There has been a message that has been shared over and over again in our societies culture where men are told to not talk about their emotions. Growing up you see it happen in school, sports teams, and even the church. Men are told they need to learn to suppress or bottle up and not share their feelings because that is not the “manly” thing to do. Despite popular belief in these cultural messages, these kind of expectations on men everywhere may have very negative side-effects I’d like to uncover.
After years of being told men shouldn’t verbally express their feelings, we have boys who have now grown into men who have suppressed all their feelings for so long they now show signs of anxiety and depression. The unfortunate thing is that for many men anxiety and depression will manifest itself as inward or outward aggression towards themselves or others. A lot of times men feel shameful about being hurt because boys are told statements like “just get over it”, “suck it up”, or “boys are not supposed to cry”. These statements are the farthest from the truth and have the ability to hurt men the most.
So, let me say it here and now: Men, it is okay to cry, don’t just suck it up, and don’t just get over it. In fact, I encourage all of us men to have talks about what is going on. Consider why you are hurting or battling thoughts and feelings of anxiety or depression. Instead of bottling up our emotions and taking it out on ourselves, show yourself the kindness of taking stock by talking through what is going on.
It is not okay to beat yourself up over bottling up your emotions, and it is especially not okay to be physically or emotionally abusive towards others in your life as a result of unkempt emotions. If this is resonating with you at all, then please consider that it is time to seek out help. No one will look down on you, and you will not be judged. I have had clients in the past where the significant other will say statements like, “I just want him to be able to be more emotionally available,” “ I want him to talk to me more”, or “I wish we could just have deeper conversations”. It’s hard to transition from being told all your life what you are not allowed to be, to then being asked to share your emotions. It doesn’t feel natural, and it can cause a lot of pain not only to a man, but there significant others as well. The good news is everyone starts somewhere, and I hold the deep belief that people can change their behaviors for the better over time!
Experiencing Growth & Real Expression
If you feel like this post is resonating, or hitting a pressure point for you, then it may be time for you to reach out to a therapist. Support and professional help can ease the transition from being repressive to identifying and then gradually and healthily expressing what is going on with you. People in your life should belittle you for getting support, and the good thing about a counselor is they hold an objective place in your life that isn’t discriminating or judgmental. Being able to open up and speak about your feelings can not only transform your life, but it can lead to happier and healthier relationships, marriages, and families. Whether you are ready to make a change towards health, or if you feel like you just need a place to be able to talk where you will not be judged, feel open to giving me a call. I’d be honored to meet with any man brave enough to begin working through these things.
Written by therapist Alex Parlette
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