Print Posted on 04/21/2017 in Self-Growth

How to be a Man

How to be a Man

There is some cruelty to how society views what “Being a Man” is.  In general, we want a MAN to be strong, have the answers, and to take care of the family.  Society also tells men that they are not allowed to explore their thoughts or feelings, and definitely not allowed to talk about their thoughts or feelings.  Society tells men not to share their story.  Message received… “We’ll tough it out”. 

The “cruelty” of the situation is that “toughing it out” only decreases the chance of a man being strong, having answers, and caring for the family.  Men do not have special powers where life issues or trauma bounces off their chest, nor can they forever file away their pain like we file away papers no matter how hard we try.  Instead, frustration, anxiety, and confusion builds up like an active volcano until an ordinary life event becomes too unbearable to handle.  Some choose to dull their pain through the use of drugs or alcohol, some explode through violent words or actions; No matter how much men try, the weight of life events will be carried with them.  Keeping thoughts and feelings inside, without any healthy release, only increases the chances of a man being continuously irritable and angry.  Not being able to share his life’s struggles can lead to isolation and loneliness.  Results can be catastrophic to the individual man, as well as the family.

Currently, men are viewed as being strong, brave, or tough if they get into a physical or verbal fight.  Some fathers teach their son that THE way to stand up for themselves is to use their fists or hurtful words.  Never mind the unintended consequences for everyone involved, never mind the trauma that everyone goes through, and never mind that the cycle of unhealthy ways of dealing with emotions that get passed on.

Society has it wrong.  Learning to better deal with your thoughts and feelings is not a sign of weakness, but rather a sign of strength.  Every mental health professional can verify that the healthiest person in the family is the one that comes to therapy; so why can’t it be a man?  A man is the manliest when he takes steps to improve his mental health; a man is strongest when he wants to live a happier, healthier, and longer life; and a man is the most masculine when he is vulnerable. 

When a man is taught to identify his emotions, his confusion, and his pain, it gives him tools to deal with those issues and ultimately grow more confident and self-assured.  Message would be received…  more masculine.  If “Talking it out” became the normal and expected way of dealing with stress, anxiety, and relationships; men would thrive, friendships flourish, marriages deepen, and families become stronger.  Message would be received… more tough.

As a collective body, men have not yet found their voice, and have not yet fought the biggest and toughest fight.  With a change in conversation, with a change in attitude toward masculinity, and with a change in acceptance; men can rise to the challenge and be the best men possible. 

To be a man, we need to stand up to the false stigmas in our society, take a chance, and leap into being vulnerable.  As women have known for a long time, dealing with our feelings leads us to be a better spouse, parent, sibling, and friend.  It also gives us the opportunity to live a happier, healthier and longer life.  Let’s stop the false narrative that men are not allowed to talk about their thoughts and feelings.  Stop “Toughing it Out”, we will be better men when we “Talk it Out”.

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