The term “toxic masculinity” exists to encourage a conversation. As boys grow into men, they learn from family, friends, and society how to operate. By and large, this can be a very confusing process full of mixed messages, especially depending on one’s cultural background. As many men venture into adult relationships amidst their growing responsibilities, they often encounter emotions which they are unprepared to deal with. These powerful internal experiences can lead to unwanted behaviors that harm the relationships they worked so hard to build.
So how does a man learn to deal with these forces within?
One of the first issues is how being a man is defined. There may have been several implicit or explicit rules growing up. Our household may have taught us to stuff our feelings, or act them out. Our friends may have shown us how to treat other people, including women. And our culture may have reminded us of everything we are lacking.
The most courageous step we can take is speaking up — whether that means saying how we feel, apologizing for a behavior, or even asking someone for help.
“Rethinking masculinity is a lot like learning a new language. It’s difficult at first, and words can be hard to pronounce. It takes time and dedication and repetition and practice. It also takes conversations, especially uncomfortable ones, where we say the words we’re learning to say, even if we don’t quite know how to say them.” ~ Timothy J. Hillegonds
Sometimes men will find it difficult to process their emotional experiences with the people around them. In such seasons of life, it may be helpful to consider meeting with a mental health professional. At GROW Counseling, we have a variety of therapists who specialize in helping clients find healing, meaning, and perspective.
“There’s always something you can do with the mad you feel.” ~ Fred Rogers
Written by: Michael Kanner