When it comes to expressing emotions, there are different expectations when it comes to men versus women. Most of the time, women are viewed as “sensitive” so it’s socially acceptable for a woman to express her sadness. But men, who are viewed as courageous and strong, are not encouraged to outwardly express their emotions.
These cultural norms and stereotypes have been circulating around for generations, and the lasting effects they have can be toxic, especially for men. Men who do show their emotions are usually viewed as weak, because of that, many men repress their emotions because they’re afraid of seeming weak and not manly. However, suppressing emotions can be so detrimental to anyone’s mental health.
The Consequences of Emotional Avoidance:
Part of what makes us human is our ability to feel our emotions and process our emotions. Without processing the way we feel, we allow ourselves to build up our emotions within us which can result in anger, trauma and other mental health disorders. Suppressing emotions can lead to anxiety and even depression, and with the stigma around men and their emotions, not allowing a man to be vulnerable and open about the way he feels can lead him down a dark path.
Studies show that for men, being told to “man up” or “act like a man” is something that they learn and hear from a very young age and it remains with them into adulthood. Overtime, men get really good at avoiding their emotions, or coping with their emotions is a more acceptable way for males. It creates what most would describe as toxic masculinity, which can be hard to break once it becomes a habit.
Learning To Be Vulnerable:
Learning how to be vulnerable with your emotions is not something easy and usually very hard to do once you’ve been in a habit of suppressing how you feel all the time. However, there are ways around this that may seem out of someone's comfort zone, but the only way to grow is to be put in situations that make you uncomfortable to do what you need to do for yourself and your mental health.
2. Find therapeutic hobbies
This is something not only men should be but everyone should try. Bringing new activities into your life that create excitement and joy is one way to feel like you’re connecting with yourself more. Cooking, exercise, art, and music are just some examples of things you can do for yourself to get mentally healthy, even going for a walk every day can help structure you into a healthier daily routine.