Understanding Masculinity and Emotions – Part One

In today’s blog, we are discussing how American society interprets emotions and masculinity together, and we’ll be providing some tools that can help you explore it more on your own as well. As part one in this series, it is important to begin by distinguishing the difference between masculinity and toxic masculinity.

Masculinity is a natural and biological quality associated with men, which includes synonyms such as vigor, strength, testosterone, and manliness. Toxic masculinity is performance-invented to reinforce masculinity, which can be detrimental and limiting to the emotional range of men. Toxic masculinity typically only allows the emotion of anger to be acceptable, which leaves out a range of emotions from sadness to happiness, and anything in between.

If you Google the word “emotion,” you’ll see a definition as “a natural instinctive state of mind deriving from one’s circumstances, mood, or relationships with others.” Basically, emotions are natural and necessary messages that tell us what we need. For instance, if someone breaks your trust, you might feel sad, angry, or hurt, which can send you the message that you might need a heartfelt apology, or potentially separation from the person.

Men who restrict their emotions can prevent these messages from being received, which can disrupt communication in relationships, or limit understanding of themselves. This can cause mild to severe depression, anger issues, and even suicidal thoughts. To gain more understanding on this topic I recommend watching the documentary titled The Mask You Live In. (You can also read more in our previous blog series, “How to Be a Man: Messages on Masculinity” that took a deep dive into the documentary here!)

In the next segment, we’ll discuss more of how early childhood messages of emotion affect men, and how to know when it’s time to ask for help. At GROW counseling, we have a team of therapists who would be willing to help men understand the messages that they received (or continue to receive) about emotions while growing up from well-intended family and friends, or even media messages that may have limited their emotional range.

Written by: Jasmine Tyson

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