In researching another article I was writing, I happened across a website called ‘To Be Alpha‘, and I got reading a handful of its posts. I couldn’t read all that many because, by about the 4th or 5th one, I couldn’t help imagining it as an Audiobook read by Barney Stinson from How I Met Your Mother.
What I drew from the site was that there are different kinds of men, all given letters of the Greek alphabet. Alphas are the most manly and exude supreme confidence around the opposite sex. Betas struggle when it comes to the opposite sex as they lack the confidence and the ‘sexual dynamic’ (the size of the gap between his masculinity and her femininity) to command any respect from women. Gammas are among the lowest of the bunch: they are almost completely inept. The site says that if you want to be Beta or Gamma, that’s fine, but although it’s not stated explicitly, it’s implied that being Alpha is best. It’s the key to a better you! Become Alpha, and you will be a winner! You will be a success! You will be a MAN!
You will be a total wanker.
Failing that, you’ll be a mental train-wreck just waiting to happen. It just had to be written by an American, with all the emphasis on success and winning – it sounds very much like the “American Dream” wrapped in Trump-like narcissism. Trusting in some life-coach or mentor to make your life “better” comes with one huge caveat: they won’t necessarily change parts of your life for the “better”, but they will change parts of your life to make you more like them. Their life is great – they’re living the dream! But are they? You only see what they want you to see.
Another page I read had the perfect counterargument. I particularly liked this quote:
“The real man transcends alpha and beta. He is strong and confident but also not over-identified with this persona or using it as a shield of protection. He is in touch with what we call his ‘Inner Eve’ (Jung calls the Anima). This inner feminine is how he can relate to a woman and not be intimidated by them or need to control them.” — Debi Berndt
It actually makes me want to read more about Jung’s work. Debi’s article, and her responses to some of the comments underneath, highlight the differences between the confident and energetic external presentation, and the seemingly ‘weaker’ subconscious where fears and neuroses reside; how we build a fortress around our subconscious and defend it vigourously so that it cannot escape into the external and expose us for what we are. When I undertook a course of counselling a few years ago, this was brought up in detail (albeit without any mention of Jungian psychology). I wonder how many of these so-called Alphas will say how much they love their life, but can’t help feeling that something’s missing.
At the lowest points of my life, it was possible that I was being ushered towards ‘alpha-ness’ by other alphas, wanting me to succeed according to their own definitions and not my own. In a way, I’m glad it pushed me past my breaking point: I could then pick up the pieces and start rebuilding. When I look back at the progress I’ve made over the last few years, I could interpret that as having ‘integrated my Anima’: rather than trying to keep my feminine side locked away, I’ve been learning to integrate it, working towards a more complete version of me. In fact, I’m quite glad I can now turn around and say that I have a feminine side, and I’m proud of it.