Ralph Waldo Emerson’s 3 Wisdom Bolts of Inspiration on Being a Self-Reliant Man

Ralph Waldo Emerson is real, old school badass intellectual.

He has a huge appetite for the wisdom that can be gained in a man learning about himself rather than parroting the views of others.

His work celebrates the value of a man using his own mind, muscle and courage to build his own kingdom within the rules of the natural world.

He is the perfect antidote to postmodern intellectuals.

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With a celebration of the individual and a tenacious commitment to personal responsibility, he is a great teacher for men seeking knowledge, strength and guidance on the path of life.

No more so is this true than in his 1841 essay Self Reliance :

Check out 3 of his most motivating lines from Self Reliance below:

1: “There is a time in every man’s education when he arrives at the conviction that envy is ignorance; that imitation is suicide.”

Emerson has the ability to say so much in so few words.

Men working a programme of recovery will no doubt be familiar with the scorn envy is held under.

Every man has an instinctual envy toward the success of others from his infantile ego fearing the loss of supremacy in nature.

Yet to dwell in this envy is to die.

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It is to become hopeless and driven by forces outside of one’s purpose.

Check out this quote from self-development guru and mentor to Tony Robbins Zig Ziglar:

“You can get everything in life you want if you just help others get what they want”

What does this mean, then?

It means that as men seeking to be the best versions of ourselves we must welcome the success of others.

Even more so, we must actively help others to achieve what they want.

The reason for this is because this innately challenges the survival of the fittest mentality of the ego.

In this state, everything is competition.

Nothing is social.

As humans are a social species, we cannot live alone, we are pack animals by nature.

It has been established recently by Dr Jordan Peterson that dominant males in human societies are so by virtue of being capable of acquiring recourses and sharing them out amongst the group.

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Therefore, envy is self-obsessed ignorance that won’t allow you to progress.

Envy will keep you solitary and outcast.

Finally, Emerson adds to this the logical iterant:

Envy is based upon wanting what another has, yet we can only mind what we have.

By living our own life, our own way, we fulfil a much greater purpose.

Only you can be the unique you in this universe.

To betray that is to betray nature itself.


2: “Trust thyself: every heart vibrates to that iron string”

Having dutifully followed this advice in my own life, I will say this:

Trusting yourself isn’t about trusting that you’ll get everything right, it is about trusting that you will learn from your mistakes.

Therefore ‘trust thyself’ is equal to the famous self-development adage: ‘fail your way to success’.

Yet, Emerson had a passion for nature and the natural laws that abound in the universe.

Therefore, being willing to trust oneself is also being willing to trust that power of nature that dwells within you.

For trusting yourself is committing to the notion that your instincts will guide you to the solution when you fail.

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This is the deeper level that personal development is really at.

When we move deeper than the level of the intellect we find the natural law of evolution in our very souls.

To trust yourself is to venture into the unknown, having faith in the knowledge the whatever you find there will gift you the essence of how to grow, strengthen and improve as a man.

3: “Society everywhere is in conspiracy against the manhood of every one of its members”

The above may read as paranoid, but when you look at our generation, is it not so?

Has masculinity ever been under such sustained attack?

Things have reached such a fever pitch that to even say there are two biological genders in a thought-crime. It seems an Orwellian nightmare.

The notion of being a man itself is relentlessly derided as archaic and ‘toxic’ in the present day.

Traditional values have been lost to the whims of money, power and superficial presentations of identity, yet still greater deconstruction of the masculine form is called for from the progressive voices.

Things have reached such a fever pitch that to even say there are two biological genders in a thought-crime.

It seems an Orwellian nightmare.

I keep having to check my head for fear of falling into conspiracy theory, but the drive to destroy the brave, courageous, traditional man is deeply engaged in western culture.

The future does not bode well, yet there is no better time than ever to reclaim yourself and your future than by becoming the best, most measured, strongest, healthiest and wisest man you can possibly be.

No just for yourself, but your culture, grandchildren and grandfathers.

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That Emerson was writing this in the mid-1800s shows us this is no new phenomenon.

However, the battle may be greater now than ever before.

Yet, what a battle it is.

What a great charge leveled against our generation of men – to reawaken the noble strength in masculinity in the present day.

Further, despite the consistent attack against the notion of masculinity, it is and will remain a human constant.

The innate order of masculinity is the divine complement to the chaotic feminine.

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This deeper truth will outlive the destruction that has been caused in the fight to delegitimise masculinity.

Knowing this, you can proceed calmly, passing on the lessons of manhood down the chain, in action and discipline.

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