Men commonly feel lost and uncertain about the way life is going. But men also keep that to themselves. Ask yourself, do you have a undercurrent of anxiety or depression? Do you feel like you are secretly dealing with life alone, with no one to talk to? Are you afraid to admit to yourself, your wife, or others that you are failing to live up to your potential? If any of these are true for you, then I would tell you, your a man and that’s the secret we all keep. We are conditioned to fear failure, or the appearance of failure, and it nags at us in the depths of our minds.
Traditionally men resist seeking out help, especially counseling. As a man, I know it doesn’t feel “manly” to ask for help. The fear of looking less than triumphant is so strong that, as the old jokes go, we men will not even ask for directions when lost.
Most of my male clients admit to having felt lost for some time in their lives, marriages, careers, or in modeling for their kids. But they have not been able to ask for directions.
There are many secret fears that men would seek help for if only they knew that they could do it without being judges as failures or as inadequate. In the 21st century world, the biggest is feelings of inadequacy, insecurity, and failure. Such feelings drive behaviors that for most men become addictive: workaholic, alcoholism, drug abuse, porn addiction, sexual addictions, thrill seeking, obsessive hobbies, parties, anger…the list is extensive.
Why is this?
From a young age, men are taught rigid masculinity – that is to be strong and to keep their emotions in check. This often leads to many men feeling isolated, anxious and depressed. The very emotions they should seek help for, they stuff down and “go it alone.” Bearing their emotional pain seems a better idea than opening themselves up to the stigma of seeking therapy. As a result, there is a compensatory reaction of self-indulgence that seeks to sooth and reward the tortured soul. As the levels of serotonin decrease in the brain, dissatisfaction results. The mind seeks relief through the reward system. Dopamine rewards risk and new experiences, Oxytocin rewards sexual acting out. For the moment potency is felt and relief is won. But that moment quickly fades, and isolation returns.
This cycle is at the root of most of the issues that drive men into counseling, often at the behest of their wives. The answer is not therapy, it is found in education and coaching. Men do very well when they learn the mechanics of a problem and are coached to develop and master new skills. My personal approach is educative coaching for men to help them resolve their struggles in the way men understand best–master the demands and defeat the opposition!
What are some of those most common issues plaguing men?
- Addictions – Men are far more likely to abuse alcohol, pornography, and drugs. This attempt to escape reality destroys many men and their relationships.
- Relationship issues – Studies have shown that men rely more on their partners for emotional support than women do. This can make relationship problems particularly hard to deal with since it deepens the fear of isolation and failure.
- Parenting Challenges – Fatherhood can become a real challenge since many men never had great fathers to lead the way into manhood to begin with. It is hard to give your children what you didn’t first receive.
- Economic Presure – In an endless cycle of economic uncertainty, men are anxiously holding on for some answer. Men comonly tie their self worth their career and abiltiy to make money.
- Social Ambiguity and Bullying – Many young men are victims of bullying, damaging their self-esteem, adult men are culturally bullied into believing myths about men that are not true, further diminishing their self view and value. Men have become unsure of what it means to be a man any longer.
- Minimizing – Do to conditioning and social stigmatization, most men refuse or fail to see their own emotional pain. When pushed down and bottled up pain and trauma can lead to manifestations of physical disease or illness, such as high blood pressure or heart disease.
Men learn best from men. It takes men to raise up men. It takes a man to call out manhood in a man. If you are a man who struggles in life at any level, it’s time to find a man to mentor you out of the pain and regain your place in your own self-esteem, your life, your relationships, and your family.