Updated: May 22, 2020
As men, we’re taught from an early age that “boys don’t cry.” Whether it’s a scraped knee or even the death of a loved one, we are instilled with the notion that to express our feelings is a sign of weakness. Though this stereotype has been slowly breaking down over time, it’s still prevalent in our society.
Boys are more emotionally expressive than girls
According to research from Harvard Medical School, boys are naturally more expressive than girls, beginning from early infancy. But because they grow up in a world that encourages them to hide or ignore their emotions, this can lead to long-term consequences such as addiction, violence, and depression. By not allowing males to experience their full range of emotions, they are being told not to be themselves. In the long-run, this means as men, we lose the ability to regulate our emotions, to deal with them in a healthy way because weren’t allowed to practice methods of doing so growing up. Need proof? More than six million men suffer from depression in the United States, and around 18 million American adults suffer have an anxiety disorder. And chances are if you’re reading this, you have trouble expressing your emotions in a healthy way as well.
What ignoring your feelings can do to you
Ignoring your feelings for long periods of time can lead to a number of mental and physical health conditions. Depression is one of the most common. Men experience depressive symptoms differently than women. Some of the signs you might be experiencing depression are:
● Withdrawing from family and friends
● Chronic physical pain, back pain
● Eating disorder
● Erectile dysfunction
● Inability to do daily chores or activities
● Showing rage and anger on the outside but feeling sad or angry on the inside
● Increased irritability or grumpiness
● Lack of focus
● Trouble sleeping
● Suicidal thoughts
● Lack of interest at work or in family life
Learn how to express yourself in a healthy way
Most men don’t like to go to the doctor, whether it’s for physical ailments or behavioral health. Most of us would do almost anything else, including scrubbing toilets and cleaning, than go to the doctor, according to a Cleveland Clinic survey.
But the fact of the matter is that if we don’t take care of ourselves, no matter what ails us, we will keep suffering.
Learning to put yourself first every once and while can start small. It starts with being proactive with self-care methods like the following:
● Work on naming the emotions you are feeling
● Start to journal how you are feeling
● Use a mood tracker app like Daylio
● Engage in healthy social activity, don’t isolate
● Find ways to work healthy foods into your diet
● Exercise for just 30 minutes a day, even if it’s just getting outside for a brisk walk
When it comes to our emotions, sometimes we have to seek help from others. A first good step is talking to a trusted friend about what you’re feeling. Another is making an appointment to see a therapist. When you seek the help of a counselor, you’ll learn tools to help you identify the feelings you’re feeling and how to practice dealing with them in a healthy way. This means, allowing yourself to feel anger, sadness, and even happiness. Then, learning how to talk about it.
Ready to take your first step in learning how to express your feelings in a healthy way?
Make an appointment with one of our qualified men’s counselors now.
Written by Stephen Rodgers, LCSW. Stephen Rodgers is a psychotherapist in private practice in Denver, Colorado. He specializes in Men, Trauma and Addictions. Stephen is a certified EMDR therapist and Approved Consultant. He is an advocate for Men and Mental Health. Stephen is the founder of Denver Men’s Therapy and Stephen Rodgers Counseling and Consulting. IG: rodgerscounseling FB: https://www.facebook.com/rodgerscounselingdenver/ https://denvermenstherapy.com/ https://rodgerscounseling.com/