There are distinct expectations for men and women when it comes to processing emotions. It’s socially acceptable for women to express their emotions, such as grief or anxiety, because they are frequently seen as “sensitive.” However, men, who are viewed as powerful and courageous, are discouraged from showing their emotions in public. The state of vulnerability has to be attained in order to be truly be able to express your feelings.
These cultural standards and gender stereotypes have persisted for many years and can be harmful, particularly to men. Men who communicate their feelings are frequently viewed as being weak. Because of this, many men are terrified of the consequences and choose not to express their emotions. However, a man’s mental health can be seriously harmed by concealing emotions and sensations.
Why do men keep their feelings secret?
There is little doubt that women are more prone than men to expressing their feelings. Men are socialised from an early age to believe that showing any emotion goes against the grain of being a man. They risk losing their reputation as a stoic, tough person. Men are specifically made to believe that sobbing in public will undermine their masculinity.
Regarding mental health, the same can be true. According to statistics, women are more likely to be given a depression or anxiety diagnosis. However, men experience mental illness and distress as well. Over 30% of men will go through a depressive episode at some point in their lives, and 9% of men say they have daily depressive or anxious symptoms.
Men are advised to keep their feelings to themselves, but that doesn’t imply they are emotionless. According to research, men and women both experience emotions to the same extent. But because it’s seen as a taboo for a man to cry when he’s upset, it can give the impression that men don’t ever feel sad.
In actuality, males who experience loss or grief are more likely to transform those emotions into other, more socially acceptable ones. For instance, a male who is depressed or melancholic may be less likely to cry and more likely to act aggressively or become furious over petty things.
Even when a different feeling is driving the behaviour, dominance- or strength-related emotions are seen as more of a male caricature. However, those feelings must go somewhere when men are told to keep their emotions to themselves at all costs. They usually make up for it by acting more stereotypically masculine.
The Effects of Avoiding Emotions
Our ability to process emotions and feel sentiments is a key component of what makes us human.We want to smile and exhibit joy when we’re happy. Our bodies tense up and our voices become louder when we’re upset. We all instinctively want to cry when we’re upset.
Avoiding those feelings can have a lot of negative effects, including mental health concerns. Suppressing feelings can result in melancholy and anxiety, but it can also raise a person’s risk of suicide, particularly for men. Suicide is significantly more common among men than it is among women. In 2018, approximately 3.56 times as many men as compared to women committed suicide.
Men pick up the advice to “man up” or “act like a man” when they are young, and they carry that advice to the grave. Over time, guys become quite adept at suppressing their emotions or dealing with them in a way that is more appropriate for men. It starts a loop of toxic masculinity that can be challenging to break once it becomes ingrained.
How Men Can Face Vulnerability
Men must learn to be in a state of vulnerability and free in expressing their emotions if they are to find a solution to this problem.This is often easier said than done, though. Men may find it challenging to feel comfortable expressing their feelings, particularly if they have spent their entire lives hiding them. Here are a few ways men might start opening up more about their feelings:
Tell the truth about how you’re feeling.
Being open about your emotions is necessary for being in a state of vulnerability. Men frequently suppress any hint of melancholy or grief when they first feel it. You must acknowledge and feel your feelings if you want to talk openly about them. Become aware of how you’re feeling and try to determine what is causing it. You should feel free to express your feelings however you see fit.
Discover therapeutic pursuits
A good strategy to engage your emotions is to find hobbies that allow you to consider your sentiments. One man with anxiety and chronic depression discovered that taking his dog for walks always made him feel better. He finally founded “Dudes & Dogs”, a group that encourages men to get together in the great outdoors and have genuine conversations, frequently concerning mental health. Cooking, working out, creating art, and listening to music are more examples of soothing activities.
Compared to women, men are less likely to visit a therapist. The negative stigma associated with men and mental health is partly to blame for this. However, one of the best methods for guys to learn to talk about their emotions openly is through visiting a therapist. Men can be in a state of vulnerability in therapy without the fear of criticism from others. It can assist you in developing healthier and more effective coping mechanisms for dealing with your emotions and feelings.
It could be time to get assistance if you’re experiencing mental health distress. Early intervention can prevent a minor issue from later developing into a more significant mental health disorder.
We at BFH, help you to understand that no gender should work according to pre existing societal norms. And when we talk about men, we usually don’t consider these norms problematic. But they are. And that’s how we say, “Vulnerability is the new strong!”