Updated: Mar 1, 2020
by: Logan Cohen - Professional Therapist & Online Life Coach
Do you feel like something is missing? Maybe you keep waking up for your 9 to 5 o’clock job so you can make sure those bills are paid, but there is still this emptiness? You used to have dreams for the future, but now it’s just a matter of counting the days until the weekend. You know it wasn’t supposed to be like this. How come you haven’t made it yet?
The idea of being successful for us Men is very closely associated with personal achievement outside of the Home that it is often mistaken as an indicator for life satisfaction. "I'll be happy when I get [insert job, car, house, Family here]." However in reality, this is just not something that translates realistically in day-to-day life.
Professional achievement is a real part of many stories, especially stories of Male conquest that we are socialized to views as the PINNACLE of what it means to truly “come of Age” into our Masculinity. In a similar way, our Female peers are socialized to perceive committed romantic partnership as the most important indicator of their coming fully into their Femininity.
From a very young age, us Men are socialized to compete with our peers in order to achieve status of being perceived as “The Best”. This leaves very little room for insecurity, fear, depending on Others, or asking for help. If we are being honest with Ourselves in considering this, we will notice that these ideas behind what is traditionally considered “success” for Men just does not seem achievable for most. After all, there can only be ONE “best”.
It is natural to be intimidated from even starting something that doesn’t seem possible. I mean...it’s not possible, so why even begin? This lack of perceived possibility regarding the practicality of a good outcome literally limits our life choices and inherent psychological development for Men.
Since we are taught to put so much emphasis on competing with our peers to “be the best”, we are not taught some basic aspects of living a fundamentally Balanced Life, as Human Beings were intended. These scripts continue to block us from accessing sufficient skill-sets throughout many contexts of our lives (behaviorally and psychologically) that could actually help us rediscover Balance and optimal health. This literally CREATES a systemic blocking of our ability to access personal resources in many parts of our lives - social, romantic, spiritual, hobbies, etc. Once we are blocked from accessing these internal resources as Men, we experience internal conflict that we are literally SET UP FOR by Modern Society.
Human Beings are literally programmed to experience a large variation among different aspects of Life, but Modern Society (sometimes covertly and sometimes overtly) gives us the impression that these are not completely ideal, or even OK for Men. In fact some (like the romantic, nurturing, creative) might make us look weak - or otherwise NOT “the best”.
Our chase for becoming “the Best”, rather than striving for “Balance”, has enormous negative impacts on the physical health of Men. Men are VASTLY over-represented in a variety of social and psychological issues that can be seen as a symptom of imbalance created by trying to convey a lack of weakness (think opposite of “best”). Young Boys have WAY higher rates of Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and other behavioral disorders compared to their Female peers, which are characterized as externalized behaviors. An externalized behavior is used to describe when an imbalance in health can be observed by behavioral features that are evident externally, such as those observed with kids that have ADHD and “behavioral disorders”. These are kids that tend to “act out”, rather than “talk out” their feelings in order to process them. In many cases, Young Boys are literally not taught to “talk about it”, so we “act about it”. In some cases, we are even encouraged (at least by our peers, observation of adults, and media examples) to “act about it”.
While this results in an increase of behavioral problems in school settings through Boyhood, Manhood is where it really starts to get scary. Men are over-represented in prisons and have a higher likelihood to commit violent crime, as well as be the victim of one.
With this being said, us Men do benefit from what is referred to as male privilege. Over the last few thousand years at the least, Men have been the institutional gatekeepers and with this, came inherent socio-economic advantages in virtually EVERY ethnic group. Given these clear advantages, it might surprise you to hear that the age adjusted death rate is at LEAST 40% higher for Men than Women.
What in the World is taking us Men out? It’s because we are socialized to be “the best” by any means necessary. We are taught to be more comfortable than Balance allows in a pro-social and tribal species to actively harm, and even destroy our fellow Man or even anything that gets in our way while we strive for independent influence in our environment. Unfortunately, this can continue until we view Loved Ones as a potential enemy and if this goes unchecked for too long, we will get the sneaking suspicion that we are the enemy Ourselves. And after you consider what is being shared here, can you blame us for losing trust in Ourselves?
White Men are 40% more likely to complete suicide than any other demographic...40% more likely! In a similar vein, Men of Color share similarly exaggerated statistics for externalizing behaviors that are punished criminally and viciously by our country’s privatized prison system.
We are taught that if we are going to be “the best”, then we should avoid asking for help and try to do as much on our own, or as independently as possible. The male socialization machine that teaches us to be independent also teaches us to minimize our problems and inherent perception of our vulnerabilities, which in turn makes it less likely for us Men to present for mental health treatment. When this aspect of male socialization is combined with the historical stigma around mental health “issues” being perceived as “weak”, us Men often run into a HARD STOP when it comes to seeking professional help.
Not only are We much less likely to present for needed mental health treatment, it is also common for Men to experience gender biases in talk-therapy ITSELF...even from PROFESSIONALS! While Men are FOUR TIMES more likely to die by suicide than Women, we are actually less likely to be diagnosed with an “internalizing disorder”, such as Anxiety and/or Depression. It might not surprise you to hear that in the cases where suicide is completed, the person who loses their life has Depression which has not received adequate care in 80% of those cases.
Why are Men so UNDER-DIAGNOSED with Depression, while when they ARE going to a healthcare professional, they are FOUR TIMES MORE LIKELY to literally self destruct and die as a result of suicide?
Again, this happens because We are taught to believe that We can’t be “the best” or even good enough unless We can also look the toughest and unfortunately, many of us Men have been taught that someone who is openly expressing symptoms of Anxiety and/or Depression cannot look tough. This is a SERIOUS, even potentially FATAL dilemma. On top of this, Men are actively taught TO externalize emotional distress (“go punch a pillow!”), which makes us more likely to be diagnosed with externalizing disorders (substance use, personality disorders, conduct disorder).
It is LITERALLY a set up! But it doesn’t have to be this way!
"The best time to plant a tree was twenty years ago, but the next best time is now." - Chinese Proverb
My name is Logan Cohen and I am a Professional Therapist & Life Coach with over 10 years in the field of Counseling Psychology. I am a Clinical Supervisor for the American Association of Marriage & Family Therapy, as well as the founder of New Leaf Counseling Group, LLC in Charlotte, NC. After spending tens of thousands of clinical hours with my own clients, starting a successful group practice, as well as a beautiful Family, I “picked my head up from the grindstone” to check in on childhood Friends & Loved Ones.
I painfully discovered that more than a few of my childhood Friends passed away at a young age from preventable health conditions and decided that as a Man, Husband, Father, and Friend, I could no longer stand by as People suffered in silence and self-destructed rather than ask for help. It doesn’t have to be like that and the holistic healing methods offered by the Balanced Man Plan is designed to help People “get unstuck” and break free from old patterns that are the barriers between Self & quality of Life.
The Balanced Man Plan is a therapeutic digital experience delivered through Self-Guided Coaching Plans created by a Male Therapist with the common barriers & strengths of Men in mind. The Balanced Man Plan has the goal of introducing a natural Balance back to Life so it is sustainable for the optimal Health & Well-Being of Self and Loved Ones - and ALL from the privacy and comfort of Home. If you have enjoyed what you see so far, check out our Self Guided Coaching Plans!