Men and therapy is an interesting debate. Men do go to therapists and coaches, of course they do. But my observation of the therapy industry that I have experienced is that most therapists are female, as are most clients. Men seem reluctant to come forwards. I wonder why?
Well, for a start men may believe that it’s seen as something that could be evidence that they are weak in some way, or that they have failed. Actually, it just shows that they are human. Men seem to be believe that they have to be strong all the time. That is hard to do, showing a strong front to the rest of the world and coping with all the rampaging conflict that is going on inside.
The problem with repressing that conflict is that it builds up. It’s like a dam waiting to burst. Also, when we repress negative emotion, we train the mind to repress all emotion, so we are also repressing happiness, joy, empathy, caring, compassion and so on. And it is only when the dam bursts, that some men start thinking about getting help.
The trouble is that when the dam bursts they may head straight into depression, or into physical illnesses such as ulcers, high blood pressure, even death.
In this alpha-male world of strong men, testosterone and pressure, men can be under huge emotional strain. Quite often men work in cultures of bullying and intimidation. Senior managers bully and shout at their under-managers, who do the same to their staff and so on. We seem to believe that stress produces results.
Some idiots even say ‘Pressure produces diamonds.’
NO! NO! NO!
Stress produces resistance, failure, absenteeism, illness, toxic workplaces, poor results, constant fire fighting, teams that self-destruct, loss of good staff, employment tribunal claims, burnout, broken marriages, alcoholism, anger, depression…
So while we wait for the world of work to wake up and realise that a happy workplace produces results without ANY need for stress, what can individual men do to cope and get through this?
Firstly, learn to meditate. There is nothing wrong with relaxing and doing nothing, meditation allows the mind not only to relax but also think differently, even solve problems. Regular meditation will give you emotional strength, and encourage creative and alternative thinking.
Exercise is always good for mind and body. Testosterone free if possible. Such as yoga, which also helps the mind enormously. Or walking the dog, playing football with friends and so on. Some men take the competitive workplace into their leisure time. That may be OK, but you also need balance. You need a place to go where all that can just drop away.
And there are many techniques to help with stress management. Not all of them are ‘woo-woo’. Some methods of reducing stress are learning how to control your boss, how to get on well with other people, how to make your communication with others more effective, how to build rapport and learn what motivates others so you can work well with them. There are many small and subtle skills that can be learned here.
So instead of going into work dreading the bully boss, the difficult staff, the tough customers, you can go into work knowing that you can control your boss, you can motivate and enthuse your staff and you can understand and deliver the needs of customers.
And if you need to, you also know how to relax and calm yourself AND also how to energise yourself for those important meetings.
In short, you get CONTROL. And that is pretty stress-free. It’s not ‘weak’ or ‘girlie’ to learn this sort of thing. In fact the most successful athletes, business people, politicians and so on have done just that.
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Just as a postscript to this, if therapy/mediation/yoga and so on is seen by men as ‘weak’ and ‘female’, just think what women have to cope with: periods and PMT, pregnancy, childbirth, bringing up the kids, working and still doing housework, lower wages, sexism, menopause…women are sensible, they know when they need support, relaxation, and so on. That’s not weakness, that’s just common sense.
I’m sure men are sensible too, aren’t we?