Updated: Sep 18
By: Logan Cohen, Professional Therapist & Online Life Coach - Balanced Man Plan
Toxic masculinity is the phrase used to describe the standard collection of cultural expectations we have for Men in our Society (Western Culture) that are, well – “toxic”
As a Professional Therapist and Online Life Coach who also happens to be a Man, I hated the APA’s new name for how it labeled my gender personally, and could only imagine how my clients would respond to this body of research and the name it was given...toxic masculinity...
First, there are so many wonderful, awesome, and amazing things about being a Man. I have generally enjoyed my experience of Manhood, and especially in a country that is better off than many other impoverished places around the World.
And to make matters easier, I haven’t had to think about the implications of giving birth – couldn’t even imagine that one and frankly, you Ladies can keep that whole experience!
Since we aren’t the gender dedicated to childbirth, we have been given pretty amazing physical bodies in terms of performance in comparison to the female sex.
Yes, Women can create Life and all, but through the years when it is time to go to War with the neighboring Tribe - or when the antelope are herding through the savannah, us Men have been throwing down for thousands of years and the athletic potential of our bodies are proof of this.
Barring a few exceptions, Men are physically faster and stronger relative to Women as a whole. If you have been paying attention to professional sports recently, then you have been watching young phenom baseball players or Lineman that are both BIGGER and FASTER than they have ever been in history.
You can learn more about about these differences and how they impact Men versus Women in our Physical Health Self-Guided Coaching Plan.
Another awesome part of being a Man is our potential for connection. Us Men are often told that we are “not naturally as emotional“ or that we “don’t need relationships” as much as Women do.
I want to tell you here as a seasoned Professional Therapist and Online Life Coach – that is complete BS!
For as much as we are told that Men don’t naturally “do that mushy stuff”, Men are actually just as capable of developing as strong a connection with Loved Ones as Women.
When us Men are connected to fMRI imaging that can literally read the intensity of our brain waves while we are actively engaged with our Loved Ones in research studies, findings show that Men can connect JUST as well as WOMEN.
These same research studies show that we also get all of the associated health benefits of satisfying our needs for Love & Belonging that our Female peers do, such as improved immune and digestive function, as well as lowered stress levels.
Last, but certainly not least – is our allowance of independence as Men in our society. I really appreciate my sense of independence as a Man .
As a Professional in the Workforce who is also a Man, I can dedicate an incredible amount of energy to my professional life, especially in comparison to my Wife who put her own on hold in order to have our Child.
She allowed me priority to develop myself professionally early on because I had more earning potential at the time to support our young family as a financial provider.
Through the years, I have developed into the primary provider for my Family and in doing so, I have started other entrepreneurial projects (like New Leaf Counseling Group in Charlotte, NC) that allow me to not only continue providing for my Family, but also stay true to my own Balance of Self-Identity & Life's Purpose by following my passions in Counseling Psychology to improve Life a bit each day for my fellow Man (and Woman of course).
This has all required an intensive development of problem-solving skills that I get to make a part of my everyday Life and also have the opportunity to continue sharpening throughout the rest of my days.
All of these cultural expectations and resulting Life decisions have served myself and my Family well. Many aspects of this independence, toughness & problem solving have worked out beautifully. So…what is the big deal?
Can YOU see this "toxic masculinity" that is such a problem that it could be part of a male suicide epidemic? If you can’t, then that is in line with views of the Average American these days.
If you would like to see what exactly is meant by "toxic masculinity", why the phrase is poorly chosen, and how unhelpful elements around traditional manhood can and DO play out DANGEROUSLY for Men every day whether we know it or not - then you are in the right place.
The Ways Toxic Masculinity Sets Up Male Suicide:
#1 Way Toxic Masculinity Sets Up Male Suicide - Independence Overload
Men are Taught Independence to the degree of self-negligence. Remember that old joke that Women commonly make about Men and our avoidance of asking for directions while driving around in a vehicle?
That joke/observation might be a thing of the past to those of you born after 2000 and have always relied on GPS navigation, but if you are born before 2000, you should be fairly familiar with that example of a cultural expectation.
This “load bearing wall” of traditional manhood in terms of independence is great and all, but is is often taken to extremes in that we should not only be independent, but able to handle whatever Life throws at us on our own.
The avoidance of asking for help to appear confident extends to SO many areas of every day life in Modern Society that it might be helpful to hear a few common examples from my work as a Professional Therapist and Online Life Coach.
I have worked with many Men in private practice who have had SUCH a difficult time asking for help, or even admitting they need it to begin with, that it breaks up their Marriages, pulls them towards high risk behavior such as drug/alcohol use and/or infidelity, and can even result in things becoming dangerous.
As time goes on and us Men continue practicing life habits that are NOT working for us and Loved Ones around us, we oftentimes just grow worse – drifting deeper into isolation until we lose touch completely.
As a result, many Men are taught that our sense of Self-Identity will be disrupted if we were to ask for help. If this Area of Life has gotten you stuck before, then it might be time to go ahead and dig in to our Identity Self-Guided Coaching Plan.
The Ways Toxic Masculinity Sets Up Male Suicide:
#2 Way Toxic Masculinity Sets Up Male Suicide - Tougher Than Hu(Man)
Another cornerstone of Traditional Manhood is “emotional stoicism”. Stoicism is from the root word stoic, which means, “a person who can endure pain or hardship without showing their feelings or complaining”.
This expectation of behavior from traditional manhood is one of those “old goodies” from Western European (and especially British) culture that is designed to be a display of strength.
If you can imagine for one moment a Fellow dressed in a long-tailed jacket with a cane and top hat saying, “Wipe that frown upside down and keep on – carry on Old Chap!”, that is what we are talking about here. It might seem quite harmless and even supportive in the moment.
After all - what "Real Man" -especially a Husband and/or Father - wants their Loved Ones to see them sulking in defeat – looking pitiful and WEAK... This is what we are told will happen as Boys!
Or even worse – a potential enemy that might be looking for an opportunity to take advantage of our perceived weakness so they can make their move and gain a competitive advantage.
How are we supposed to protect ourselves and our Loved Ones THEN? By appearing stoic, Men are intending to show that we are "enduring pain or hardship” so well that, well, it must NOT even be pain or hardship at ALL because we are just - that - tough.
If communicating emotional experiences has been difficult in the past, our Emotional Intelligence Self-Guided Coaching Plan is designed to support you in "getting grounded" and using your emotional experiences as a Human Being is designed to be happiest and healthiest.
These are just a few concepts around traditional manhood that can get us in sticky situations with our own Health. If you are interested in a more FULL breakdown of these concepts, then you might want to check out another free blog.
Throughout our blogs, you will find a lot more information about the specifics of these values, usually hidden in plain sight, so you can get all of those Areas of Life in Balance on your own time. For now in this article, let’s go ahead and get to how the two originally beautiful, but oftentimes bastardized qualities of independence and strength associated with traditional manhood are either our best friends through Balance, or our worst enemies through perpetuating instability.
At this point in the article it is probably not hard to imagine why as a Professional Therapist and Online Life Coach, I see Men every day who struggle with variations of the above life forces setting us up for failure with our own Health - even Male Suicide.
While Women often present with Depression symptoms that Therapists and Counselors are trained to recognize, Men tend to present with irritability and anger, which often goes missed by Life Coaches, Professional Therapists, and other Health providers alike. And why do you think we present with irritability, anger, and even aggression when us Men are feeling hurt, scared, or insecure? It goes right back to our teachings of toughness.
Are you ready to get to work from the privacy and re-build a sense of self identity that is NOT built around "toxic masculinity?" If so, check out our Identity Self-Guided Coaching Plan.
In addition to the mission of the Balanced Man Plan to do our part in suicide prevention, we are also going to literally put our money where our mouth is.
20% of all proceeds from The Balanced Man Plan will be donated directly to the American Foundation For Suicide Prevention – so you’re investment in your own Health and Well-Being through Balance will continue to “pay it forward” for People who are struggling with suicidal thoughts and behavior, as well as with therapeutic services for the survivors left behind after suicide.
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!