Hi, I’m an Alpha male. I’m a husband, father, son, brother, and sports fan — but I am no longer the arrogant, overly competitive type of Alpha whose ego dictates his life.
Growing up, blame and insecurity dominated my life. To survive, I learned to remain one step ahead of others and wear strong emotional armor.
Today, I accept that I am just another passenger on the bus of life and I no longer insist on sitting in the driver’s seat all the time.
Why? Because most of the time, when I was in the driver’s seat “accomplishing my goals,” it was at the expense of other men and women. If you stood in the way of me achieving a goal (deliberately or even innocently), I’d run right over you, regardless of the consequences.
In my youth I’d get out of bed, shower, look in the mirror, admire my physical appearance and say, “God, you look great today!” But in my late 20s, I started losing my hair.
At 30-something, my joints began to ache. As my physical strength and appearance altered, my response was to “man up” even more in other areas until, in my 40s, I realized that if I didn’t change my behavior, I was going to lose my wife and my best friend(s).
So, I began attending a men and women’s group, stopped running and switched to low impact cycling to keep the belly bulge at bay.
In my 50s, my ab definition and facial tone gave way to a less muscular appearance — but inside I was a stronger, better man.
Today, in my heart I am still an Alpha male, just as competitive, yet now I understand that relationships are more important.
And most days, I feel blessed with an acceptance and humility of my humanness.
Along the way, I learned that most Alpha men share the same deep insecurities.
Their behavior, while posturing on the outside, is often focused on covering up their insecurities on the inside.
So, if you love an Alpha male (but don’t always like him), here are two big truths he’s likely trying to hide from the world:
1. Alpha males struggle endlessly with their body image.
Alpha males often depend on their physical ability to dominate and compete aggressively against other male opponents. Alphas learn what it takes to physically rise above their competition.
While Alpha males probably won’t verbalize this insecurity directly, male dissatisfaction with body image is approaching that of women’s dissatisfaction.
A body image survey conducted by Today and AOL found that men worry more about their appearance than they do other aspects of their lives (health, family, relationships, job, finances).
Nearly half of the men surveyed stated that they thought about their physical appearance several times… per day. Fifty-three percent of men said “they felt unsure about their physical appearance at least once a week.” And 41 percent worried that people judge their appearance.
Pressure mounts, as men age, to maintain our physical appearance and retain our competitive edge. Alphas often go to extreme measures (i.e., steroids, testosterone replacement, protein supplements, extreme sports, and excessive workouts), attempting to retain their place at the head of the pack.
While it’s true that men do things on the outside for healthy reasons on the inside, insecure men often try to compensate for feelings of insecurity and loss through unhealthy extreme behaviors.
Help bolster your Alpha male’s confidence about his appearance in these ways:
1. Avoid comments comparing him to other men.
Instead, speak directly and sincerely about how his current choices are adding value to your relationship.
2. Provide specific compliments to him when he does things that help you.
Let him know exactly what it is he is getting right so he can do more that.
3. Avoid being critical when offering your opinions.
When he asks for your opinion, you might say, “If it were me, I might suggest this _____.”
4. Remind him that you’re drawn to him and find him attractive.
One way to do this is by setting time aside each week for a little romance.
5. Commit to giving him 20-second hugs twice a day.
Dr. Jim Walkup, LMFT, says 20 seconds is “how long it takes your body’s oxytocin to kick in and give you that feeling of comfort.”
2. Looking and feeling vulnerable is an alpha male’s kryptonite.
Separating my self-worth from my accomplishments was a Superman-like feat of courage and effort.
Most Alphas are insecure, self-centered, outcome-driven individuals who have little time for people and feelings.
However, vulnerability is a characteristic associated with authentic pride (considering yourself a person of value, not superior to others). Becoming appropriately vulnerable increases genuine humility and acceptance of oneself AND with others, allowing them to see you as relatable and human.
Here’s how you can help your Alpha accept himself and embrace his vulnerability as true strength:
1. Show your Alpha that you value what’s going on inside of him.
Set aside time daily to check in with him (without distractions).
2. Establish agreed upon rules for sharing feelings and thoughts.
This will ensure that doing so feels loving and conversational rather than critical.
3. Let your Alpha know in advance what’s expected of him.
For example, “I need you to listen to my experience and feelings about an incident at work. I do not need any feedback or solutions; I just need to know that you understand how I am presently feeling. Can you do this?”
4. Use “I” messages with your Alpha.
I statements are constructed like this, “When you did _____, I felt _____, because I imagined _____.” This format lets your Alpha know that you’re not blaming him, just merely sharing how you felt.
5. Practice active listening.
To practice active listening, sit facing each other, take turns speaking, and avoid using judgmental words and labels. Ensure that you understand each other by repeating back what you heard and asking if you heard correctly.
There are a lot of positive aspects to the Alpha male personality, but as you likely know, those positives often get lost behind an their stereotypical domineering behavior.
But understanding and helping the Alpha man in your life face his insecurities head-on is the best way to let the true strength in him shine through.
Glenn Harris is a writer, professional coach, co-founder and CEO of Pacific Executive & Education Leadership Associates LLC, and an International Radio Host.