Harden up Wuss, What are You Made of! Real Men & Putting on the Tough Act

by Josh Campbell (20), university student, New Zealand


All I can remember from my childhood years – when I think back to them – is forever getting a strong message that if I am to grow up to be a real man

  • I must be tough.
  • I must be hard.
  • I must be rough.

But the most hurtful and deeply felt ones of all were that

  • I was not allowed to be ‘soft’.
  • I was not allowed to be ‘cherishing’, ‘nurturing’, ‘feminine’ in any way.
  • That feeling things was not OK because men, that is real men, don’t have ‘feelings’.

What I was sensing from others (particularly from other men) as I was growing up, was that feelings are for ‘wusses’. They are for soft people who can’t live in this world and that real strength comes from what you can do physically, never from what you can feel. This type of strength may come through being physically mighty and being able to lift and push the body, or it may come from lots of hard work through your academic life to be super smart and bright at what you can do. Whatever way it comes, it is still the same message: ‘You are a Machine… you do not have feelings’.

This meant that things like being able to cry, or showing hurt or any ‘soft’ emotion was totally overruled by this immediate reflection of being a ‘wuss’ or a ‘pussy’.

Real men don’t cry – They don’t shed tears when life gets tough or things are too hard. Real men are asked to push hard. To push on and force themselves to the next level regardless of the feelings that they may have. They are asked to totally ignore their own bodies because real men can ‘handle the pain’.


I remember being at school one day when it was wet. We were having a whole school assembly that day which they had scheduled to be outside because they had thought it was not going to rain that day. It was OK at first when we were outside because the rain hadn’t started at that stage. However, I do remember it was cold.

Well, it began to rain and we were asked to sit through it because we were not sugar cubes and we “could handle a bit of pain”. The rain was only light so it was not too bad, but when I was sitting there in the cold in my summer uniform, it was painful. Not painful because ‘I couldn’t handle it’. No, I could handle it. I lived through the experience and survived! But at what expense?

It was painful because I knew in every cell in my body that what I was being asked to do was not loving for me. It was not honouring of me because every feeling in my body was telling me this was not right and I was being asked to override it because otherwise I would have been a ‘wuss’ or in this case, a ‘sugar cube’, if I hadn’t.

I could feel that other people were also feeling the same thing: that this was not honouring of the truth that they were feeling inside them. I could feel that others were overriding their feelings. Some were even so good at it that they did not appear fazed at all by the rain and cold conditions. I felt alone. I felt that my voice was only speaking for me and not for everyone and that I would have been seen as a sook for not handling the conditions if I said anything to anyone. This was because I felt small and isolated as everyone else was choosing against honouring or even acknowledging what they were feeling inside them. If I had said anything about how I was feeling to anyone I would have been the ‘wuss’ of the school. Speaking up about how they are feeling is not something a real man would do, is it?


We get this reflection every day from both men and from women. I know a lot of people [‘real’ men and women] who I meet on the streets, in the shops, at the university – they are hardened by life, unfortunately. Most are studying farming at the university but it does not really matter what they are studying, they have all had to go through a process of hardening to not be labelled the wuss in life.

But what does this mean, to be the wuss in life? We are not at school any more so we are not going to be labelled as the ‘sugar cube’ in front of our peers, or as the ‘wuss of the school’. So why keep the hardening going? Why continue to be the machine with no feelings instead of honouring our feelings?

What if the hardening and bullishness we felt at school has never actually stopped since we left school and we have instead adapted to a way of life that is constantly avoiding being labelled “the wuss in life”? Maybe we have got so used to it that this seems to most to be the norm in life. I know from experience that in many workplaces the so called ‘office politics’ and the ‘office silliness’ that goes on is actually like what I felt at school. The true fun and play-full-ness that many of us have had with our peers as youngsters before it was seen as ‘wussy’ behaviour is not experienced, much less lived, every day in these office environments.

We get ingrained with this mentality from young. Both men and women feel the same pressures at school. After all, in my case, there were both girls and boys at this assembly so it was not just a masculine thing… women too were being asked to override their feelings. They would have also been labelled as ‘sugar cubes’ or ‘wusses’ if they had stood up for what they were feeling.

Women and men feel this pressure in different ways, but it is still asking them to do the same thing… to override their feelings. Men feel this pressure often more directly. We are asked to be ‘strong’ in life by ignoring what we know in our hearts to be true.

Men are seen as childish and labelled as irresponsible and as ‘boys’ if they don’t harden up and grow up in life. What if being ‘real men’ is not really growing up at all but is really a process of honouring and deepening your connection with your feelings? To not be hard. To not be tough. But rather to be the gentleness and tenderness as a man that as a child he always knew he could be?

What if being a real man is not wussy at all…

What if being a real man was actually really empowering because the real strength of a man was never found in what he could lift or pull physically in life, but rather from the love that comes from within him by knowing who he is, from what he feels inside him?

Inspired by the work of Universal Medicine and Serge Benhayon

445 thoughts on “Harden up Wuss, What are You Made of! Real Men & Putting on the Tough Act

  1. Josh, there is so much truth here. It makes me reflect on my own upbringing as a woman, that I took on that stance of hardness too. It was that or be annihilated by the systems of education. And yet I could feel I was going against the grain of it all.

    Being inspired by Serge Benhayon and Universal Medicine simply presents that there is another way to live, and we can say yes to it, and take the lead in making some changes, then we can let go of this hardness. It’s not an over night thing either. A working progress that I must admit is absolutely worth it. Not just because of how I feel within myself but, also how I can be that reflection to others too.

    1. I agree Henrietta, it is a strength, some people soon realise that it is ok to be vulnerable. I’ve seen others grapple when I reflect this, the rest is unto them as to what they do with it.

  2. In our current world we are asked to be what we are not. Our nature is to be gentle and caring and this does not seem to fit into the current societal protocol. But if this mold is not broken by us then who will do it and how long do we wait?

  3. “Women and men feel this pressure in different ways, but it is still asking them to do the same thing… to override their feelings”
    Yes and unfortuantly we live in a society that has asked us over eon’s to not be ourselves and in some cases it has imposed this brutally on us.

    1. We are all asked to toughen up and to not be our true selves, to not show our sensitivity, delicateness, and tenderness, and so we become hard and protected, and add to the defensiveness of humanity.

  4. Our relationship within is so power–full and being prepared with whatever it takes with the absoluteness of being Soul-full will strengthen the love that comes from within, allowing a prepared-ness to dress in a way that understands our vulnerability and tenderness, as such wisdom provides whatever is needed so we do not have to endure the cold rain. These days being loving with a jumper and hat always at the ready is my simple approach to life.

  5. Thanks Josh, it’s s very relevant topic. It’s as if the current model of life has been set up to not be challenged, because cutting people off from the sensitivity means they won’t be open to sensing what’s wrong and what needs to change.

  6. “Knowing who he is, from what he feels inside him” – as simple as that. It’s like we go into this crazy tandem of ignoring/denying our feelings therefore not knowing who we are, while trying to fit into the societal definition of who it says we should be, wanting to develop something we can identify as self. It would be so simple if we can just stop and cut all the crap.

  7. I knew a friend who had 2 boys I knew these boys from birth, the eldest had a rotten time growing up. His father put so much pressure on him as a child as he was the eldest and as such a lot was expected of him so he had to toughen up. From young he was not allowed to cry he had to do everything by the book of how to be a grown man with responsibilities. It was so clear to see that the little boy’s father was passing down to his son what had been passed down to him from his father and this has probably happened for generations as the behaviour was ingrained. So my questions is when are we going to break this cycle and raise our children in a way that they know they are loved and understood for being who they are and not what is expected of them.

  8. The moment we do not honour the truth that lives within us, we hand ourselves over to all that opposes such truth. In this way we have created an external world that is at odds to the inner world and so created a divide deep within us.

    1. Liane, thank you – it is indeed that simple and yet it can be hard to speak up or act when we have spent eons being quiet. And so this is such a powerful way to break the mold and make a change.

  9. “Women and men feel this pressure in different ways, but it is still asking them to do the same thing… to override their feelings.” My boarding school experience many years ago confirmed this – and I lived with it for many years, burying what I truly felt. Learning to express feelings is so important and I love the fact that my grandchildren can do this so freely.

  10. The consequences of men toughening up is that we now have a large amount of men who suicide. This surely is telling us that the way we are parenting boys is incorrect.

    1. Great point Elizabeth, soldiering on and becoming a tough guy has a lot to answer when it comes to depleting us from our essences and thus opening us up to ill energies and suicide.

    2. Suicide is a way of calling out for help and saying enough is enough. But when will we actually stop to listen and truly change the way we live and relate with each other?

  11. I was amazed the other day that a man I knew who seemed to be a ‘tough nut’ shared with me that one of his dogs had died and he and his family are devastated. I have known this man for at least 30 years and for him to be so open and raw and to share his feelings with me was to me very special. Men are absolute softies at heart and it is a crying shame that we as a society expect them to be hard and unfeeling. When actually most of the women I know are dying to meet a man that is caring and sensitive, warm and loving. So where are we going wrong?

  12. Clearly the message given to men to harden up has backfired on us as can be seen with the rate of suicide in men. We need to give men permission to show and to honour their tenderness and sensitivity.

    1. We can also see it in the rates of violence, domestic violence, addictions and other self harming behaviours.

  13. I often find that the men who I know, who are brave and strong, are the ones who are willing to show how much they care.

  14. It always could irritate me when my partner or any men around were behaving soft. I liked them macho.
    In truth both behaviours don’t carry love within them. Both are acts to fulfill a certain need. A man in his true power is just himself like the Benhayon Family is reflecting.

  15. I work with a lot of men and it is a joy everyday to witness their tenderness and sensitivity when they allow themselves to show it.

  16. This is such a huge lie
    “that is real men, don’t have ‘feelings’.”
    We have imposed on both men and women to fit a stereo type, to fit the pictures we have fabricated and for both sexes it has left them devoid of who they truly are.

  17. Hardening is not men’s exclusive patrimony. Ignoring the body is not either. By and large, humanity lives in protection. This reveals how much we live in mistrust of others. And how much our mistrust only provides incentives for others to not open up. To this state of things, we have to add, how the hurts we carry turn ourselves as not trustworthy either. Fear helps to delineate the being and as a result, we consider ourselves only as human.

  18. I remember the same, the toughest men in my environment were celebrated. The trouble was that I didn’t have the body to be as tough and careless of as those men so that never quite worked for me.

  19. In a world that champions denseness in all its forms, it is far easier to ‘play hard’ and ‘harden up’ then it is to let your innate tenderness be seen and felt by others. We see here the makings of a true man are not found in the degree to which he has built his armour but more so in the degree he has been able to let it go.

    1. Yes, showing your feelings and sensitivity is considered a weakness in society today, especially so with men. Allowing oneself to show your vulnerability is the true act of strength.

  20. If feeling and sensing is an innate part of being human, then why are we raising our men to shut this part of themselves down? Or to dismiss it? I can see how this has many ways of playing itself out and of having an affect on society in general – an affect that not all, and perhaps most of us want, and yet we still continue to live with it. Thanks to articles like this one however, there is the tide of change coming our way. With young men like this taking the brave step to speak out and to live as a sensitively beautiful, strong and masculine man.

  21. I love the fact that we now have the term ‘toxic masculinity’ for it is a very first step back into the direction of the true essence of the man. Who we are as we are born is who we are in essence, everything that get’s changed through our lives is an adaptation away from this essence. So if you recognise the tenderness, sensitivity and delicateness in a small boy, know that this is his essence and will remain to be his essence no matter how much older he will get.

    1. The words are powerful as it openly displays that what we have championed for so long has far from supported rather poisoned the natural way men express.

  22. Before we can truly accept the sensitivity in a man or a women we must first accept it in ourselves. If we have hardened ourselves to life as a way of protection though this is false and keeps us disconnected to all we can access when we sense all that is going on… a quality worth allowing.

  23. I know someone who has seen untold misery and atrocities during a time of war with both sides inflicting so much damage to each other. And there is this tough barrier that they have put up against all the hurt that humanity has inflicted on each other and the land. But underneath the armour plating there is an absolute teddy bear of a man so soft and extremely sensitive and the armour plating is there to protect the sensitivity but he also loves it when this is recognised and honoured.

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