I feel a lot of compassion for sensitive men in our society. We women and girls know how much we struggle but spare a thought for the sensitive guys out there who may have been conditioned to be ‘tough’ by fathers, brothers, teachers or other peers who have developed their own rigid defences and fears against vulnerability. We all know the saying “big boys don’t cry”, well WTF? Crying is actually a good thing when its necessary, helping us to release toxins as well as anger or sadness that when locked up inside could be damaging.
In Australia I believe the suicide rate for young men is much higher than for any other sector of the population. We have had campaigns over the past year including the one Silence is Deadly in recognition of how hard men can find it to talk about the important emotional issues that affect them.
In the purpose of raising public awareness here are some statistics :
- Alcohol abuse is 3 times higher in men. Alcohol addiction is about more than just ‘a fun night out with the boys’, its a solution many use to deal with depression or anxiety or loss.
- Four times as many men commit suicide.
- Disorders that are associated with a difficulty with dealing with emotions are twice as high for men. Due to the fact there is a myth in our society that men are more emotionally resilient (because they are forced to live up to the myth due to early conditioning and example from men around them), when the truth is men and boys are just as emotional as women and girls. The myth of the ‘tough guy’ blocks boys and men from feeling and expressing emotions except through acceptable ways and a lot of emotion gets subverted on the sports field or in rough housing games.
According to Joseph Nowinski, author of Hard To Love the myth of the tough guy actually does much to contribute to the development of personality disorders which involve emotional difficulties due to early wounding experiences and attachment difficulties which lead to these disorders.
So let us bear in mind the need our society has for less tough guys. Strength and emotional resiliency is one thing and is an ideal but the strongest of men are those who are not in flight from their emotions and dark side but prepared to do the work to feel and act from it in self empowering life enhancing rather than destructive defensive ways.