The Ancient Ritual Men Need Now More Than Ever

Pain is purifying if it's sustained in the pursuit of something that will improve your life.

confident young man Stefan Stefancik from Pexels

There are no more "rites of passage" in larger modern American society because they are no longer needed to be considered an adult.

A rite of passage is simply an activity that forces you to recognize and bear the expectations and burdens of adulthood.

A rite of passage marks the official end of the age of innocence.



Technically, the word "innocence" derives from the Latin "in" (meaning "not") and "nocere" (meaning "to harm") to mean "not harming" — which is one way we think of innocence. A person who is not guilty of causing harm.


We also think of children as innocent as well. And we specifically reference events that expose them to the harsh realities of the adult world too early as "robbing them of their innocence." We expose them to adult intentions and outcomes that they can't properly process as they still have the mental and emotional faculties of a child.

This is as dangerous as trying to lift a weight that's too heavy for your body. Except it's worse.

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At least when you try to lift more than you can handle, you know it's coming and it's usually you who initiates the motion.


When a child is abused or exposed to something too much for their mind and emotions to handle, they have no idea what they're getting into, and it takes them by surprise.

This is bad, but something just as terrible happens when an adult's mind, body, and soul is still treated as thought it were a kid's.

See, humans are anti-fragile creatures. This means that we only get better when we're broken down.

Of course, we can't be broken down before we attain a certain level of strength, but our minds and psyche are just like our bodies in this way.

In the same way, you get stronger from lifting weights. The muscle breaks down and you adapt to carry greater weight.


If you don't put your thoughts and feelings under pressure, they will never grow strong enough to handle adult pressure.

An adult losing their innocence too late is just as dangerous as a child losing theirs too early. The latter seems worse because it's beyond their control, and we see the effects immediately, but a child's mind in an adult's body can be just as destructive — if not more. This is where the rite of passage comes in.

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What makes a rite of passage so important for men?

A rite of passage is a singular act that, when the time is right, exposes a childish mind to the rigorous expectations of adult life.


If it's done too early, it'll traumatize them. If it's too late, they will be too comfortable to confront the monster. I believe the latter, at this point in time, is a much bigger problem — especially among men.



Let me make something clear: women need a rite of passage, as well. However, I'm focusing on men for two reasons:

1. Society is not as harsh on an immature woman as it is on an immature man. If you doubt this, look at the number of men in prison versus women. Or the number of men in homeless shelters or men who commit suicide. The world is challenging for women, but it's a different type of challenge.


2. I'm a man. I can't speak to what women go through or what they should or shouldn't do for development. I don't even have a daughter. In other words, I'm completely ignorant of the developmental plight of a woman.

As a man, you must expose yourself to pain, because pain is purifying.

Pain is purifying if it's sustained in the pursuit of something that will improve your life. It's destructive if it's the pursuit of comfort.



The best rites of passage are those that force you to confront your fear of being harmed, but you can't escape them without facing and moving past them.


That's why I always say that boxing and sobriety were both my rites of passage because both forced me to face pain and embarrassment head-on and make it through to become better.

When in doubt, do the thing that will force you to not only leave your comfort zone but also exist in a state of uncertainty and discomfort while pursuing a better life.

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Ed Latimore is a retired American professional boxer, influencer, and best-selling author. His work focuses on self-improvement and a practical approach to Stoic philosophy.