I hear some version of this question or objection weekly.

Here are some similar questions he asks:

“Yeah, but… aren’t there some cases where it’s just too far gone?”

“Yeah, but… how can I know it will work out and that she’ll want to be intimate again?”

“Yeah, but… how do I know it won’t last forever?”

“Yeah, but… what if she doesn’t change?”

Every man I challenge and invite to live in a fuller expression of himself asks me these questions. 

They’re each asking these questions for the same reason, and none of them enjoy or appreciate hearing about that reason. 

The sad truth is that they live in with an external locus of control – a life of powerless victimization, yet few are aware of this, hence why they ask the question. Everything they think has happened to them, and everything that will happen in the future is something they see as external to themselves.

The underlying reasons men ask this question

Men ask this question when the stories they use to understand life have a storyline where other people give them things they need, when people can cause them harm by doing something to them or withholding things from them, and when goodness comes to them from others.

Let me blunt; this is a far more childish and immature story than an adult is capable of living in.

When a man has needs, wants, and desires that he doesn’t see himself as able to provide, he has no choice but to look to others to meet those needs. Sadly, this is considered normal in today’s world. 

Why some men think this is normal

Men think this is normal when they’re stuck in childhood stories where mom, dad, and others adults provide for their comfort and needs. Stories where someone else feeds, entertains, provides for, protects, and soothes them.

We are born in a helpless state where we can’t provide for our needs, wants, and desires. This dependency on others is a normal way to live when we are young. However, the path to maturity is one in which humans learn to slowly take on responsibility for themselves and what they need.

As some men get older, even though their bodies grow into adults, their understanding does not mature to match. They don’t learn that no one else is responsible for them and their needs.

So they feel a need within them and their natural conclusion is that someone needs to provide that need. No one ever told them the life-giving stories of adulthood where they were capable and had what it takes to lead themselves to what they needed, wanted, or desired.

This immature view of life is pretty standard, and many men have many of these adolescent views when getting married. I sure did!

The four roles in all our stories

In Donald Miller’s Hero on a Mission, Miller asserts four roles exist in all our stories. The Victim, The Villain, The Hero, The Guide. In my work with men, I’ve found Miller’s observation accurate.

In my work with men, I’ve discovered that in every scenario where a man is experiencing emotional pain, he’ll find a story where he’s playing the role of The Victim.

This revelation is both liberating and terrifying. It is liberating because there are other stories he can live in where he’s not a victim. But it’s terrifying because unless he learns to write those stories himself, he will never live in them.

We don’t have “people” problems; we have story problems

If I were to summarize the transformative coaching and mentoring experiences I lead men through in one sentence, it would be this; I teach men to be heroes.

It really is that simple. Because behind everything plaguing a man is a story where he’s a powerless victim, the path forward isn’t a change in others but a change in the script and his role in the story.

When a man learns to step into the role of The Hero, his stories change, and when a man’s stories change, his life changes. It’s one of the most gratifying things to behold on Planet Earth.

What being The Hero changes

There are immediate benefits when a man learns to stop being The Victim. Perhaps the most significant advantage in a long-term relationship like marriage is how he relates to his partner.

When a man plays The Victim, there is nearly always someone else playing The Villain, and it tends to be his spouse. Once a man truly evacuates The Victim role, he realizes a powerful truth; the Villain in his story was not his spouse, but the story he had about her. 

A man can’t let go of The Victim without this effect. Many think they’re playing The Hero simply because they’re no longer idle in their story. While taking action is more heroic than living idly in inaction, if a man’s story has a Villain, he’s still The Victim. Guys get pissed when I say that. That, too, is often more victimization.

“Yeah, but… But Sven, aren’t you Victim Shaming/Blaming?”

I hear this one frequently too. Men confuse this message about empowerment with dismissing what is happening in their lives.

I’m very empathetic to them! I’m no stranger to deep emotional pain, and I don’t dismiss it. I, too, experienced unpleasant things that felt abusive, hurtful, manipulative, and, quite honestly, made me want my life to be over. 

I spent years up to my eyebrows in pain and suffering and would have paid any price to make it stop and show men how to escape from a foundation of knowing what works. Waiting for a Villain to stop doesn’t work.

I’m not saying a man is at fault or to blame for his pain, but if he wants it to stop, he must become responsible for leading himself into new stories. It just so happens that when many men finally have this “ah-ha!” moment, they realize that their role change was all that was necessary.

Does that let other people off the hook? Of course not! It just frees a man from the despairing prison of delaying himself a life of thriving, happiness, and joy until other people change. 

The four virtues that change Victims into Heroes

You wonder if the men that need this are just weak men. They’re not.

I’ve worked with Elite Special Forces, Military Veterans, Law Enforcement, Physicians, Surgeons, Paramedics, and plenty of traditionally “heroic” careers – all of who needed help finding The Hero role in some of the stories in their life.

After helping many men like this and others become heroes, I’ve found four virtues that help a man transition from playing The Victim to being The Hero. 


It is impossible to be a victim and a hero simultaneously. The crucial turning point for a man is when he realizes that no one is coming to save him. No one will end his victim story for him. This sobering truth becomes a turning point where he lays down the victim’s cloak and picks up the tools for being the hero in his own story.

In this is the challenging moment, he assesses his situation and gains clarity about what got him here and what he must do to escape. He prevails as he leads himself only to accept storylines centered on self-reliance and responsibility. He’ll battle countless stories of blame and struggle not to don the victim’s cloak of powerlessness and waiting.

Self-reliance does not mean he must do it alone! He must provide the spark of life and walk out of the story on his own two feet, and that if he is to live an epic life, it will be by the leadership of his own heart and mind.


Ownership and Self-Reliance are bedfellows. Self-reliance and rescue are the “how” a man begins to change the story role he’s been living in. Ownership is the “what” of his new story.

Without a new “what” story for a man to live in, self-reliance and rescue will ultimately lead him to the feet of a new hero. He’ll walk toward a “long-term” hero who he believes will provide for all those unmet needs, wants, and desires. 

If a man is to become The Hero truly, he must live in new stories that take him not just to new lands but ones where he possesses the title and deed. He must own his story, the pen that writes it, and everything that happens to him within it.

Unconditional High Regard

A man quickly learns that to be self-reliant and own requires a reliable and consistent way of being toward others. He discovers that as long as other people’s actions cause him internal or emotional conflict, he doesn’t own his internals or emotions; others do.

Such a heroic man evolves in his understanding to conclude that seeing people through the lens of their actions and behavior leads him to judge others. Such a system of regard for others is conditional and endlessly changing based on their performance. 

Such a standard antagonizes ownership and self-reliance as his treatment of others becomes a reaction to them. Instead of being sourced in his virtues, principles, and who he enjoys being in the world, conditional regard robs him of his heroic nature.

Unconditional high regard becomes a wellspring from which he can draw empowering and life-giving water regardless of what other people are doing, allowing him always to be the hero and never the victim.


As I mentioned, self-reliance, self-rescue, and ownership don’t mean doing things alone! 

Men who do it alone tend to fail to live as heroes. Worse still, they don’t just fail to become heroes and live in The Victim role; they often become The Villain.

Why? Because there is wonderful and frightening truth about these roles – they mature and grow into other roles. Heroes develop into Guides, and Victims morph into Villains.

Brotherhood is a staggeringly effective way to bring out the best in men. Being surrounded by brothers committed to living as heroes – men living virtuous lives of self-reliance, ownership, and unconditional high regard – lifts all men upward.

As Carlos Gracie says, “If you want to be a lion, you must train with lions.”

and an old African proverb affirms by saying, “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together”.

A man seeking to live a lion-hearted and heroic life and go far in life must do so in the company of like-minded men.

What if I don’t want to be a hero?

There is no requirement to live life as The Hero. Many men choose to live their entire lives as The Victim.

My work with men often results from extreme relationship challenges like sexless marriages, poor or no intimacy, separation, pending divorce, and more.

Allow me to be blunt for a moment…

Women aren’t attracted to, nor do f*ck victims, but heroes – and not just outwardly heroic men but men with brave hearts living in epic and bold stories. 

It takes more than big muscles, big paychecks, and big toys to inspire deep emotional connection, intimacy, love, and loyalty in a woman. 

It takes a hero’s heart.

Need help finding your inner hero and writing a better story?

If you’re tired of playing the victim or villain roles and need help living in a better story, I can help!

I’ve created a six-month mentoring experience called The Renewed Masculine Man, an epic personal journey deep into the heart and mind to find, recover, and renew the virtues that lead men to live an epic life of connection, meaning, mission, and purpose.

The Renewed Masculine Man is a six-month journey for any man who longs for his best but just needs some help getting there. In it, he’ll explore deeply the landscapes of self-rescue, self-reliance, ownership, and high regard – all within a supportive community of heroic men on the same journey.y

To find out more or apply for a spot in an upcoming group, please click here

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