“No way! I don’t need to talk to anyone. That’s for boys. I’m a man. I can handle my own problems. That’s for weak-minded people. I am strong. I don’t need anyone to tell me what to do. People that see a counselor are crazy…sick… I’m not crazy and I’m not sick.”
If so, then this article is for you!
Most people look outside of themselves for their definition of what it means to be a Man. Usually, the definition comes from what society says or how other men you know act and think. Based on that, you may look inward and reflect on yourself, but when it comes to seeing a counselor, the stereotypes society holds against you as a man, which include:
- Being strong;
- Not showing emotion/crying;
- Not needing to ask others for help/advice because you “should know everything;”
don’t exist. In a counselor’s office, you can leave those thoughts, assumptions, expectations, stereotypes and standards at the door.
Going to see a counselor is sort of a paradox, which is a contradiction in terms. In your mind, you may think going to see a counselor to seek help is a sign of weakness, which makes you feel small like a mouse. Instead, it’s actually a sign of strength. It takes a strong person to put aside their ego, step outside their comfort zone, accept their limitations and ask for help. It shows strength to acknowledge your challenges and put forth effort to work on them so that you can live life feeling:
- Stronger (rather than an illusion of strength);
- More capable;
- More empowered;
- Healthier; and
- Constructive rather than destructive.
When I work with male patients, I normalize the discomfort of coming in to share their feelings and ask for help. I guide them to understand that it is hard to exist in a world where stereotypes, other men’s perceptions, or even women’s perceptions of how a man should be dictate your every thought or move. I help them to realize that as a man you don’t have to feel shackled by society’s or anyone else’s stereotype/perception. My hope is that eventually the feelings experienced in my office, of knowing it’s okay not to be strong, not to know everything, and to feel sad and cry, can exist in your world outside the therapy office.
The next time you feel, or someone you know suggests, you need help, take a chance and make an appointment to talk to a counselor. Life is already not going as you would like, so you have nothing to lose. You only have something to gain by trying to see what new perspectives talking to a counselor can open up in your life.
Don’t let society’s stereotypes keep you from having the future or living the life you deserve. Don’t be afraid to be the “weak mouse” so you can be a “stronger man.”
Dr. Christine Spence, PsyD
CBT Psychological Associates
2171 Jericho Turnpike, Suite 345
Commack, NY. 11725