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I know this was aimed at men, but it totally goes both ways. We all need to get over ourselves, love the body, gender, life we’re living and accept — dare I say love? — our humanness. For that’s part of why we’re here!
Yes Carma, this is 100% for both genders– I just happened to be at a conference speaking to men when I delivered it.
I agree now so strongly is conneted differents ways thanks for all!!!
Very powerful stuff Alex. Thank you. What else needs to be said? This is the very essence of love.
“The path to being confident is not to no longer do that dumb-shit thing that’s so embarrassing to me, it’s to be cool with that dumb-shit thing that you’re going to be doing for the rest of your life.”
Herein lies the revolution.
Incredibly perceptive!!! I’ve iften thought vaguely about this gift of forgiveness/acceptance… and you nailed it! Thank you!
Your ideas are right on target. This is another facet of love. It is also called tolerance.
Please don’t refer to breasts at ‘t..s”. It’s gross. You said it in a really angry, hostile way as well…and angry and hostile does not make for relationships. It closed my heart down when I heard your cursing. It is so unfortunate that male culture is soooo negative. It hasn’t always been that way, you know.
As a woman, I choose which man and his energy I would receive, and I refuse to receive a man who talks like this. I refuse to receive negativity in my life.
As a man…I think there is the shock value that keeps us listening when we hear the T word (or any other expression of body parts or sex)
none the less, I prefer breasts – it sounds more respectful and a part of my wife’s body I really enjoy ….
The “T” word is shocking to hear – but keeps men listening because it perks us up
I understand why that would bother you
i would never use that word to describe my wife’s breast or anyone else’s
“T” sounds like we are negatively referencing one of the most beautiful part of a women’s body
Hey Christina, I feel like it’s a big part of my purpose to always point out as strongly as I can when people make strong, scarcity and fear based judgements of others. I am constantly battling men who say: “All women are _____” And then give a long list of pseudo-science and personal experience to back up their little fearful view of women and the world.
So when you say, “It is so unfortunate that male culture is soooo negative,” it is imperative that I point out that this is entirely your limited (and terribly self-limiting) perspective. There is no “male” culture to begin with. Men and women share a culture, and it is a culture in which genders misunderstanding each other is pervasive. If you believe men come from a negative place, you are likely to find men are negative around you.
As a prime example, tits is an absolutely lovely word to me. My use of a common word ought not so quickly offend you if my intention is loving and frankly admiring. It’s really, truly, just a word. When I think of the word “tit” I feel warm, fuzzy, and maybe even turned on. So if you feel it’s “gross” then the grossness of it is coming from YOU and your belief about the word. In other words, it’s only in your listening that word becomes gross.
As another example, you felt like I was saying the word in anger… but I was there, and very present to feeling my feelings, and I know that 100% of my emotional body was focused on love, compassion, and my urgent passion to help others experience the possibility of self acceptance and deep, authentic love.
Why would you observe that loving passion and misconstrue it as “really angry, hostile”?
Well, I don’t want to presume to know everything about you, but one big clue is that you think that “male culture is soooo negative”.
And what men in your life, who were filled with passion for some other reason, did you “refuse to receive” (a truly judgmental and potentially heart-harming stance) because of your unwillingness to accept their humanity and to stand with them in their honest expression of feeling?
And that brings me to the entire point of this video: That we ought not be so quick to judge, because until we can accept humans for being humans (flawed, and yes, sometimes angry), we will never, ever learn to truly love ourselves.
Christina, I love you right where you on your journey, and while I used you here as an object lesson for everyone, I hope I have not made you defensive. I want very badly for you to re-read your own words and watch the video again, and please get how deeply loving my message is for men, for women, for humanity, and for YOU. You have a great opportunity for truly expanding your capacity to love right here (and that doesn’t happen too often from reading a blog!)
What a beautiful gift you just shared with Christina above, Alex. And with all of us as well. Thank you very much; you’re truly a one of a kind mentor and man of purpose.
Aren’t different perspectives interesting? I read the blogs first and was expecting a lot of cursing and the use of “t..s” . What you felt as angry and hostile I felt was a presenter that absolutely believed in his message,
Wow, unbelievable Alex. Thank you!
Acceptance has always been tough for me. Acceptance of others, and probably more so of myself.
So being a single man, would I apply this to all ladies I meet out/am seeing? I tend to have the made up image of perfection in my head and I tell myself it’s because I fear “settling”. Is acceptance the synthesis between the two extremes of perfection and settling for less than you deserve?
Thanks again Alex!
Beautiful video Alex. I have always been a perfectionist in my life (to my detriment), but have met a man who accepts me for my humanity and is teaching me to accept him (and others) for theirs. It’s a wonderful experience and one you express exceptionally well. Thanks.
Thank you Alex. I am so impressed with what you have discovered for yourself. I struggle with that surrender currently. I know surrender is the answer and when I have the payoff is more than I could ever hoped for. The feeling of being so deeply connected to my woman in that space of surrender is what love is. Its funny, even though I have had that amazing experience I find myself taking control again and listening to the insane voice of fear and insecurity tricking me into a perception of reality that I do not actually desire. I end my relationship in my head several times a week but I do not act on it and recommit to surrendering to my partner. I keep working and do the best I can to remain focused in the moment and life is good and it warms my heart to be able to share this journey with men like you. I have given myself permission to make mistakes because not only is my partner imperfect but so am I. I noticed that you mentioned your Mentor. I would never be able to learn and grow as a man without the Men that have mentored me, and ironicly I had to surrender to that concept as well. To allow myself to be vulnerable with other men. Keep up the great work you have helped me so much since I have been reading your stuff
Yes man, one of the biggest breakthroughs of my life was confronting my inability to be vulnerable with other men, and finally get the mentoring that I needed to step powerfully into my life.
Alex, I love this presentation.. You deliver such a powerful message in such an elegant way. I am excited to watch your talk through “Falling and Staying in love” program I missed 2 days ago.
Thank you for all of your work
Alex, I love this video. Your message is powerful, and you deliver it in such an elegant way. Thank you for all of your work. I am excited to watch you in the “Falling and Staying in Love” program that I missed a couple of days ago.
Aaaannndddd…. He’s done it again 😉
Well done Alex. This hit me in the face like a truth that revealed itself to me on a different topic a long long time ago, at a Rave party while I was totally high on LSD: “All you have is what you are seeing, feeling and experiencing at this very moment. And it’s pretty much like that every second, for the rest of your life”. Except I no longer get high on LSD and this feels just as powerful.
See you soon ! 🙂
Alex, normally I find your videos so wise and uplifting, but this one just made me sad. I’m not sure you were really thinking of your female viewers when you uploaded it.
The point you make about embracing being human in all its messy, complex, imperfect glory is beautiful and moving and well delivered.
But why did you bring such a shallow and lowest common denominator tone to it so quickly?
“What happens is you’re like “she’s perfect, except I kind of wish her tits were a little bigger” […] and so you break up with her”
I get that it was meant for a roomful of men, that it was a sort of passing, jokey comment, and that it was an example of wrongheadedness.
But I’m finding it difficult to imagine a female sex and relationship mentor in a similar context saying: “What happens is you’re like “he’s perfect, except I kind of wish his cock was a bit bigger” […] and so you break up with him”
Even in a roomful of women, as a passing jokey comment or as an example of wrongheadedness. If she did say it as a joke, the women would probably laugh loudly – not in recognition but at the ridiculousness or the taboo nature of it.
I just don’t think a female relationship coach would say something like that. It wouldn’t feel appropriate. I’m not saying women are never crass or shallow. Generic cock jokes might abound at hen parties. But that’s different. In the context of a woman wanting an amazing and soulful relationship, bringing cock size into the equation would just seem so disrespectful to her partner or future partner, and to men in general.
Are men really so shallow and disrespectful about women behind closed doors? And in their heads?
I know it was said lightheartedly and that it probably felt very mild and innocuous – especially compared with other things men might say. But I’m wondering if bringing in this laddish tone was actually necessary in a roomful of the sort of emotionally mature men that come to your talks.
I’ve a feeling that emotionally mature men are already in a place where they’ve learned to see physical imperfection as perfection – where things like cellulite, stretch marks, wrinkles, are all part of the amazing package of loving a real woman not an airbrushed fantasy. And that when you really love someone, any thoughts about wishing that person was slightly physically different just feel wrong, sacrilegious even, and missing the point.
Forgiving a woman for not having a “perfect” body doesn’t seem like a noble thing to me. Shouldn’t that be baseline? Shouldn’t that be sort of obvious? She’s probably overlooking your physical imperfections, just as a matter of course.
I imagine that most of your audience already get that.
Forgiving someone for their personality defects, their deep character flaws, their limitations, their sometimes hurtful behaviour is different. It is a noble thing. And it’s very difficult. But worth it.
I know that’s the message of your talk. And it’s a great one.
I was just disappointing that you used a shallow physical female imperfection as one of only two examples of all round human imperfection.
Thanks Sarah, this is a HARD one for me… and you are certainly not alone in feeling the way you do.
I acknowledge that it was a low-brow example, and that it is hurtful to most women to imagine that a man (and particularly an “emotionally mature man”) might view a physical imperfection as an issue in his loving relationship with a woman.
And if I were the great designer of the Universe, then physical imperfections would certainly not rise to the level of “personality defects… deep character flaws… limitations… sometimes hurtful behavior,” as grounds for a break up!
It is also true that I would NOT have used cock size as an equivalent example with a female audience, as it would not make any sense to that audience.
Both men and women are madly frustrated by the simple fact that the things we value are frequently different (and often unforgivably difficult to understand) from what the opposite sex values.
And yet, I feel obligated to not shy away from difficult realities. If I want couples to really succeed at surrendered, madly joyful and abandoned LOVE, then I need to really equip them to deal with what’s really reality.
We humans are ultimately animals, and while we may grow and evolve far past our animal nature, we always INCLUDE that nature in our evolved state. It doesn’t go away.
And of course there are plenty of men for whom breast size is inconsequential compared to intelligence and kindness!
But it would be naive to imagine that some men, even emotionally mature men, don’t feel a powerful, and sometimes consuming pull to a particular physical characteristic that they find sexually attractive. And sex and sexual attraction are a big part of the difference between romantic relationships and friendships. It will show up for him, for real in his relationship.
In other words, yes, I believe that there are plenty of emotionally mature men who really STRUGGLE in accepting the “shallow physical female imperfections” as perfectly imperfect in their relationship. And many of them may have deep shame around that fact.
If I pretended otherwise, my emotionally mature male audience would dismiss me as an idealist who could not deliver on my promise on love that works in the real, wabi-sabi world of complex desire.
So that brings us to our opportunity:
Do we stand in judgement of that man’s truth, his imperfection, and deem him unworthy of love?
It may be frustrating as hell, but this is the way it is: Women are much more likely to consider “emotionally uncommunicative” a deal breaker, and men are much more likely to consider some physical characteristic a deal breaker. We can find many examples of the opposite – there are women that simply won’t date a man with crooked teeth or a tiny penis, and there are men for whom “looks don’t matter”, but they are exceptions. That’s an an actual, biologically wired difference in gender.
And that could easily be grounds for women to a stand in judgement of men.
And the struggle that I would passionately present to a female audience is finding a way to accept men for being men, to love them in spite of… or ultimately because of their male qualities.
Thanks for your reply Alex. It was illuminating, if not particularly heartening.
I do fully agree with a lot of what you say, but I’m curious about a few things.
We’re often told in women’s magazines and in relationship advice that most men aren’t nearly as hung up on our physical imperfections as we are. If that’s a delusion, I think it’s a helpful one for a woman’s confidence and peace of mind. I can see why bluntness around this issue might be good for men, but do you think that perhaps it’s more than just hurtful for women – that it might in fact be quite damaging?
Also, I’m imagining a scenario where a man has hang-ups about his girlfriend’s “physical imperfections”. Let’s say that he has just as many (if not more) “physical imperfections” of his own, but that they’re not a problem for either of them. Let’s also say that his girlfriend has worked hard to overcome her own hang-ups about her body in order to feel the levels of body confidence that make for good sex. So, his hang-ups about her body are coming from his ideals, not from her insecurity.
Your video answers the question of what he should do about it.
But I’m curious as to whether you feel he should involve her in the process. Should he actually consider (tactfully and lovingly) telling her about his difficulties in accepting her body? My gut feeling is – of course not! But I know that relationships can operate on all sorts of levels of honesty, and I’d be very interested to hear whether your opinion differs from my gut feeling,
You suggest that hang-ups like these are a character imperfection in him – one that she’s in a position to give him the gift of accepting. So if they did talk frankly and openly, I’m wondering: would you consider his acceptance of her physical imperfections to be equal to her acceptance of his difficulty in accepting her physical imperfections? A bit convoluted, I know, but in other words, do you think that in a scenario like this, her acceptance of him could be viewed as a sort of gender opposite equivalent to his acceptance of her?
For some reason this makes me think of the Ginger Rodgers quote about doing everything Fred Astaire did, but backwards and on heels.
My personal response to that last question would be that no, it’s not remotely equal (you may disagree?), but that life isn’t always fair, true love goes beyond tit for tat (pardon the pun), and that hopefully things will balance out in other areas of this hypothetical relationship.
There’s another question I’d like to ask. I’ve a feeling it’s a potentially tricky one, so I hope you don’t mind that I’m asking it. Do you consider yourself a feminist? I’m curious because I’m aware that a lot of men dislike the word or see feminism as something negative.
Thank you. I appreciate your time.
Thank you Sarah for your beautiful, thoughtful, and challenging reply! I love that you are taking this consideration deeper and appreciate the rigor that you are bringing to the conversation.
I’ll start at the end: YES, I absolutely consider myself a feminist. Though I also think that the word no longer means what it did when the feminist movement began and that it has been co-opted by the looney fringe on both sides – women hiding behind the term to make outrageous and man-hating statements, and men vilifying the term and making outrageous woman-hating statements.
Feminism = gender equivalence. Men and women are of absolute equal value, deserving of absolute equal rights, respect, responsibility, and opportunity.
That was the easy part.
Are women more hung up on their own physical imperfections than men?
This will be nearly 100% true for the simple reason that HUMANS are always more hung up on all of their own imperfections than anyone around them. (See, I’m a feminist) 😉
I first got this at a pretty young age. I was about 13 and I went into the bathroom to brush my teeth in the morning, and I noticed I had a huge pimple right in the middle of my face. I dreaded having to go to school where, surely, everyone would be staring and thinking I was an ugly freak. Just then my older sister came in and shouted, “Oh my god! That pimple is disgusting!” I nearly burst into tears because I was quite used to her mocking and teasing me… but then I realized the truth: She was looking at the (much smaller) pimple on her own face. She didn’t even notice mine.
I went to school feeling like I had cracked a secret code. The entire day I calmly and carefully observed the other kids and tried to discern, without paranoia, if anyone noticed my pimple, and what their attention was actually focused on. I watched kids obsessively fix their clothing, their hair, cover their mouths when they spoke if they had braces… and I was quite certain by the end of the day: Nobody even noticed the large, bright red spot in the center of my forehead.
And it is also true that a man might have a hang-up about some specific physical imperfection in his woman.
AND, to take it a level deeper, very frequently that hang-up is actually about what his friends and peers might think about it, and how it will reflect on his status. Shallow? Perhaps, but certainly human (if this is a rabbit hold you want to explore, this will take you all the way down: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jacques_Lacan). He might not even be aware of this truth, and needless to say, his friends and peers don’t notice at all.
This is true for women too. e.g., “How does it reflect on me that my husband is unemployed and I support him? What are people saying about me?”
As for whether it is better for women to understand the truth or live in a delusion about how hung up men are on physical appearance… I am not, by any means, the all-knowing voice of absolute truth. There’s plenty of room to intelligently disagree with me on this… but it has been my experience that painful truth is almost always worth the price.
Now, of course, if a woman takes the truth and neurotically obsesses over it and then exaggerates it in her mind, e.g., “ALL men consider ONLY physical appearance and I must be PERFECT in every physical attribute to win love and commitment,” then we are no longer dealing in truth, but only in neurosis.
Truth, on the other hand, even when painful, ultimately leads to growth, acceptance, and deeper intimacy and happiness, both with self and partner.
And finally, and perhaps most importantly, is there a difference in value or “wrongness” of judging someone on their appearance or judging someone for judging someone on their appearance?
I don’t know the answer to that question, but it’s my firm and passionate belief that indulging that conversation is DEATH to intimacy and relationship.
Who is WORSE here, the man or the woman? Who is more to BLAME here, the man or the woman? Who is at FAULT here, the man or the woman?
If True Love is what you seek, you must be willing to SURRENDER this conversation.
The Truth is that sometimes the man must do the work to accept the woman’s crazy-stuff. And sometimes the woman must do the work to accept the man’s crazy stuff. And ALWAYS, they both must be doing 100% of the work to take 100% of the responsibility to make the relationship work.
Will one of them end up doing the work more often? By the laws of probability, almost certainly one of the partners will be more emotionally equipped than the other. But if they notice this and keep score, then they are not playing “ALL IN”, the are not doing what I call “Perfectionization” in this video, and they are not Surrendering to the Truth of LOVE.
Acknowledging the perfection of your partner exactly the way they are is not a game of willful delusion. It is an acknowledgement of the Truth of what those imperfections bring to your experience of love and your your experience as a human in this lifetime. When you “get it”, it’s no longer a willful act, it’s the obvious, loving, and self-evident Truth.
Alex, thank you. These are very wise words.
I agree with what you say about not keeping score and totally agree that surrendering any conversation about who’s to blame is essential.
But actually I think you’ve reframed my question. I really wasn’t talking about blame or “wrongness”. You’ve added those words. I was asking whose gift of acceptance was greater in the hypothetical situation I’d described. I was thinking about the difference between expectation of acceptance and appreciation of acceptance. Maybe not the right question to be asking, but in any case, isn’t acceptance sort of the opposite of blame?
Blame makes me think of shame. The idea that the woman should shame the man wasn’t in my mind.
I asked a lot of questions – and I appreciate the time you’ve taken to answer them – but one question you didn’t actually answer was the question of whether you think the man in this situation should talk to the woman about his difficulty in accepting her physical imperfections.
My feeling is that he shouldn’t. That for HIM to ask HER to help HIM get over HIS hangups about HER body is asking a lot. Or expecting a lot.
I’m wondering if we may have a misunderstanding here. Maybe we’re on the same page and you agree with me that he shouldn’t burden her with this.
I was browsing the internet and found this article you wrote:
It’s a great article, but what you’re saying in it seems to be the opposite to what you say here and on the video, almost to the extent that it feels like it was written by a different person.
“I acknowledge that it was a low-brow example, and that it is hurtful to most women to imagine that a man (and particularly an “emotionally mature man”) might view a physical imperfection as an issue in his loving relationship with a woman.
And if I were the great designer of the Universe, then physical imperfections would certainly not rise to the level of “personality defects… deep character flaws… limitations… sometimes hurtful behavior,” as grounds for a break up!”
What you say here feels a bit like getting a behind-the-scenes view into what men might really be thinking. Definitely interesting. That men are generally very looks-oriented isn’t news. But the rest does feel very sad.
Hi Sarah, my perspective is that there is no value difference between assigning blame and assigning who is “more right”. It’s still the same dance.
As for whether or not a man ought to be direct and open about his struggle with getting past his woman’s physical imperfection, or even request her coaching and help in accepting this part of himself…
There is no simple answer to this question because every man and every woman, and every relationship as an entity, is very different.
However, in an ideal world, I think that open honesty is best because, in success, it takes things so much deeper. The greater challenge has the possibility of yielding a more complete Love.
The world is not ideal, and humans, as we keep saying, are certainly far from ideal, and her confidence, self-esteem, and happiness all must come into account. But this specific question will NEVER exist in a vacuum of other challenges. There is a deeper reason that he cannot redefine his taste and sensibilities to simply align with however she shows up in the world.
Please remember that you have asked specific questions about a specific hypothetical that I mentioned from the stage. It is in NO WAY a “behind-the-scenes view into what men might really be thinking.” After all, he might be thinking only of his own short-comings that he trying to hide from you, or he might be thinking only of his adoration for you and his own TERROR of those feelings… or just about anything else under the sun.
If you want to KNOW what he’s thinking, then you will have to find a way to ask him that will reassure him that there is no way that he will be judged for his answer. And that is a tall order and a WORTHY EFFORT for you.
As for the seeming discrepancy with something else that I wrote:
1) My ideas are evolving constantly. I don’t have THE Truth yet, but I am always doing my very best to cut closer and I share with you what I observe to be WORKING for happy couples and real humans.
2) Paradox is wired into the universe. It is true that we are infinitely small compared with stars and galaxies. It is also true that we are inconceivably grand and complex compared with molecules, atoms, and sub-atomic particles. Yes, it can give you a headache, but different circumstances call for different perspectives.
How profound that we have trouble accepting someone else’s humanity and of course that it’s because we have trouble accepting our own. As you noted in your comments above, people are generally far more focused on their own imperfections than anyone else’s and often hope that being in a relationship will magically take away the pain of our own felt sense of inadequacy. Your talk here is reminding me of two passages from Michael Singer’s The Untethered Soul:
“You are living on a planet spinning around in the middle of infinite space, and you’re either worrying about your blemishes, the scratch on your new car, or the fact that you burped in public. It’s not healthy. If your physical body were that sensitive, you would say you were sick. But our society considers psychological sensitivities normal. Because most of us [reading this message] don’t have to worry about food, clothing, or shelter, we have the luxury of worrying about a spot on our pants, or laughing too loud, or saying something wrong. Because we’ve developed this hypersensitive psyche, we constantly use our energies to close around it and protect ourselves. But this process only hides the problems; it doesn’t fix them. . . . You will get to a point in your growth where you understand that if you protect yourself, you will never be free.”
“External changes are not going to solve your problem because they don’t address the root of your problem. The root problem is that you don’t feel whole and complete within yourself. If you don’t identify the root properly, you will seek someone or something to cover it up. You will hide behind finances, people, fame, and adoration. If you try to find the perfect person to love and adore you, and you managed to succeed, then you’ve actually failed. You did not solve your problem. All you did was involve that person in your problem. That is why people have so much trouble with relationships. You began with a problem inside yourself (e.g. loneliness), and you tried to solve it by getting involved with somebody else. That relationship will have problems because your problems are what caused the relationship.” — Michael Singer