June 16, 2022

82. Male Vulnerability

In this episode of The Universal Man podcast, Grego and Pricey discuss male vulnerability and why it’s got such a negative connotation, but why it’s actually a doorway to a deeper kind of strength and how that can manifest in the modern world.

In this episode we talk about:

  • What is male vulnerability and why has it got a negative connotation?
  • The background to why men traditionally have struggled to talk about their feelings.
  • Why it is actually a symbol of strength and presents an opportunity for growth.
  • How to create a safe space for others to be vulnerable without fear of judgement.


“If I don’t deal with something, I will project it.”


What is vulnerability and does it have a brand issue?

I’m a bit tired of women that I know saying to me, “What is it about you men that you can’t talk about issues?” And I look at them and I think, “Hey, guys can. When guys need to, they can talk about what’s a really important thing.”

So the word has got a negative connotation. People hear that you are in a fragile space, you’re in a vulnerable space and they hear weakness and they hear that the person’s failed.

However, it is a doorway to a deeper kind of a strength. It’s a space when you can say, this is me, this is where I am in my real authentic space, but it’s an area in my life where I’m actually struggling. That’s different to weakness and failure. In reality, as I face the challenges, I actually find strength.

Why do men find vulnerability hard?

I think deep within the male psyche, there’s that ancient hunter-gatherer thing. The man’s strong, the man’s the one who saves things. The man in the middle of the storm is the one who’s going to row even harder. Those images give us this sense of the true man who doesn’t  cry or show emotion.

Men have clung to that image and the label and the narrative. But the fascinating thing is when they face the fear, when they engage with the weakness or whatever that difficult time is, men can find a doorway to an even deeper strength.

Too much we’ve looked to the male physical strength, and while that’s okay, our real strength lies in our ability to engage with that which actually scares us. And the other part of this strength thing, being a strong male, a lot of men interpret that as having to do it on their own. They think they’ll be alright, but they aren’t okay.

Or maybe they are okay, but there’s a limit, they’re not shooting the lights out. And then you get to a place where you float – things aren’t bad enough to have a chat to someone. But you’re like the mouse on the wheel; you’re just running through life, you’re pretty happy, nothing’s too bad, all’s right. But deep down maybe on the inside, maybe things are already eating away at you. So maybe also it’s about the times when there is nothing challenging you.

How do men break the stigma around vulnerability?

Remember, we grow when we are challenged, when we take a tiny bit of a risk. When in doubt, share your own story. I have never experienced a space where a man with another man has taken a risk and shared his story and hasn’t looked back and said, that was fantastic. So there are times when you need someone else to walk along and just listen to your story.

It takes us back to the very first camp we ran for Universal Man, and we had a whole bunch of guys share their story around a campfire one night, and it was a remarkable experience. Every man has a story and is dying to tell it.

You’re kidding yourself if you think you’re going to get through life without having the odd yarn to someone and tell them some of the challenges you’ve got. That’s lunacy.

What are the first steps to being vulnerable?

So many men get locked into fight or flight in a thousand forms. So there’s a fight in them, they’re fighting life, they’re fighting their relationships, their family or their own self. Or they’re into flight and they are running away from life or from their true actual selves.

When we have the courage to do our own inner work and face the challenges, that’s when we find a particular strength. There’s a beautiful old saying which goes, “If I don’t deal with something, I will project it.”

There’s a film that came out of New Zealand years ago, it’s called Once Were Warriors and is about a guy by the name of Jake, who is this young man full of anger and with an alcohol problem. At the very end of the film, his wife stands up to him and calls him into a new space. And she looks at him and says, “Our people once were warriors. They were people of mana, people of courage.” And at that moment, she’s calling him into a space of real, real strength.

So I suppose what we’re trying to say here, let’s get some fragility, let’s work with one another, let’s face that and find a real kind of strength.

How do you create the opportunity to be vulnerable?

I think there are two very simple things there and both based on timing. One is when you can’t plan for it. So you’ll be driving from a sporting event and all of a sudden your 14-year old child says, “I had a pretty hard week a week ago.” But when those moments come, you have to grab them.

The second is when it’s much more of a planned thing. So you need to get rid of this particular crap within your life. If you want to have a really difficult conversation, maybe you need to get a bit of conflict resolution. Maybe you need to write it out as you need to be clear what you’re going to say. And then time it for when you’re both in a better space.

And then, just be honest, say exactly how you are feeling. Feelings are neither right nor wrong. And when you share a personal story, good things always, always come.


Stay legendary,

Grego and Pricey