“My biggest struggle was DOING the right thing…” -Brian Bercht
I, too, struggled with knowing what the right thing to do was. But my greatest struggle was DOING the right thing. And coming in a close second was my challenge of NOT doing the wrong thing.
To my surprise, virtually everyone, both men and women, struggle to follow through on doing the right things and how to avoid the wrong things in affair recovery. So don’t despair! You’re not alone! And you can move beyond this.
The affair recovery journey is one that is made up of many counter-intuitive actions, actions that don’t make sense, actions that could appear to make things worse, actions that cause us to feel uncomfortable, and actions which may be contrary to the latest internet blog or latest twitter post. These counter-intuitive actions are not always recognizable for men, nor are they easy to do. However, the more a person practices these actions the more one begins to see the positive results. Rewards, progress, and forward movement soon appear in that person’s life and marriage.
A License to Act Inappropriately?
Struggling to follow through on doing the right thing is not just for men, nor is it exclusively for those who have acted unfaithfully. It is just as relevant for unfaithful women as it is for the men and women who have been betrayed. It is important to understand that everyone is solely responsible for his or her actions, and nothing that someone else has done to them gives them license to act inappropriately. Victor Frankl, author of “Man’s Search for Meaning” wrote “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances is to choose one’s own way.” Which basically lets us know that we can’t blame our bad actions on someone else’s behavior.
Four Common Factors
Our failure to do the correct thing can be rooted in a number of deeper issues, some of which may require long-term professional help, and if this may be you, then by all means get this help. However, for the majority of us, we find that there are a few common factors, which hinder us from doing the right thing. Lets take a look at 4 of these.
1 – Lack of Awareness and Understanding
The first factor, which hinders some of us men from doing the correct thing, and still leaves us doing the wrong things, has to do simply with our lack of awareness and understanding. Sometimes a man doesn’t know what he needs to do to in order to make things right or to help things get better in his relationship. Perhaps he hasn’t taken the time to figure it out or considered that there might be some other way of behaving. He can be stuck in a belief that he isn’t required to change anything about himself, that things will ‘just’ work itself out on its own, or that he doesn’t need to do any changing and if there are any changes to be made then they are with his spouse.
However, if you are reading this, then you are not likely to be one of these individuals (unless you are married to such a man). For those that may feel like they are in a relationship with a guy like this, keep reading as some of the other factors may play a bigger role in his life than you might have guessed.
Feeling The Shame
On a side note, it is important to understand that for many men who gain some new knowledge or awareness on how to behave differently, they often can feel more shameful once they have understood how inadequately they acted. These ‘new’ awakenings may trigger a man to shut down and self-loathe and quit trying. Depression could set in.
2 – Levels of Doubt
A second factor that can hinder a man from following through on doing the right thing, while often repeating actions he knows aren’t right, will be his own levels of doubt. Not just doubt that the action works, but also doubt that he has what it takes to do it. Skepticism. Second-guessing. Yes-butting. And other forms of reluctance get in the way of a man engaging in practicing these new skills.
There can also be a sense of pride, not needing anything or anyone to tell them what to do. Our male pride and conditioning tells us that we don’t really need outside help to solve our problems. Frankly, asking or seeking out direction from others can reinforce a sense of weakness and even failure, which then keeps us stuck in the behaviors we know we need to adjust.
Being Reluctant to Engage
In addition, even if a man has learned to seek out help or to ask for advice, he may be reluctant to engage in the actions that are laid out for him. He may tend to second-guess the counsel he hears, doubt that the advice will really work, and/or be suspicious if what he hears will genuinely result in him being able to do what he knows to do. He may even have tried a few things to correct some of his actions, yet he still finds himself slipping back into old and bad habits. The suggestions or advice may not have had the lasting results he was hoping to obtain.
3 – Facing Opposition
A third factor is that a man who wants to do the right thing will often face opposition, in one form or another from the person he’s trying to change for. Some men hear what they may need to do and may have even seen it work for others and even try to do what’s right, but as soon as he faces some opposition or a person doesn’t react like he expects, he just throws in the towel and quits trying. He is like the seed that is scattered on shallow soil, which takes root quickly and sprouts up, but when the winds and heat of adversity arrive, the plant suddenly withers and dies. The shallowness of the soil prevents the plant from flourishing. As with the plant, so it is with some of us men. We lack the depth of strength to continue on in spite of the heat we face. So we give up and quit trying.
4 – Isolation, Independence, and Self-Reliance
The fourth factor is unquestionably the most common theme that plays out in the lives of each man who struggles with consistently following through on doing the right thing. It is a man’s propensity towards Isolation, Independence and Self-Reliance, which leads us to deny the loneliness most men feel today. We don’t have anyone who will encourage, challenge or correct us.
Lonely and Isolated
Men today are lonely and isolated and, to a large degree, friendless. Yes, many of us have hundreds of ‘friends’ on Facebook, or may have thousands of Twitter followers, or may even have a fairly active social life, but if the truth were told, most don’t have anyone that they can be truly genuine with. Men today have abandoned connection for convenience, choosing to forgo any close relationship with another guy, and instead replace it with fantasy football (or similar).
In the hundreds of men I’ve spoken with over the years, when asked how many close male friends they have, nearly all say none! Yes, there are some that do have some good friends in their life, but the vast majority do not have one single man they can really be honest with! If I were to ask their wives how many close male friends their spouse has, the reply is generally zero.
Conditioned to Believe – We don’t need help
As men, we are conditioned to believe that we don’t need anyone close, we don’t need any help, we are the captains of our own ship, we are in charge of our life, and we don’t need to have another man close to us. Some have replaced close male friendships with close female relationships, which in the end, usually causes hardships, disappointments and failures.
Sadly, it is even worse for the for the man who has acted unfaithfully, because the sense of shame, humiliation and/or embarrassment is so great that he can’t find anyone that may accept him. For the man who has been betrayed, they also don’t feel like anyone understands them or knows their pain.
Seeking Genuine Relationships
The solution to the problem of not doing what we want to do is found in having some genuine relationships with other good men so that we can be encouraged, challenged and corrected from within a safe context of acceptance and understanding. An intelligent man is one that understands his success is dependent upon the association he keeps. So finding good men and connecting with them will be one of the most important factors to consistently follow through on doing the right thing.
Your Past does not need to be Your Future
Finding these good men will also help us with the sense of loneliness that most men face today. We all need someone to lean on, and the sooner we have the courage to admit this, the sooner we begin to find a cure for our shame, isolation, needing to keep up appearances, and our loneliness. We all need someone to tell us that we are good enough! Your past does not need to be your future!
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For more information on how to recover from affairs, click here.