black-man-painblack-man-painblack-man-painA realization:  My self-improvement quest has made me less understanding of basic human nature. I understand human nature, but I see it as something to be conquered, not accepted (Buddha would be displeased, if he were capable of displeasure). This complicates matters of the heart when dealing with men, especially since my understanding of men is so limited in the first place.

I didn’t notice this at first. I find myself less annoyed by the actions and choices of others, and it’s been a while since something someone else did or said had a negative effect on me. I attribute this to one of the principles in the book “The Four Agreements” which is “Never Take Anything Personally,” as well as the work of Albert Ellis (Rational Thinking). I know now that no matter what people do, it’s their choice. I can not cause or be the cause of anyone’s actions, and the way that events seems to me is due to my interpretation of them, and not some objective reality.  However, since I am not as affected by people’s choices, my understanding and forgiving muscles may be out of shape.

The detachment I have achieved doesn’t work in all situations, however. Due to my hyper self-awareness, I have a really hard time understanding when people attribute their actions to unconscious things, such as their past, or hormones. Because of this,  my ability to sympathize with men, and the questionable decisions that some men make has been severely impaired. Male supremacy is based on the idea that men are more reasonable and thinking than women. How then, does this thinking get reconciled with statements such as “Boys will be boys” and “He’s a man. What do you expect?”

My all-female upbringing, lack of male friends, relationships with men who are really in touch with their feminine sides, and being in a field that is overwhelmingly female have prevented me from internalizing one fact: Men and Women are Different. I’ve heard it, I know it, but I didn’t really get it until recently.

After a tense discussion with a friend, I stumbled upon an episode of the radio show “This American Life” called “Testosterone.”, which originally aired in 2002. It was about the hormone and how it effects people, not just men. The story that struck me the most was about Griffin Hansbury, a transgendered man who describe his process of becoming a man, which included taking testosterone. He talks about understanding for the first time why men were prone to certain actions. Griffin said that while taking the hormone, he couldn’t look at an attractive woman without having overpowering, pornographic thoughts about her. Once a self-described post-feminist, he was now accused of being a misogynist by female friends,  and had to work to learn how to talk to woman (he also said that he suddenly became interested in science after taking testosterone).

The point is, when working to improve yourself, it’s important to remember that acceptance should be the ultimate goal when dealing with others. Acceptance means that you acknowledge that everyone has value and purpose, even if their actions are hurtful or contradict your values.

So, to the men in my life, no matter how sensitive or brash, you aren’t women, and I wouldn’t want you to be. It’s starting to sink in now.