January 10, 2017
The Myth of Macho
I work with very intense young men. They are athletes who have often been bullies. They are depressed, unsure of themselves and struggle socially. They are habitually deceptive. They have often bought in to the temporary but incredible relief of substance abuse. All of these young men have much in common. Among those commonalities is their unhealthy relationship with young women.
They are products of a society that hasn't historically valued women (e.g. Being denied the vote in America for many years, the low number of women in political leadership positions, current wage discrepancies) and a society that objectifies women as well as defines emotions as feminine and weak. This devaluing of emotions is a key contributor in boys suppressing and disregarding key parts of self. It leaves boys and men fragmented and unable to process important normal emotional experiences like sadness, anxiety and joy. It leaves them more susceptible to anger problems, substance abuse and chronic deception.
In Second Nature's Group One, we address this issue constantly. Our young men are regularly challenging old core beliefs about the many negative attributions towards females. We discuss new healthy ways of being a man (the opposite of societal norms of being disconnected and aggressive). Ultimately our boys shift from precious denial, deception, and aggression to valuing openness and honesty. They learn to value emotional awareness and begin to apply the benefits in relationships. It is through the peace of nature, directed therapies and a lot of hard work that they are able to achieve these shifts. They become more connected with others and reconnect with important parts of themselves.
It is a privilege and gift to be a part of this critical shift in their lives. After 19 years, they continue to inspire me.