When you’re not worried about being liked, you have more genuine social interactions free of anxiety and manipulation. It becomes easier to set boundaries, value your time, and act in your best interests without guilt.
Learn to manage your money
…Or it’ll always control you
Managing money is a lesson most of us learn too late. For example, automating your savings and bill payments is one way to guarantee you don’t end up spending more than you have. It takes the burden of self-control out of your hands.
If you don’t make enough to cover your bills and save then do what’s necessary to earn a higher income. That could be anything from learning more skills, getting another job, or starting your own business
Read This is why you’re poor for more info.
Go into unfamiliar environments
When I was boxing. I had to relocate to LA from Chicago. It was the first time I was outside of my circle of friends and comfort zone. I had to learn to rely on myself and grow in ways that I never had previously.
Being in unfamiliar, uncomfortable situations forces you to grow and makes you more resilient. In fact, embracing discomfort is the only way to grow. It’s easy to feel confident surrounded by people who love you but don’t challenge you.
Facing struggle is the only way to gain real self-confidence. Get around other people improving themselves. The discomfort and inadequacy you feel are enough of a catalyst to force you to grow.
Final thoughts on how to mature as a man
Maturing into manhood is a trial by fire. When you continuously commit to the path, you’re rewarded with wisdom and strength that only get better with time.
Here’s how to mature as a man:
- Become a proactive problem-solver
- Own everything in your life and environment, starting with yourself
- Give your parents grace and accept their shortcomings
- Don’t lie to yourself about addiction
- Control your sexual urges before they control you
- Detach your sense of self-worth from other people liking you
- Learn to make money work for you
- Embrace the unfamiliar
Hope that helps. The rest is up to you.
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Kolbert, Elizabeth. Why Facts Don’t Change Our Minds The New Yorker. Feb 27, 2017. https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2017/02/27/why-facts-dont-change-our-minds (accessed Jan 2023) ↩