Even though our society has made significant strides toward having healthier perceptions of gender roles and letting go of hurtful gender stereotypes, many negative perspectives still exist.
While we may initially think of gender roles as they pertain to women, many men also struggle with living up to what they see as society’s expectations for them and their lifestyles.
In this blog, our Seattle therapists highlight five common “Illusions of Manhood” that still plague our society and social circles and briefly discuss how to break away from them.
Five “Illusions” of Manhood and How They Affect Us
1. To be a man, you must operate without emotion.
Men are generally conditioned from a very early age not to feel. We tend to move from a feeling modality to thinking, trying to process everything from the head up, which causes dysfunction.
2. To be a man, you must gauge your manhood based on sexual conquests.
We often believe that the more people we sleep with, the more we validate ourselves. Sex becomes merely physical without the emotional and spiritual goals of love, intimacy, and connection.
3. To be a man, you must be wealthy and have many material possessions.
This illusion often drives our feelings of inadequacy. We wrongly believe that our role is to accrue monetary and material value, causing many negative behaviors.
4. To be a man, you must obtain status, position, and power.
If we have these things, we believe we are better than other men. Believing that we are our titles leads to feeling empty and meaningless.
5. To be a man, you must compete against other men and win at all costs.
While competition can be healthy, men often feel they must win against each other rather than support, encourage, and empower one another. Competition can strengthen us as men if we hold the other person in regard and want them to be their best as well.
For Therapists: How to Help Your Male Clients Dissolve These Illusions
If you are a professional men's counselor or sex counselor in Seattle, consider the following ways you can encourage your clients to have a healthier perspective:
1. Help them heal internal wounds, freeing them up not to need to protect themselves through accomplishments.
2. Help your male clients identify their true emotions, rather than allowing them to label the emotions of hurt, frustration, and fear as "anger" (our old standby emotion). With the emotions correctly identified, help your male clients connect with them.
3. Work with whatever deep sense(s) of inadequacy they harbor, reducing the drive to succeed in unhealthy ways.
4. Help them understand that it is okay, and sometimes necessary, to ask for help when they need it (which is often!).
5. Help them identify and work through grief in healthy ways. Make your clients understand that what you can't feel, you can't heal - that if we can feel it, we can release it.
6. Practice is essential for men to incorporate new learning, so help them to find and create opportunities for this.
For more information on address unhealthy "gender illusions," please call our Seattle therapists today at (206) 910-1218.