Getting Tough With Yourself

by A Manly Guest Contributor on July 20, 2012 · 112 comments

in A Man's Life

Editor’s note: This is guest post from Marcus Brotherton. It originally ran on Men Who Lead Well (

One harmful mindset that can keep a man from fulfilling his calling and potential is self-coddling. This is when he convinces himself he deserves a break, and runs to something that ultimately harms himself.

The WWII Marines of K/3/5 had been fighting on Guadalcanal for weeks. C-rations had run out, and the men ate twice daily portions of coconuts and wormy rice they’d confiscated from the Japanese.

Sid Phillips, left, with W.O. Brown

PFC Sid Phillips (featured in HBO’s The Pacific) grew increasingly concerned for his hometown friend, W.O. Brown, racked with severe dysentery. Everything W.O. tried to eat ran straight through him. There was no medicine. No cots to lie on. The sick were simply stretched out on the ground. W.O. grew so emaciated he was too weak even to sit up. Flies covered him as he lay in his own diarrhea.

“It was bad,” Phillips reported in an interview with me. “I didn’t think W.O. was going to survive.”

Each day, Phillips carried W.O. to the ocean and helped him get clean. I asked Phillips if he remembered any specific conversations he had with W.O. during these times of carrying him. Here, I was expecting a poignant story. I pictured this young battle-hardened Marine carrying his nearly-dead buddy to the water. “Keep holding on,” Phillips would whisper. “Have courage. Just think of mom and apple pie.” Something like that.

But Phillips just chuckled. “Oh yeah, I remember. I told W.O. to stop being such a faker and take a salt tablet.”

The response threw me. I asked Phillips (who eventually became a medical doctor) what his strategy was.

“Well, it didn’t help a man to overly commiserate with him,” Phillips said. “If you did, it just depressed him. But if you kidded him, it made him smile. The ribbing was all good natured. He’d fire back some wisecrack at you, and soon he’d get to fighting again.”

How does this apply to manhood today?

Phillips respected W.O. Brown as someone who had the capacity to get up and go on. So let’s believe the same about ourselves.

Anytime a man is in a downed place—i.e. he’s annoyed, angry, tired, hurt, lonely, stressed, or frustrated—he is tempted to become overly sympathetic with himself. He gets that insidious, creepy, pampering mindset that tells him he deserves a break—just this once.

I’m not talking about kicking back on the couch with a bag of Doritos. Not that kind of a break.

I’m talking about blowing it: the lie that it’s okay to run to a favorite vice. We’ve all got them. We run to whatever ultimately harms us, because we’ve convinced ourselves it helps. It’s the worst form of coddling.

What’s the solution?

Get tough with yourself. Knock it off, ya faker. Take a salt tablet, and get back to the battle. Sure, frustrations exist. But you don’t need that bottle. You don’t need that porn. You don’t need to give in to that moment of rage on the freeway. You’ve only convinced yourself you do.

By the way, the strategy works. W.O. Brown survived the dysentery—and the war.

All Photos Courtesy of Valor Studios


Editor’s note: If you want to learn more about Sid Phillips I highly recommend watching this profile that was done of him for HBO’s The Pacific. A really great watch:

{ 112 comments… read them below or add one }

1 william July 20, 2012 at 4:10 pm


2 Dan F. July 20, 2012 at 4:14 pm

This is where I am right now. I was somewhat surprised that there was no long, in-depth psychological piece on how to get back in the saddle… but on reflection, there doesn’t need to be. Each situation is different in the details, but ultimately needs the same treatment: quit screwing around, keep moving and you’ll figure out the details as you need them.

3 Mark Ruddick July 20, 2012 at 4:27 pm

“Waste no more time arguing what a good man should be. Be one.” -Marcus Aurelius

4 JP July 20, 2012 at 4:29 pm

Confused as to how specifically porn hurts you, but I did like this piece.

5 andrew July 20, 2012 at 4:39 pm

i needed this. thanks.

6 S July 20, 2012 at 4:46 pm

@JP: Because sex, in all forms (including watching porn), can also be an addiction.

7 N July 20, 2012 at 4:52 pm

“Confused as to how specifically porn hurts you”

My brother-in-law fell into the habit of watching porn for several hours every day. His boss caught him watching it at work and he got fired. His girlfriend of three years got sick of it and left him. Now he’s job-less and alone. You bet porn hurt him. I personally think a little porn and healthy and fine, I like it myself. But yeah, it sure does turn int a vice for some. Like food I guess. Some just eat it, some men turn into 400 pound blobs.

8 frgough July 20, 2012 at 4:58 pm

“Confused as to how specifically porn hurts you”

You mean other than the fact it objectifies women and feeds your base, animal nature?

9 Stephen July 20, 2012 at 5:08 pm

It seems against the spirit of this article to blame being fired for watching porn at work on the porn.

10 MattStefanik July 20, 2012 at 5:10 pm

Love this blog. @Dan F – Right on. The brevity of this piece in particular is how all posts for men should be because that’s how we are, for the most part. If this was written by a woman, on the other hand…

11 Bert July 20, 2012 at 5:12 pm

I don’t know, I was never a Marine, and I was not alive at the time of Guadalcanal, and I wonder about some of the ‘manliness’ stuff out there, from a stereotype/cliche standpoint, and also from a point of relevance in the modern age, when men(yes, even Real Men) might be called upon to utilize/develop some of the old ‘soft skills’, like, reasoning, observation, listening, conversation, all that girly-wussy stuff that they teach in some of the furry sweater books. Why? World has changed, and some problems cannot be solved(sadly) just by running them through with a bayonet and setting fire to the place and emplacing your charges or whatever, there. In the modern age, many problems are ‘word problems’, things you have to sit n think about, try to reason them out, and solve them like a peaceable, civilized person, increasingly a challenge in our modern age where so many people are impatient, violently inclined, and frankly, childish. What’s it take to be a Real Man? Recognizing that you’re an adult, and that there’s more ways to deal with things besides balled-up fists, airstrikes, domestic violence, and other more traditional ‘manly’ methods. Self-coddling? You should be good to yourself. Some guys have some kind of leftover social programming that to Be A Man, Is To Know Great Suffering. Well, I say get off the cross, treat yourself right, go get some jacuzzi time, and when you get home, bust out the bunny feet and a cold beer and relax. If you’ve put in a week’s work as many people men and women both in our modern age are wont to do, then you might wont to try the fine art of doing nothing and kicking your feet up and giving mind, body, and spirit a much-needed break. Now, what’s the difference between a break, and a lifestyle? At the end of a break, you put your work duds back on, and go back out into the larger world, and make good account for yourself. But, there’s no law saying you can’t ‘chill’ in between, matter of fact, it might just save your life. So, take the eagle claws out of your chest flesh, there, go back to the tattoo parlor and get directions to the tattoo removal clinic, and work on some self-development in the area of being a civilized, modern man, one that’s learned how to cope in an ever-changing world using more than one approach.

12 N July 20, 2012 at 5:17 pm

Who’s blaming the porn, bud? Somebody asked how porn could hurt you and told the story of my brother-in-law who got fired for watching it. It turned into a vice for him. But it was his choice, Just like food. You can eat a Twinkie every week and be fine or a Twinkie every day and be a fattie. Not the Twinkie’s fault, your fault.

13 Tone July 20, 2012 at 5:19 pm

If this article was written by an Australian, it would be just four words: “Harden the f**k up”. Which is basically what this article says, only with a great anecdote about a dude that did just that under great adversity.

A good read as always, AoM.

14 Stephen July 20, 2012 at 5:27 pm

Do you not think the phrasing of “it turned into a vice for him” to be putting the focus on it rather than him? We’re saying it was the porn because it turned into a vice.

In reality, the porn or Twinkies or drink or anything else didn’t change in any way, it didn’t turn evil and try to hurt him — he over-consumed it.

15 dc July 20, 2012 at 5:32 pm

Do people really have THAT much of a problem with porn?

16 Troy July 20, 2012 at 5:37 pm

Nicely put Bert. The original piece was useful too. My take on it, know thyself, then act.

Endless self analysis = Inception, stuck in a dream. Action without self awareness = Groundhog Day all over again.

17 N July 20, 2012 at 5:39 pm

Think you’re way over-analyzing bro. I made my meaning pretty clear. Get tough with yourself and find something better to do. I know I’m about to. Peace.

18 Stephen July 20, 2012 at 5:45 pm

Oh. And that was the end of that.

19 Kevin July 20, 2012 at 5:57 pm

Porn absolutely hurts you. It confuses true manliness with fake strength, ability and satisfaction. It’s for guys who don’t get any. I honestly can’t think of something less masculine.

Losers look at porn.

Winners go home and f*** the prom queen.

Great post.

20 Taylor July 20, 2012 at 6:01 pm

Re: Bert
I think you’re being a little short sighted in saying that things used to be about running the enemy through with bayonets and now we have to deal with problems with thinking. Its an arrogant comment to say the least, not to mentional completely untrue. I think the greatest difference today is that we have, as a culture, become cowards. Everything has to be sugar coated or written up in some anonymous report. That aside this article is not about how you deal with the people around you, but how you deal with yourself. Are you going to fight your inner demons with all you have or are you going to give in to them because it is easier?

21 Zack July 20, 2012 at 6:07 pm

Great article but I think it also kind of insinuates in a way that addictions are just about willpower. It’s much more than that for some people; there is a physiological aspect that isn’t always just about sucking it up.

22 work harder July 20, 2012 at 6:31 pm

Show me a mass murder who wasnt hooked on porn? It will kill your family gents, walk away.

23 mike July 20, 2012 at 7:29 pm


Addictions are usually about willpower. You can’t become an addict without trying something first.

It takes willpower to not take that first drink (or whatever). Most people have the ability to know their personality and family history – your dad is an alcoholic; don’t drink. Your mom is a crackhead; don’t do crack. You’re sister is a pornstar; introduce her to me.

24 John July 20, 2012 at 8:30 pm


You’ve missed the point altogether. The article isnt about relaxing at the end of a long day but rather about not letting your vices and weaknesses overtake you when things aren’t going your way.

And porn absolutely is harmful. First to your brain because it overstimulates and triggers the same pleasure centers that strong drugs do…leading to the need for increased usage. Secondly it’s harmful to those poor creatures debasing themselves doing the “performing” and your watching only increases the demand and money to pay them to keep doing it. Do you seriously think that those women really dreamed of being a trampoline for men after men after men while other men watch and record it all?

Anyway, there’s my 2 cents.

25 Jeremiah July 20, 2012 at 8:35 pm



26 Jeremiah July 20, 2012 at 8:51 pm


You missed the point, and when it was pointed out clearly, you insisted on continuing to drive home that missed point. No one took responsibility off the person and put it on the porn. The article said that whatever it is that you run to — the bottle, the porn, the road-rage driving — choose not to do it. Then one commenter raised the question of why porn was on that list (i.e., how porn could be harmful). The comments that followed showed clearly how one can be damaged by allowing himself to run to porn the same way someone else may run to something else. That does not blame the porn. That echoes the point of the article, but clarifies why porn would be on the same list as “the bottle” (or Twinkies, as someone said).

27 Fred July 20, 2012 at 10:12 pm

Harden the F up diminishes him as a weak man, stop faking assumes and acknowledges the strength is within them already

28 Paul July 21, 2012 at 1:24 am

Your comment “Addictions are usually about willpower. You can’t become an addict without trying something first. It takes willpower to not take that first drink (or whatever). ” Is a rather simplistic view of addiction or alcoholism. Usually someone that has an alcoholic/addict parent or parents does not think that will happen to them. Additionally genes are not always an indicator of someone becoming an addict or alcoholicThere are many alcoholics/addicts whose parents do not have problems with drugs or alcohol. If someone is an alcoholic or addict it has nothing to do with willpower.

29 Josh July 21, 2012 at 2:28 am

Is porn wrong?

Jesus said “Whoever looks at a woman to lust after her has committed adultery with her in his heart.”

In the current antigod, anti morality, do as I please society this kind of thinking will be laughed away. Porn is wrong, marriage is right…enough said. What creates stability in a marriage…a porn habit? No, loving your wife with all your heart that’s what.

30 robin July 21, 2012 at 3:11 am

About porn, you guys should check out No this is not spam. Just read the stuff.

31 Sam July 21, 2012 at 5:47 am

I’d like to ask if I can repost this in our market-wide newsletter. This is a great read for some of the grumbly employees I have, and their wonderful self-destructive habits.

32 AC July 21, 2012 at 7:39 am

So resilience equals wife beating? That’s some nice straw man you got there, Bert!

33 Steve July 21, 2012 at 8:15 am

@Fred: Good insight, I like it.

@Paul: Yeah, addiction isn’t all about willpower. But to say it has nothing to do with willpower is just wrong. How do you think people who get over their addiction do it? Certainly not without willpower.

34 Duncan July 21, 2012 at 8:32 am

Tough old boys in them days!

35 Stephen July 21, 2012 at 9:43 am

Jeremiah, I’m sorry you feel that way about me. All I can say is that we must be reading different comments.

36 Matt July 21, 2012 at 9:45 am

Maybe porn is just a thing, for some of you guys. But for other men, that’s just not how it works. To us, it quickly becomes toxic and addictive. We are wired in such a way that we can’t just have a bit in our lives; it’s either all or nothing.
Have you ever seen a squid hook? For us, porn is like swallowing one of those.

37 MichaelP71 July 21, 2012 at 10:06 am

From my own experience I tend to make excuses as to why it really isn’t falling off the wagon with regards to my particular vice. Stop rationalizing it…ya dam fool and realize this is the enemy trying to infiltrate you. Knowing the enemy and how he operates is a hard learned lesson too.

38 Michael Dean (@MichaelDean10) July 21, 2012 at 10:10 am

While on the topic of porn, I recently read a book on the subject and was blown away by the authenticity of the author and his honesty in his addiction to porn. While a married man and working for a church during the day he was hiring sex and watching copious amounts of porn. Ive never heard a man be so honest about his addiction and how he tried and tried, i.e. burning magazines, and wiping his hard drive numerous times. Each time he would muster the energy and strength the stop, he would fall even harder the next time. It is like a never ending cycle. Here is a chapter from the book. Cheesy name but great content.

39 Ivan Webster July 21, 2012 at 10:17 am

“Harden the f**k up” is necessary, but it skips a step.

Addictions and other distractions mask pain. You first have to look at the pain.

To do that, you need to be sure you’re on your own side — not “objective”, ever — then take a hard, unflinching look at what’s hurting you.

Next: banish — or flee — whatever’s hurting you. Show it no mercy.

You’ve taken step one in “hardening the f**k up”.

In clearing the fog of addictions, you let your dreams find you.

Then you start to toughen up the dreamer.

40 Desmond Savage July 21, 2012 at 10:29 am

Thanks for this article. I needed this, right now. I am a surgeon in Afghanistan, and two days ago, just lost two guys after they got hit with an IED. One, I thought we had salvaged. The other guy had all four limbs blown off, bled out in the field. Was feeling very sorry for myself. Time to reel it in.
Thanks again, Des.

41 Jon Q July 21, 2012 at 10:37 am

@Taylor-Awesome point. The article was great and as for the Huckberry Giveaway I would defiantly choose the Dopp kit in Tan.

42 James July 21, 2012 at 10:39 am

Fred gets it. It’s really simple guys. First AoM article where the comment section was almost a total waste of time….

43 Native Son July 21, 2012 at 11:40 am

Looking at a lot of my co-workers, including myself at times, I note that the attitude described in the article is missing in a lot of folks…on both isdes of the situation. I will opine, that on rare (VERY rare) occassions, a brief (VERY brief) “self-pity party” is in order, but ya ALWAYS got to suck it up & get it done, and inevitably, the sooner, the better.

44 Native Son July 21, 2012 at 11:43 am

Oh, about the porn:
1. It really wastes time.
2. The guy described above was axed for watching porn instead OF DOING HIS JOB.
3. I’ll leave the philosphizing, moralizing, and politicizing to others.
–I’ve got to get going on fixing that back fence this morning.

45 Marcus Brotherton July 21, 2012 at 2:25 pm

@ Sam–yes, okay to repost in your newsletter. Please credit with “by Marcus Brotherton, used by permission.”

@ Desmond, thank you so much for your comment. Stay strong, my friend.

46 another Stephen July 21, 2012 at 2:44 pm

What I saw in this piece is an example of what a good friend can do for you. Would Brown have survived if Philips had said or thought, “He’s gone.”?
It’s difficult to tell, Brown might have survived if he had an iron will; but it took just a little encouragement form a buddy to pull through this rough patch in his life. This is a rarity in today’s society. Can you name just one “brother” (biological or not) that would do this for you? This story shows the -dare I say it- love he had for his hometown comrade. I believe we all need a pal to “kick us in the rump” sometimes to fulfill our mission in life. Do you have one?

47 Dan July 21, 2012 at 3:10 pm

And re porn. Porn’s great. Like most easy pleasure, it’s a great place to escape to.

48 Work Harder July 21, 2012 at 3:40 pm

Michael71, love the comment about knowing your enemy.

49 Wo July 21, 2012 at 6:27 pm

The intent of the article looks to boil down to: Take action not drama.
You can whine piss and moan all you want, but if you are not focused on the reality if the situation or the action you should be taking -you just sink into failure.
This applies for the life-or-death as well as the seemingly trivial situation.

50 Sam July 21, 2012 at 7:09 pm

@Marcus Of course! Thank you for permission.

51 Rhodes Bolster July 21, 2012 at 8:48 pm

The thing with porn is that it objectifies women. You are using them for your personal pleasure and satisfaction, not seeing her and treating her with dignity and respect. That woman in that porn flick? She is someone’s brother, some father’s little girl. It’s disrespectful to treat women as objects for our own desires. We are called to honor, defend, and protect all women. Not just our wives, girlfriends, or sisters. Man up and fight the urge to use porn. It’s not healthy.

52 Ames July 22, 2012 at 12:18 am

Short, to the point, and just what we all needed to hear.

53 Steve July 22, 2012 at 6:24 am

@Rhodes Bolster:

I get your sentiment, and it is honorable. But I think your statement is also sexist, when you call to “defend and protect all women”. Except for the girls who are drugged and forced to make porn (which I hope are none on legally available porn), those women chose to do it. It’s their job, they get paid for it, the go to those shootings voluntarily, and I think trying to “save” them from the choices they made is really condescending.

54 Jacob July 22, 2012 at 7:55 am

Of all the advice I would give young men this is the article that addresses it. Self-Pity is a computer virus in your brain and it will weave itself around many aspects of your life. Unfortunately it is present throughout our society and a destructive tactic used for manipulation in political policy.
Just remember you young men out there, nobody respects a Whiner and even though you feel you have a legitimate gripe you just gotta “Suck it up and Tough it Out”

55 Jay July 22, 2012 at 8:35 am

D*mn, I needed that. Cheers

56 47Driver July 22, 2012 at 8:47 am

Some follow on questions I pose to those I work with, is…

Do you have a battle buddy who nows you intimately enough to know what it takes to keep you moving when you think you can’t?

Are you a battle buddy that knows your friend intimately enough to know when they need you to help them stay motiviated and moving?

Many men are afraid to allow others to know their weaknesses, but a close friend is one who is willing to help you become strong in your weakness, and you do the same for him. I have many friends, but very few close friends who know what I need and when I need it without asking.

57 Tank July 22, 2012 at 11:05 am

You are absolutely right. The, site is legit and full of startling info. Every guy that looks at porn, even rarely, ought to see that site and say, “No more for me.” Another commenter said that watching porn is the least masculine thing imaginable, and I agree. Why would watch some scuzzy guy with a tool the size of a policeman’s flashlight bang some skank you’ll never meet, never speak to, date, or marry. Watching porn is beta-male behavior. Cut if off and do some push-ups. For Pete’s sake, even porn sluts are some guys daughter.

58 Kit July 22, 2012 at 1:23 pm

Forget the porn argument, it is just one of several examples. Food, porn, movies, books, alcohol, drugs, the point of the article is true for any of them. One of my biggest is food. I am fat – I’ve denied it and ignored it for a long time, but it is true. I eat to much and exercise to little. I come up with great plans, and diets, and programs – and ANY of them would work. If it didn’t plan to start them “tomorrow”. If I didn’t say, “One big fling with this vice before I start my new life.” IT DOESN’T WORK! There is always an excuse. But Man Up and admit that you are whining and making excuses. I am still struggling with it, but admitting your weakness – identifying the problem – is the first step to fixing it. Get tough with yourself, admit that you are not where you should be and demand that you change. How you make that change is another discussion, for true addictions is may take help, therapy, medication, whatever. But stop lying to yourself about what the problem is, accept that you have a weakness and decide to overcome it – that is what being tough with yourself mean to me.

59 MichaelP71 July 22, 2012 at 1:42 pm

Another thing I gleaned from reading the combox responses is that steel sharpens steel. Men need men to make themselves better MEN. (This goes without saying that our women make the steel more shiny, etc…)

60 RJ July 22, 2012 at 3:20 pm

@ stephan.. I do not agree.. It is VERY MUCH like blaming the Porn. Addictions do that. Your comment should be seen from the light of the Drunk man falls off the Curb and breaks his leg.. ” well you can’t blame the Booze “. The Reason moderation and abstention are important is some things are Traps.. and then you make poor choices.. the point in the Article is not to let yourself make poor choices when you tell yourselves You deserve a Break . BE AT WORK , at WORK. you are most vulnerable.. when HUNGRY , ANGRY , LONELY or TIRED. HALT. H.A.L.T. These are the times when being aware of yourself.. and choosing to go back to the battle , are Best. Staying away from potential Traps is also a Great idea. Porn , Gambling , Sex , Booze , TV.. Spending Money.. can all be Traps.. That is science.

61 Samantha July 22, 2012 at 4:15 pm

This article is about being a real man, and talking about how it’s sexist to defend women- that wasn’t manly, that was an excuse for your debase behavior. Just because a woman volunteers to take off her clothes for you doesn’t make it right. The things you men are arguing over are morality issues. Some men make excuses and some stand for what is honorable. Women DO want and need security- the women’s movement did nothing for women but increase the divorce rate and cause women to depend on the government rather than their husbands for support for their children. Women in general want and desire an honorable man who stands for truth wheather in public or private. Making a name for yourself- and making your family proud by your actions and hard work. Just because women do wrong things, it doesn’t give men an excuse. It just makes it all the more honorable to see you doing what’s right!

62 Steve July 22, 2012 at 6:29 pm


no need for insults here, we’re just talking.

I’m not making an excuse for my behavior, I stopped watching porn a while ago for different reasons.

And of course it is honorable for a man to defend women – when they can’t defend themselves. If I saw a woman get attacked somewhere or otherwise get abused I would of course try to defend her.

But if a woman voluntarily takes of her clothes and fucks on camera, then who am I to tell her that this is wrong or amoral or whatever?
If a woman can be a lawyer or doctor or soldier, why can’t she be a porn actress if she wants to be?

I’m not going to comment on the womens’ rights issue, because that discussion usually ends in a lot of frustration on both sides.

63 Steve July 22, 2012 at 6:36 pm


Great comment!
You are absolutely right: You have to admit that you have a problem, and you have to identify that problem.
That alone takes a lot of courage!

For me, to really accept what my problem is, I had to write it down on paper so it became something real, not just a thought in my head.

64 Damon July 22, 2012 at 8:38 pm

@ Bert.
I don’t want to sound like I am attacking you. To me you are the product of the feminist movement and a prime example of an emasculated man. That doesn’t mean there isn’t hope for you. Believe it or not men and women are not the same, God didn’t mean for them to be either. Women are omade in the image of God just as men are, they show the beauty, kindness, caring, and tenderness. Men are made to reflect the strength, courage, and when needed the ability to defend and fight for his family or for God. When men started getting turned into women thru the feminists and the churches who leave the battles and the fireceness of God and Jesus out of their scriptures, and homos become ok on tv, boy band are setup as role models for young men rather then John Wayne, we end up with bunny slipper wearingmen who don’t know their roles in the world and are terrible exaples to their kids, bad husbands to their wives. I wish you the best of luck and hope you can find a real man to show you the way.

65 Mike G July 22, 2012 at 10:20 pm

Here’s a simple test to help you figure if porn hurts; Ask your girlfriend if she loves the fact that you do it. Not if she minds, not if she can handle it. If she Loves it. 99cents says if she’s honest she’ll say it hurts her. If it hurts her, and you’re a real man, it hurts you.

@Bert, you’ve confused the Feminist agenda with pure reality. The world has changed and there is a masculine take on it. If the feminists are right about the imbalance of power in the past, then Masculinity is what got us here. Both sexes have their faults and powers. For men, strength, stick-to-it-ness, comraderie (deep deep friendship), ingenuity, a physical bent are all masculine traits.. Turned wrong they are also the faults that are pushed by feminist agenda (eg, Stick-to-it-ness gone awry is “bull headedness” or ingenuity in the area of weapons is violent, etc.

For the record the ladies have their faults too: Communication skills becomes gossip/catiness, loving home becomes “over protectedness” (eg for children), protection of the household becomes insecurity and fear, balanced interdependence becomes unhealthy dependence, good cooking becomes bad cooking… Ok that last one is just a stereotype joke :P ….

66 Stephen Koch July 22, 2012 at 11:02 pm

Gentlemen—This is a wonderful exchange. My wife happens to be a psychiatrist who has successfully treated numerous addictions, including porn addictions. Please note: WILL POWER ALONE IS NOT ENOUGH. Many porn addicts (and alcoholics and other kinds of addicts) are strong-willed men capable of powerful, focussed achievements. They have no lack of will. Ivan Webster, I think you’re on the money when you speak of the pain behind addiction, and especially the pain of intense anxiety—-the anxiety that makes you want to curl up inside a bottle of Scotch or run away and have funless fun in some sexual la-la land.

Remember, we are talking here about addiction—not the social drink with some friends or to unwind; not the occasional tune-in to watch some pretty people faking one of your favorite hot fantasies. Such things are not addiction. They may not be noble or admirable, but they are not addiction. Addiction is different, and easy to spot. Addiction is day-destroying, joy destroying, self-respect destroying, soul-destroying. When you’re left feeling any of those things, you’re dealing with the real McCoy.

Bert, I find your comment an embarrassment, and you should too. The writers here who call it arrogant and false are not wrong. You are obviously a bright man: are really so blind that you think Theodore Roosevelt, Charles Dickens, Charles Darwin, Sir Arthur Fleming, George Gershwin, Steve Jobs, and Lance Armstrong (to name seven men at random, each a model of some kind of manliness) were incapable of “reasoning, observation, listening, conversation?” Now come on, you’ve got to be smarter than that! I think Damon is way too tough on you, BUT your straw man doesn’t exist. You are using a cheap stereotype to slander half the human race. I don’t like the way Damon insults you, but you are buying into the picture of all men as grunting primitive belligerent Neanderthals–apart from splendid exceptions like yourself, of course. This sickening misandry is an essential feature of Second Wave Feminist propaganda at its lowest. It is one of the Big Lies, and you should be ashamed to be spreading it.

67 Jon July 22, 2012 at 11:26 pm

great article, but I should have been taking care of other responsibilities instead of reading it. crap.

68 Travis July 22, 2012 at 11:26 pm

Great article! (not so great comments though) Loved the video at the end too-very inspiring. Would love to meet Sid Phillips–he’s sound like a great man. Keep the good stuff coming AoM!

69 +m July 23, 2012 at 2:54 am

Although I agree with the article I think it has its limits. It could do with a follow up article on trauma.

70 AC July 23, 2012 at 4:31 am

I’m with Samantha. Steve, would you like your daughter to become a prostitute? After all it’s just another choice, like being a lawyer….

Does rationalizing your own failings and cover them in noble-sounding words like freedom make you feel better?

71 Melika July 23, 2012 at 9:44 am

I’d just like to address the poster who feels that no one can tell a woman who voluntarily participates in porn she is amoral, etc.: Yes you can, just like you can tell someone who abuses alcohol or drugs that they are amoral or simply doing something unhealthy that effects themselves and those around them. In some societies infanticide is normal, in ours it is abhorrent – we made that decision. As a society, we get to decide what is considered healthy or unhealthy, normal or abnormal, moral or amoral behavior. People don’t like that idea anymore, we’ve become accustomed to confusing the word “freedom” with “anarchy”. A free people don’t get to do whatever they want. Just because a person is capable of a certain behavior doesn’t mean it ought to be promoted or even tolerated. There are people who want to commit murder and those who want to be murder victims (strange but true). Should we allow it because both parties are consenting adults or do we recognize that both are wrong?

Many women work in the porn/dance environment simply for money. They need it, it is readily available, and quickly obtained. Many women would rather NOT be involved in these environments. It IS just a job, and one they have trained themselves to do. Part of me doesn’t want to remove these women’s ability to make money off of stupid, weak men, but another part has seen how this type of occupation hurts women badly, especially the more debased “work”. Women in this work don’t discuss how it hurts them with men, because men tend to be the enemy. I don’t know what the answer is or what it should be, but denying that it is unhealthy behavior for most women simply because they consent is delusional at best. A good rule is, if you would think it inappropriate for your mom/sister/daughter to do it, then it is amoral and wrong and you shouldn’t promote it, support it, or allow the exploitation to continue.

72 AlanR July 23, 2012 at 10:53 am

Thank you for kicking me in the gut this morning.

I have been whining and in a funk lately. It’s affected my job, my marriage and my overall happiness.

I don’t deserve a break. And if something is going to change in my life I must go about changing it myself instead of waiting for someone to hand it to me.

I know this doesn’t fix things. A post doesn’t change things. It must become a practiced thing in my life.

73 Steve July 23, 2012 at 11:48 am


thank you for your reply.

I don’t know anyone in the porn business, so of course I cannot comment on the psychological damage this work does to the women involved.
If indeed the women do this job because they are forced to by economic circumstances, than yes, that might qualify as a case where rescue is appropriate.

Still, I think even at this level there is still choice involved. At least in my country social welfare has reached a level where no woman is forced to either work as porn actress or starve to death. This may be different in other areas of the world.

The other things you compared to doing porn – drug abuse, infanticide – are not only amoral, they are illegal, and so in my opinion of a different caliber.

As far as hurting loved ones goes: You are right, that is an issue. But it is not an issue where the one doing the hurt needs to be rescued, it is about comforting those getting hurt.

And no, I don’t want any of my relatives to do porn. But I also don’t want them to be pot-heads, hippies, or vegetarians, although I (barely) tolerate these behaviors in other people.

All I’m saying is: If a woman decides to do porn of her own free will, of course you can tell her you don’t like it, or find it amoral, just like you tell me that you don’t share my opinion about this. But trying to rescue her from her own free choice is condescending.

74 Nick July 23, 2012 at 12:23 pm

Did this really turn into a porn argument? Look at the actual meaning of the article…jeez.

After reading this and watching the video it never ceases to amaze me when I read about what those men did during WWII. It makes me proud to be a Marine. Semper Fi.

75 J. Delancy July 23, 2012 at 12:23 pm

How did this well written piece, turn into a morality piece on porn and female empowerment?
Get Tough With Yourself. Focus on the things that will really change your life and the world for the better. Arguing about porn does not fill the bill, for heavens’ sake.
The underlying message is that at some point in your life, you’ll need to suck it up and Get It Done, Japanese soldiers and dysentery be damned.
Also, it’s good if you can cultivate the kind of friend who can put up with your sh*t long enough to help you do it.

76 Maggie P. July 23, 2012 at 1:53 pm

Great article, even for us girls! Thanks!

I hate that this has turned into a porn debate. Folks, porn isn’t the problem. Sure, it’s easy to blame something outside of ourselves but please quit with the assumptions and speaking for women. “Ask your girlfriend if she likes you watching it” This may just backfire on the anti-porn agenda. I enjoy porn and I enjoy watching porn with my husband. HOWEVER porn, like all forms of entertainment, can become too much. If we are opting to watch porn (or eat junk food, or watch The Price is Right, or read blogs, etc etc) instead of living our lives therein lies the problem. (Wo)Man up and deal with *that* and quit blaming its mere existence for all that ails you and the world.

Now if you’re religious or otherwise have moral issues with porn that’s your deal, not the rest of ours. Don’t speak for me and I won’t speak for you.

77 Maggie P. July 23, 2012 at 1:55 pm

Oh and:
“All I’m saying is: If a woman decides to do porn of her own free will, of course you can tell her you don’t like it, or find it amoral, just like you tell me that you don’t share my opinion about this. But trying to rescue her from her own free choice is condescending.”

Thank you, Steve! Well said.

78 Brais July 23, 2012 at 5:52 pm

A well done article, but I think it misses a large point, and that’s not to kill yourself in the process. While thankfully this man was able to get past the dysentery, the truth is that people still die from it, and while wartime measures can be demanding, if a civilian has it, he/she shouldn’t (for example) run a marathon. In this case, rest is well deserved and a certain amount of foresight is needed when making these decisions to make sure one does not harm themselves even further.

79 Ara Bedrossian July 23, 2012 at 7:41 pm

“Waste no more time arguing what a good man should be. Be one.” Damn good quote, Mark Ruddick. That’s a gem, thanks for posting it. I have a saying, thinking about thinking prevents you from thinking.
And thanks to Marcus Brotherton for this post. Cheers.

80 James D July 24, 2012 at 1:30 am

Wax Canvas Messenger looks great.

81 Jim Collins July 24, 2012 at 8:22 am

Esteemed Kate, Brett, and Readers,

There is I think, some merit in considering a role for self-indulgence that is the antithesis of coddling one’s self – as the celebration of achievement. The pitch for our project flew today, let’s have a drink. The experiment gave an unimpeachable result, let’s have a fine meal. My wife got a promotion. I think I’ll go home and show her that it’s something worth being passionate about, and I won’t forget the flowers.

On the other hand, in fact, I took one in the chops yesterday and I’d damn well better stay in the fight or I can never be worthy the celebrations I name in the previous paragraph.

Jim Collins

82 Michael July 24, 2012 at 11:01 am

“The man who has daily inured himself to habits of concentrated attention, energetic volition and self-denial (discipline) in unnecessary things will stand like a tower when everything rocks around him and when his softer fellow-mortals are winnowed like chaff in the blast.”

-William James

83 jason July 24, 2012 at 12:21 pm

Thanks. This post is very timely. It’s like being hit with a 2×4 as a needed wake up call. I think this post will change the lives of any man who reads this, whether you are Phillips or Brown.

84 Rick July 24, 2012 at 4:08 pm

The people whinging about porn in the comments are the people this article should be directed at. Quit being such a pack of sissies, and stop whining.

85 Splashman July 24, 2012 at 5:27 pm

@Robin, thanks for the link to Lots of good stuff there, and I recognize I have some changes to make.

86 Splashman July 24, 2012 at 5:37 pm

@Maggie P., if an offhand reference to porn (in an article about getting tough with yourself) turns into a referendum on porn, it’s safe to say it’s a problem. Wishing otherwise won’t make it so.

87 Brad Alexander July 24, 2012 at 9:30 pm

Brilliant article. On reflection I think I do this reasonably often but wasn’t really conscious of it. This article has forced me into a little bit of self reflection so now that I am aware of it I will be able to overcome it.

88 Daman July 25, 2012 at 6:37 pm

Great article as usual, it’s tough but worthwhile to learn how to be your own drill sergeant.

89 dave July 25, 2012 at 11:18 pm

Thanks for a great piece. I needed a little mental kick in the ass.

Personally, I believe porn can be very damaging in a relationship. So I avoid it.

The issue that I saw also mentioned in the article, but not touched on since was ANGER. This is own my personal problem, but it affects the people I care about greatly. Thanks for reminding me that it is up to me to fix it.

90 USMC OCS Blog July 26, 2012 at 8:57 am

Fantastic post! Would we be able to reblog it as a guest post, with full author credit and linkback for you?

91 Johnny July 26, 2012 at 10:27 am

I’m convinced life is about putting one foot in front of the other, no matter how painful it is. When I overthink things, I get depressed. When I make a plan, lay out the action steps, and get started, I feel better. This morning, I was looking forward to cooking a good breakfast before work. Instead, the dog had pooped in his kennel. So much for breakfast. But amazingly, on THIS morning, I decided to suck it up. I didn’t call anyone to complain about it. I just cleaned it up, packed breakfast for work, and went on about my day.

I really liked Fred’s comment from the 20th around 10:00 o’clock. Acknowledge the strength is within you, not that you have to go and look for it. Jesus said, “Indeed, the Kingdom of God is within you.” Luke 17:21 That’s what I believe and I need to believe it every day. String enough good days together and you’ve got a habit and a character. PEACE!

92 Marcus Brotherton July 26, 2012 at 10:52 am

Absolutely on reposting it.
Thanks much,

93 Moeregaard July 27, 2012 at 11:10 am

Several years ago, we lost a research aircraft that had been the culmination of five years’ work. Being unmanned, nobody got hurt, but we had a large number of young engineers who’d only worked on this program and some were not dealing well with this setback. Our former boss, who’d come out of retirement as part of the mishap investigation, told all of us in a meeting that “Nothing is worse than doing nothing.” We brought the spare aircraft out of mothballs and carried on with flight testing, and today that airplane is hanging in the Smithsonian. Life is full of setbacks, but that was some of the best advice I’ve ever gotten.

94 Ken July 27, 2012 at 12:32 pm

This is exactly what I needed. I never regret visiting this website. Thank you!

95 Michael July 28, 2012 at 7:11 pm

JP – “Confused as to how specifically porn hurts you, but I did like this piece.”

Porn in this case is something to console and comfort you when you should be doing something more important.

96 deltaboy July 28, 2012 at 7:21 pm

Great read and porn, food and Booze can destory you. You have to strong enough to set limits .

97 Jared Petersen July 30, 2012 at 7:08 am

Condemning porn is exactly what this article is NOT about. If you’ve got a problem, the problem is in-between your ears. Don’t coddle yourself and blame others… get in gear and go. If you don’t like it, don’t do it, but nobody is in a position to judge anyone else.

98 Chris July 30, 2012 at 4:34 pm

Brillant article it was just what I needed and at JP porn seriously harms you, if you watch it too much, take it from a former porn addict.

99 Ashley Martinez August 1, 2012 at 1:36 pm

Thanks for the great post. I needed a salt tablet to get my mind right!

100 Core August 1, 2012 at 10:45 pm

@#30 That was an interesting article.

And as a single male, who really doesn’t want marriage yet, until I get my own situation in life figure out, panned out, whatever you want to say. I’d argue that I do indeed need erotic material very much. Or I’ll.. clog up mentally. >_>;;

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