How to Deal with Feeling Inferior

Along with powerlessness, feeling inferior is one of the most difficult experiences a man can have. When you deal directly with feeling inferior, this rips off any facade or structure that you have built to convince others of the opposite impression – that you’re powerful, competent and in charge. In other words, you don’t have to work at showing the world you’re something you’re not, if you feel inferior.

Most people feel inferior to some degree or another at times, and some people feel inherently inferior all their lives. Yet many of us work so hard to posture and build an identity to reject feeling that way. We try to run far away from feeling inferior, usually by gaining wealth and status or trying to become important in one way or another in the world. We try to create a persona of someone we want to be, or someone we’re not, to fight against the feelings we hold so deeply within us.

I think it’s harder for men, because as men, we’ve grown up and been socialized by so many institutions and media to be in charge and be in control. There is no room for feeling inferior in our modern culture, yet intimate relationships have evolved to demand our vulnerability as men. It’s a Catch-22: culture says be strong, but relationships say talk out feelings and be vulnerable. What’s a guy to do without going insane?

In my opinion, it’s OK to feel inferior. It won’t make you less of a man to feel inferior. You may think that others will reject you, including your wife or partner, if you open up and talk about feeling inferior or be vulnerable to any degree. If you are with the right person, that’s probably not true and won’t happen. If you’re with the wrong person, your mate will expect you continue to conform to all the false demands our culture has put on us: to always be strong and bulletproof, and show no weakness.

When we try to be “strong men,” what does that actually mean to you? Does it mean being a stoic rock, or not showing weakness to others? Does it mean playing the “part” of the man? How much do you conform to the rigid stereotypes that media and culture manufacture for men?

Thinking about and challenging what you know about feeling inferior is important to being able to eventually incorporate it, not fear it and start to accept it. It’s a natural and (sometimes) inevitable part of our experience, and the more you can get used to it, the better chance you’ll be giving yourself of not making unwise decisions to avoid feeling inferior.

How can you deal with feeling inferior?

  • Challenge what it means to “be a man” and to be strong all the time
  • Communicate your inferiority to yourself, and someone you trust, like your wife or girlfriend
  • Journal about feeing inferior: use a dedicated journal to write about your inferiority
  • Seek out professional counseling to help you further understand your inferiority, and to work through it
  • Understand it’s origins, by looking at your early childhood and growing up in your family of origin
  • Make friends with it, and don’t run away from it: accept it as it is
  • Try to not “overcompensate” for it, by trying to prove how superior you are or how competent you are to others. People see through other people when they’re not transparent, and are acting out a role
  • Know that other guys like you are feeling the exact same things as you are, and that you’re not alone with your inferiority
  • Ask yourself: “what’s the worst that can happen if I feel these feelings?”
  • Play out in your mind the worst-case scenarios, and figure out who would see you as lesser-than or reject you for being inferior. Ask yourself how you give them so much power over you.
  • See if you make decisions against feeling inferior. Understand what the consequences of those decisions have been for you

Feeling inferior is a part of the human experience; it’s not a bad feeling that requires you compartmentalize your feeling and run away from it. The better you can get to know when you feel inferior, the more likely you can open up your relationships in a deeper way – including your intimate relationship – and the less likely you’ll be making poor decisions because you’re avoiding feeling inferior.

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Is There Any Extra Space In Your Life?

 

When it seems like your life is packed with chores, obligations, work, and responsibilities, is there any room to breathe, let alone experience the benefit of having extra space or time for yourself?

Whoever you are, I think the practice of making regular space in our busy lives allows us a lot of opportunity for personal growth. It helps us take care of ourselves by just making it a habit to think about ourselves and prioritize ourselves. Making extra space in our lives – on a continual basis – allows us to replenish and get present to ourselves and what’s around us, after being caught up in the treadmill of life.

What do I do with more space? 

  • Time to think
  • Take a walk, hike, or exercise
  • Learn something new, like a foreign language or a new hobby
  • Call someone close whom you’ve neglected
  • Have fun
  • Breathe
  • Read
  • Do nothing
  • Time to do something good for yourself, like take yourself out to eat or get a massage
  • Sleep in
  • Spend time with your child or spouse
  • Relax without doing anything

This could go wrong if you over prioritize yourself. A lot of couples that I speak with tell me that their guy thinks too much about himself, and plans time or activities more for himself than for his family or marriage/relationship. I think the way to best handle this is to create balance, and not get so caught up in taking care of yourself – or thinking about yourself – that other things and people go by the wayside. The point here is not to neglect your responsibilities and the people that depend on you; in fact, it’s to become more available to them  when you have more in your tank to give to them.

A lot of people don’t know why they pack their lives to the hilt. Often, there are psychological or emotional reasons behind why we have to stay so busy, in spite of the real need to get things done or bring in a paycheck. Sometimes, we keep ourselves busy to distract ourselves away from a bad situation in our lives, or to avoid negative emotions that we would have to face if we stopped and stood still for a minute. Consider that if you’re packing your life with so much busyness, and ask yourself why. You may be running from something that is unconscious and that needs to be attended to so that you can create more space in your life.

Some people need to be “extremely busy,” because it gives them a sense of peace or a sense of identity. If I’m “that busy guy,” I might get affirmation or praise from people who I care about what they think about me. I may see myself as important or special if I’m so busy. I think we, as Americans, pride ourselves on being “busy,” and congratulate ourselves by being so “busy,” “productive,” and “important.” What would happen if we cut back on what makes us so busy? Would we lose those feelings that we get from staying so chained to our schedules and obligations? Who would we find if we are forced to face our “non-busy” selves?

I think money is also important in this conversation, because may times, we’ve obligated ourselves financially to our cars, houses, trips, and other expenses that we may not be able to afford, which strips us of our time, mental well being and ability to carve extra space out in our lives. Ask yourself: can I afford to cut back on things that may be draining my ability to create more space in my life? How can I cut back on expenses to be able to free myself of more time for space in my life? Time is directly related to money, and by “interrogating” your finances, you may see that you’re losing valuable time you could be creating because you’re too busy paying for things you don’t want or need.

How to create more space:

  1. Carve out a chunk of time (1 hour, 2 hours, etc.) for just you to do whatever you want on a regular scheduled basis.
  2. This is not time to do errands, pay bills, or to obligate yourself to things that you should/need/ought to do. It’s time to relax and create space for yourself.
  3. Communicate your intentions for making space or time to those that need to know – don’t just do it without letting your spouse or family know what you’re doing. They may need to plan around your planned time for yourself.
  4. Make this a regular habit. Plan on doing this on a schedule, like once a week, every two weeks, or once a month. If you don’t plan it, it may not happen.
  5. Assess, and see what the results are. What did you learn from the experience of creating more space for yourself? How did it benefit you to do this? Process the experience and develop self-awareness to identify the benefits of creating space for yourself.

Creating space is essential for when things in life get busy. When marriage, family and career arrive, those things usually get prioritized, and we can lose ourselves in the day-to-day aspects of those roles. By creating extra space for ourselves, we keep ourselves a priority and replenish ourselves so that we can be the best we can for ourselves and others in our lives.

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Creating and Keeping Male Friendships

Do you have solid male friendships in your life right now? Do you have other guys in your life you can call and hang out with, and enjoy being together with? Are you one of those guys who’s had a hard time keeping friendships going, either because life has happened or you’ve gotten too busy?

I think male friendships are valuable and necessary for a varied and meaningful life. Good friendships can provide support, brotherly love, masculine energy, common interests, reliability and happiness for a lifetime. They are an antidote to loneliness, stress and depression, and can meet your needs in a way that a marriage or intimate relationship might not. Marriages or intimate relationships can meet a lot of needs, but not all of them, and male friendships can fill in those gaps to create a complete life for yourself.

Male friendships take work and investment. They don’t just come to you – you also need to go to them. If you want friendships that last, the relationships require that you put yourself out there to make the effort of keeping the relationships going, by making the calls, setting the plans and doing the groundwork needed to keep them up. They demand you be there and “show up” by being present, and not be withdrawn or aloof, as well as not too needy in them where it’s one-sided.

A lot of men don’t want to put themselves out there, especially to make new friendships, because they’re afraid of rejection. They don’t want to be seen as not being wanted, not having enough to contribute to a friendship or being deficient in ways that they won’t be acceptable for. On the flip side, some guys have too high of expectations for others, which can translate into other guys not being good enough for them, which can create isolation and loneliness.

To make new male friendships can be hard, especially when you don’t have other men around you that you would necessarily hang out with. Without the comforts of college, work or another structure, it can be hard to find easy access to new male friendships. When career, family and life start up, the time and availability factors make it harder to meet new people and continue to connect with them on a regular basis. That’s why it takes a little extra work when your a working guy, married guy, or family guy – or all three – if you want a new male friendship, or to keep old ones going.

Laziness is also a friendship-buster. If you’re lazy, and don’t really want to do the work that is needed to keep a friendship going, you’re putting the expectation on the other person or people to do all of the heavy lifting involved to keep the relationship going. Then, it’s only one sided, and one-sided relationships can only go so far and only have so much shelf-life. People get tired and friendships burn out without both of you working towards it.

Making excuses is also another factor in squashing male friendships. Statements like, “I’m too busy,” or “I don’t have the time for anyone else,” may be true, but it depends on how bad you want make friendships. Do you really want them in your life? What are you willing to do to make them happen for yourself?

Here are some thoughts about how to go about and what to think about when increasing your male friendships.

What can you do to increase or improve your male friendships on a regular basis?

  • See what you want or need: do you actually want more time with friends? Do you want more male friendships in your life? What are you actually needing, and what are you willing to do about it?
  • Know who you want, and who you don’t want: not everyone you meet will fit the bill. Also, you may have outgrown other friendships, so see if there is still enough there for you to maintain the friendship. Sometimes, friendships change for the worse, and you can outgrow them, so know if it’s still worth the time and energy invested to keep old ones going.
  • Take a risk: put yourself out there and take a risk to meet new people, or reconnect with old friends.
  • Challenge your barriers: laziness, fear of rejection, inadequacy or other barriers can get in the way of you taking the step to keep friendships going. See what’s getting in your way and do something about it. Challenge yourself and your barriers to friendship.
  • Project your life into the future and see: are male friendships something that you see for yourself in your later years? Would more friendships make for a happy life as you age? Work backwards and do the work now; investing in good, quality male friendships now will pay off down the road, like a good retirement plan.
  • Find new friends: seek out parts of your life where new people may already exist, or find new places to go find people. Think about what interests you have, and where other, likeminded men would be to share those interests. Spend the time to go to where other guys who are like you would be hanging out.
  • Talk with your girlfriend, wife or spouse: maybe doing double dates would work in the beginning, so as to ease the transition into a new male friendship. It’s possible that your wife or girlfriend knows another female in her life that she would like to spend time with and get to know, and maybe that person has a significant other that would like to meet you. Plan an evening outing for the four of you, get a babysitter, and find an interesting new restaurant to meet up at. Take a risk, and even if it doesn’t work out, you’ll have put yourself out there anyways.
  • Go through your Facebook or LinkedIn contacts: this doesn’t have to sound cheesy, but maybe there are actually Facebook friends that you could meet up with in real life. Hey, it’s an idea, and who would have thunk: actually meeting someone live in the flesh from Facebook. It’s possible there is one or two guys who you could see yourself spending an afternoon hanging out with, or drinking a beer with.
  • Carve out the time: actually find the time in your busy schedule to meet a friend. Stop using the excuses that you can’t or don’t have the time, and make it happen. Create the time on a regular basis, on a weekend or weeknight evening where you’re available to meet with someone, and work around your and your family’s busy schedule to prioritize this for yourself, without impinging on any one else’s needs.

Male friendships – whether old or new – make for a happy and varied life, and can give a lot to you. They require work and availability, but they are some of the most important things for a fulfilling life. Think about the ideas above, and challenge yourself to see if you’d like more male friendships in your life by reaching out beyond your comfort zone to make a friendship happen for you.

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Ten Steps to a Healthy Marriage 

When it comes to being in a healthy marriage, it will depend on a number of factors that have to do with personalities, environment, work life, the time they have for each other, and so forth. However, different marriages exist happily for different reasons there are commonalities that allows two people to stay together for a long time.

While each married couple will develop their own standards that bring about happiness, there are some general traits that they find in common with each other. These particular traits can be shared and used by all married couples when it comes to finding a happier environment for their marriage.

Here are ten steps to living a healthy marriage that will help you and your spouse during the difficult times overcome challenges.

Communication

There is no doubt that a healthy, open line of communication is vital for the success of the marriage. This means that each spouse should feel comfortable talking to their partner about any subject. For married couples, this may be the most difficult aspect to keep open is the line of communication when it comes to all of their concerns. However, the feeling that you can go to your partner to discuss anything at anytime is vital to the success of a marriage.

Time

Spending time together, particularly in the early days of your marriage is vital when it comes to forming a bond. This means planning date nights, getaways, and vacations together so that you can learn all about each other. The more time you can spend together, the better. There will come a time when you will feel more comfortable spending time apart, but at least in the first few years of a marriage you should really get to know each other so that you can make the most of it.

Trust

Trust is earned, not given even in the setting of marriage. This means that each partner has to demonstrate that they can be trusted on a number of levels which will usually occur over the first few years of the marriage. When you can trust your partner, it takes a great deal of the stress out of the marriage because you are not worried about them in their daily lives.

Negotiate

Learning how to negotiate is another vital part of marriage as both sides are not going to get everything that they want. The most important point is not to get too emotionally attached to whatever the negotiations are about. Once too much emotion comes into play, the negotiations start to break down and suddenly you find yourself with one unhappy person in the marriage. Instead, learn about how to negotiate so that you can protect the feelings of you and your partner.

Know Who You Are

This may seem a bit strange at first, but understanding who you are is a vital part of your marriage. This means that learning about yourself will help your partner know more about you. This means understanding your dreams, what makes you happy, as well as knowing your fears. The more you can discover about yourself, the more you can share with your partner which makes for a happier, healthier marriage.

Be Respectful of Each Other

Arguably one of the most extraordinary things in a marriage is how each partner will treat total strangers with respect and not each other. Showing respect for each other is a very important part of the marriage because it demonstrates your feelings towards your partner.

Work on Your Spiritual Connection

For those who want to enhance their spiritual side, this is a great way for you and your partner to explore the connection that it offers. By exploring your spiritual connection, you can form a greater bond that provides greater peace, understanding, and commitment. You can start by attending a church, mosque, or synagogue or you can get in touch with nature by spending more time outdoors and exploring the wonders of the world. You can even achieve it through combined meditation or conversation depending on your time commitment.

Explore and Create Common Interests

People have their own interests which develop over time for one reason or another. You should explore the interests that both of you have in common as well as creating new interests that both of you can share. Learning to do new things is one of the best pieces of marriage advice because it is something that both of you have in common while being respectful of the individual interest that each of you have.

Learn to Forgive

Human beings make mistakes and learning how to forgive each other is another vital part of marriage. Most of the time, the offenses will be small. However, there will be ones that are large and you will need to make the decision whether to forgive them of what they have done or not. If not, then the marriage is essentially over with at that point. So, if what your partner has done does not breach what is unforgivable, then forgive them and move on with your marriage.

Always Look for the Best in Each Other

A person is as good as they have proven to be over time which means that you should always look for the best in your partner. Watch out for changes in perspective as what you might have seen as a thrifty trait might now be seen as being cheap. By giving your partner the benefit of the doubt, you can create a better relationship and see the positives that each of you brings to the relationship. One way is to create a list of the things that you appreciate about your partner and watch as you fall in love all over again.

Learning how to receive marriage advice is another important step in the evolution of your partnership. If you feel the need for an outside viewpoint, then it is important for both of you to get some counseling in a venue that works for both of you.

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What is Low Self-Esteem?

When it comes to mental afflictions that can happen at any age, one of the most prominent is low self esteem. Around the world, millions of people suffer from low self esteem in one form or another which hinders their own abilities to accomplish their dreams and may even lead to depression or worse if left unchecked.

However, defining low self esteem is not easy as the symptoms vary from person to person. Plus, the effects can be temporary or long lasting depending on a number of different factors. Before addressing the issues of low self esteem, it is important to understand what self esteem is and what are the causes or conditions for a person to view themselves in a negative light.

What is Self Esteem? 

Basically, self esteem is the subjective emotional viewpoint of a person’s value of their own worth. It is both a judgment and an attitude towards their own self-being that often involved questions such as;

  • Am I Confident?
  • Am I Worthy?
  • Am I Strong Enough?

Self esteem is the view that a person takes of themselves in terms of self-worth and how they perceive others viewing them. In addition, self esteem can be compartmentalized in the sense that a person may feel good about themselves generally, but have little confidence in a particular ability or attribute. Conversely, they may feel superior in a certain light while generally less appreciative of other attributes that they may possess.

The complicated nature of self esteem combined with how it differs from person to person makes detecting low self esteem a difficult task. In addition, the view of self esteem can change for a number of reasons which is why making the proper diagnosis and changes can be challenging. However, it is important to address issues of low self esteem when they arise.

Causes

There are a number of causes and usually it is a combination of different elements that causes periods of low self esteem to occur. Generally speaking, everyone undergoes period of self-doubt, but that is usually a very temporary state that may last for a few hours or days before it passes. The causes that drop the view of self esteem however are usually a combination of genetic, environmental, and other factors that contribute to the condition.

In essence, there is no singular cause but a combination of different events with the overall mental outlook of the person that can lead to a lowering of self esteem. People go through terrible events in their lives and some come out with little to no self esteem issues because of their personality or genetic makeup while others seem to be affected by events of a far less serious nature.

Symptoms

Chronic Indecision: The inability to make a choice because you are too worried about the consequences no matter the gain. Quite often, the person becomes trapped because not making a decision also offers consequences that they do not want to face which only heightens the stress.

Self Criticism and Dissatisfaction: Being overly hard on yourself after taking a test, performing in an event, or other task is a common cause of low self esteem.

Hypersensitive to Criticism: Feelings of resentment and being attacked after receiving criticism no matter how constructive may be more of a genetic issue in how people handle criticism perhaps combined with past events.

Excessive Wanting to Please: The unwillingness to risk displeasing any particular person is a sign of low self esteem. This is because they are placing their worth below that of another person.

Floating Hostility: Being irritable and hostile or defensive for no particular reason. Attacking others for no reason is a powerful sign not having good self esteem issues.

Perfectionism: While the ideal of achieving perfection is not linked to self esteem, the inability to reach it and the frustration that follows is a sign that something is wrong.

Envy, Pessimism, and Guilt: While all three of these symptoms in and of themselves are not considered low self esteem, but in excessive amounts do point to issues that the person might be feeling.

Another sign is overreacting to a temporary setback which affects them far more than it should. Again, many of these symptoms when taking individually may not indicate a dire condition. However, if they persist or grow worse it is a sign that something might be wrong.

Treatments

The general treatment for this condition does vary from person to person, but it is generally one for psychiatric treatment where the patient receives counseling that identifies and addresses the problem. This form of self esteem is one that is generally built up over time and needs to be addressed much in the same way bad habits or other mental conditions are treated.

Many people who suffer from this condition may not realize the severity of what they have until it is pointed out to them. Usually, treatments sessions from a psychiatrist offers the best solution as they can identify and see the effects of what their current state of self esteem has brought them.

Drugs or other treatments are generally not necessary unless it has progressed to the point of depression or other stage. For most people, it is general treatments in terms of psychological therapies designed to directly address the feelings and actions of the person that work the best.

Identifying when someone has a low opinion of themselves is never an easy one and today, millions of people who have this condition may be completely unaware that it exists. Furthermore, there is a noted difference between what a person says about themselves and how they act in public which may mean that self esteem is simply not all that important.

A person who says they are afraid of heights and yet climbs a mountain is probably expressing a fear and not a condition that expresses their own self esteem. Therefore, the actions of the person must be taken into account in order to obtain the right diagnosis.

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Dealing with Regret

Regret is one of those funny things that lingers a long time if you don’t deal with it, sometimes forever. We tell ourselves that time will help us get over things from the past, but regret is immune to time. It only grows with the passing of time, as it crystallizes our feelings of sadness, disappointment, shame and grief. It taints our views of our life, and settles into a long-term unhappiness for what we never made happen in our lives previously.

Forms of Regret

Regret can come in all shapes and sizes. It can come in any particular event in our lives, with the death of someone close to us, with a divorce, with our children leaving for college, or with missed opportunities that we didn’t take earlier in our lives.

It can come in the form of things not said when they needed to be said, at missed opportunities with people in our lives. It’s often difficult to say what we need to say when the time is ripe to say it, and when the moment or moments pass, we create regret for ourselves by not expressing ourselves in the moment.

Regret can also come in the forms of things we left unfulfilled in our lives, from not taking jobs we should have taken, to interests and hobbies we failed to invest in, to relationship partners that we let go in our lives. Regret is the byproduct of risk never taken, and the result of fear dominating us at the time we didn’t put ourselves out there in our lives.

Ruminating, or constantly thinking about what wasn’t done or said, is another form regret takes. It’s when you live in the past, always thinking about the situation in which caused the regret and not allowing yourself to move forward. When you are stuck in thinking constantly about the regret, it can mean that you’re not allowing yourself to deal with the painful feelings associated with your grief underneath it.

I think that we think, as men, that if we can come up with a “solution” to our regret – which we won’t or else we would have already – that we’ll be at peace when we figure it out. In fact, constantly thinking or ruminating about our regret is an avoidance from the pain of our regret.

Regret can also arise in the form of the self-critic, where you beat yourself up, guilt yourself, or shame yourself for things you hadn’t done or said in the past. You may not recognize it as regret, and in fact, you may have tried over the years to “right the wrong,” and completely change around your behavior to prevent from another regret-inducing decision from happening. But, that doesn’t mean you’ve dealt with the original regret.

Quieting the self-critic, and working through the difficult emotions associated with regret are ways to start to work through the regret. Communicating with someone close to you, journalling, writing letters to those associated with your regret, or getting therapy to help you work through the blocks of regret are ways to help yourself work through the regret and free yourself from the painful past.

Coming to Terms with the Past

Dealing with grief is a way to get over regret. I think unfulfilled expectations are just as powerful as sources of grief as can be the loss of people in our lives. When we deal with regret, it’s helpful to see what we regret as being a loss, like a death in a sense.

For men who don’t want to deal with the past, this can be a major obstacle towards dealing with regret. A lot of times, I hear, “the past is the past, so why should I spend any time or energy worrying about it?” I think it’s valuable to deal with the issues of the past so that they can lift us out of that past, setting us on a course towards happiness today, and into the future. If we avoid dealing with the past, it just gives that regret energy, forcing it back into our minds and allowing it more time to grow.

Communicating with people can be a powerful way to work through regret. Having difficult conversations, and owning or taking responsibility for your failures, and letting the people know who were a part of those failures, can be a way to put to rest regrets that you might be harboring. In fact, they may alter the course of your relationships for the better if you take the risk to work through your regrets of the past.

Some examples of dealing with regret:

  • Letting your children know your regrets about what you failed to do/say/be to them while they were growing up
  • Communicating with old partners or spouses what you didn’t do or wished you’d done in your relationship with them (you might want to first communicate with your current spouse that you want to do this, as to not cause further disruptions)
  • Working to let yourself off the hook by dealing with shame, anger, sadness, grief or failure

Regret is not always easy to work on, and may require professional help, but it can be worked through and doesn’t have to dominate your experience and your life. You can learn to work through the pain of regret and unfulfilled exceptions, so that you can more fully live in the present and be more available to yourself, and to others, in your life today.

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The Emotionally Available Man

As men, being in touch with our emotions is critical. It can be the deciding factor between success and failure for yourself in the areas of relationships, friends, dating and marriage, career and personal health and happiness. Unfortunately, there are still barriers to men becoming more emotionally aware and available.

Dying are the days of the “men don’t cry” culture: too many men are struggling too much in order to keep those outdated masculine fronts going these days. I think more is required from men in these harder times, especially in the realm of intimate and business relationships. Men’s poor mental health is driving a lot of men into depression and suicide, more than in the past. Romantic relationships demand that men be able to be more “emotional,” far more than relationships of the past, and soft or “social” skills are now expected of modern workers as jobs become increasing more phased out and more specialized.

For the emotionally available man, he is able to deal with and slay this stigma that he can’t be emotional or “feel,” because he’ll not be accepted or be ostracized. He doesn’t have to hide himself just because his friends or family do it that way, and can trust himself that his emotions can lead the way to a happy and authentic life. He can tune out other dissenting voices, like the media or other guys, if he knows what he feels and can act based on mindfully dealing with his emotions. An emotionally available man doesn’t need to run from his negative emotions, but can turn, face them, and deal with the world by harnessing them.

What characterizes an emotionally available man?

  1. A guy who can feel his feelings and not run from them
  2. A man who isn’t afraid to be vulnerable, and feel afraid, inferior, powerless or other vulnerable feelings
  3. Someone who doesn’t have the answers all the time
  4. Men who don’t have to resort to anger, rage or violence to deal with their emotions
  5. Guys who don’t have to resort to drugs, alcohol, work, other women or other escapes from their feelings
  6. A guy who can risk communicating his feelings and deal with the fear of rejection or failure
  7. Men who can “lose the ego,” not posture, and be authentic when dealing with others in their life
  8. Men who can do more than “intellectualize” their feelings as mental concepts – that can actually feel their feelings as they are rather than analyzing them

This is a demanding list, and there are plenty of factors that will certainly get in the way of being able to be all of these ways. But, I think these are the traits of an emotionally aware man.

Hiding Emotionally, and the Problems It Creates

Women want men to be emotionally available to them. They suffer when their men hide out and stuff their emotions away. Done consistently, it damages relationships and marriages way more so than if men were to express themselves emotionally.

Sometimes guys hide out emotionally because they’re afraid of conflict if they were to express their emotions.   Either, we’ll run from our emotions, and not deal with them, or just bury them for years to come and never working on dealing with them. They don’t go away, as much as we’d like them to, so they sit, ferment and create problems on other problems. Men will often hide out in work, alcohol, other women, to bring the comfort and the distraction we need to keep avoiding those painful emotions.

Soon, it’s difficult to see how you got to a certain place in life, when decision after decision has been based on avoiding your problems. Bad decisions come from other bad decisions, and a pattern of emotional avoidance is almost always a culprit in this poor decision making process.

Many men don’t know their feelings, and can’t communicate them. Some are caught in the trap of “intellectualization,” where they stay stuck in their heads trying to mentally understand their emotions, or their origin, and never actually feel them. I talk with a lot of men that are so busy trying to figure out how to solve their problems, rather than considering that the way to actually fix relationship problems is to connect to themselves emotionally, and then connect with their partner.

Working through a problem emotionally, rather than rationally, is a surefire way to repair relationship damage, although it runs counter to how guys usually think the fix comes. Getting in touch with whatever feelings were triggered by a certain incident in a relationship, and then communicating it, will ensure a new way to repair and rebond after relationship conflict or damage has happened.

Learning about your emotions is critical to a happy and authentic life. It can make or break huge decisions in your life, including negative ones you won’t recognize you made if you’ve been avoiding your emotions. Developing emotional awareness is one way to achieve good decision making, satisfying relationships with others, and a positive self-esteem and relationship with yourself.

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Building (and Breaking) Relationship Trust

Relationship trust is an interesting thing. It’s one of the most important ingredients to any successful marriage or relationship. Building it takes a long time, but breaking it takes no time at all.

Trust builds emotional safety and connection in a relationship, and lays a foundation to the well being of any marriage or relationship. When it’s compromised, we’re inclined to close up, to not be as emotionally available to our partner, and withdraw from the relationship.

As babies, we come into the world with a trusting nature. We trust that our caretakers will be there to fulfill our basic needs for love, food, attention and touch. Without those needs being met, we’d perish. We’re no different when we get older, as we still have those essential needs, and even more so. We trust that our partner will be there for us – not just physically, but emotionally. When that trust is compromised, we’re left in a tailspin because the very people that we counted on to trust have compromised it.

I think it’s important to identify the ways to build – and break – relationship trust, to kind of break it down into things you can see and apply to your relationship, or diagnose if you’re falling into negative patterns that break trust.

I’ve summarized a list of ways to build, and ways to break, relationship trust. How do these ideas play into your current or past relationship or marriage?

Ways to build trust in a relationship:

  • Be honest with your partner
  • Employ a “do unto others” philosophy in your relationship: put yourself in their shoes before doing something potentially harmful to your relationship
  • Put your true feelings out there, even if you’re afraid of hurting your partner
  • Not harboring negative feelings by not communicating them
  • Don’t make assumptions about the other person: check it out with them first
  • Deal with the ways you let fear take over
  • Identify your own issues that prevent you from trusting, like insecurity, inadequacy, or jealousy
  • Be true to your word: follow through with what you say you’ll do
  • Deal with other women in an effective way, rather than getting into “leaking” out sexual or emotional energy to other women (and then rationalizing that you’re doing it).
  • If you lie, commit to getting help to deal with the root causes of your lying, so that you can stop it

Ways to break trust in a relationship:

  • Lying, or even white lying
  • Not being upfront and honest with your mate, even if it’s difficult
  • Communicating with other women inappropriately, whether it’s text, email, photos, social media, etc.
  • Being manipulative in your behavior
  • Making promises you don’t keep: not being true to your word with your partner
  • Being someone you’re not: being a phony, a cheat, or a deceiver
  • Withholding your emotions, especially negative ones, from your partner
  • Being “emotionally dishonest” with your feelings
  • Not listening to your partner (creates distrust and lack of safety for them to reveal themselves)

Breaking Trust and Infidelity

Trust takes a long time to redevelop after it’s been compromised or destroyed, especially in an infidelity or cheating situation. If you’ve cheated on your partner, it may take them a lot longer to repair, and will certainly take couples or marriage counseling, and time. Even if you’ve gotten over the cheating situation, that doesn’t mean your wife or girlfriend is over it. She may not have even started the process to heal herself from your infidelity. Don’t assume she’s on the same schedule as you in terms of repairing from the damage.

But time itself does not heal wounds. I can’t tell you how many people think that time alone will heal trust breaches, but it doesn’t. Therapy is needed, and a commitment to work through the pain of whatever broke the trust. Just pushing the distrust issues to the back of your brain and not dealing with it doesn’t mean you won’t have to deal with those same issues at some point down the road.

I also think the definition of infidelity extends out past just a sexual affair. I think it also includes texting with or communicating with other women through social media, email, chat, etc. I think too many guys rationalize that if they just talk with other women and don’t have sex with them, that it’s not really cheating, but I disagree. Put yourself in your partner’s shoes. What would she (or he) say, or do? If you rationalize your behavior, you might want to consider your behavior, and consider the fact that breaking trust comes from these very actions.

 

Do consider how important trust is in your relationship, and if you’re doing things to compromise the trust, stop those behaviors or seek out counseling to help you identify the root causes of those behaviors so you don’t have to expose them to your relationship. The best relationships are trusting relationships, and if you’re not trustworthy, you’re not only not bringing the best you to your relationship. You’re damaging it.

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What is Bipolar Disorder?

The very term bipolar disorder conjures up a number of images for those who are not familiar with this form of mental issue. Also called manic depression, this disorder affects millions of people around the world and is often wrongly diagnosed or simply not fully understood.

What is Bipolar Disorder?

This is a mental disorder that is noted for its periods of elevated spirits followed by episodes of depression. Those who suffer from this disorder teeter between manic or hypomania moods that can be elevated to the point of psychosis and back down to deep depression. It’s as if there is no emotional balances that can be maintained as the moods shift back one to the other which can take weeks, days, hours, or even moments to occur.

During the manic phase, the person feels very happy and energetic sometimes to the point of being very irritable. The decisions they make are often poorly thought out and have little to no regard for the consequences. It is during this state that they enjoy very little sleep because of the elevated energy levels.

When the mania slips to depression they will often avoid eye contact with others, have a negative outlook on life, and even cry for extended periods of time. When depressed their risk of committing suicide rises significantly along with the chances of harming themselves. Commonly associated with this disorder are anxiety issues and substance abuse.

Around 3% of the people living in the US either have or have had bipolar disorder. Interestingly enough, the percentages are lower in countries around the world. However, that may be due to the condition not being recognized or not diagnosed correctly. In the US men and women stand about an equal chance of having this condition. In addition to the social stigma that is associated with having bipolar disorder, people with this affliction tend to miss more days of work as a result. Left untreated, manic depression may actually work itself out, stay the same, or lead down the road to accident or suicide depending in large part on how it affects the person.

Causes

There is no singular, identifiable cause of bipolar disorder and what causes the condition to occur is still not very well understood. It is known that it involves a combination of genetic as well as environmental factors that play a role in the onset and severity of the condition. There are genes that contribute to the risk of developing this condition. However, it does vary in terms of the overall effect that it creates. In other words, two people with the same type of genes that makes them susceptible to bipolar disorder may lead two entirely different lives with one being unaffected while the other experiences mild to severe symptoms.

In addition to genetic, there are environmental issues that can contribute to the formation of manic depression which include enduring childhood abuse and long term stress. Many people who develop the symptoms of bipolar disorder have reported the issues of being under stress or having been abused when they were younger.
Today, there are two categories of this condition that are recognized by medical health professionals;

Bipolar I Disorder: At least one episode of mania reported.

Bipolar II Disorder: At least one episode of mania and one episode of depression.

In addition, those who experience mild symptoms over a prolonged period of time may experience what is known as a cyclothymic disorder. If this particular condition was assisted by the use of drugs or medical issues, then it does have a separate classification and is treated as such. There are other disorders that may be present in those who have bipolar disorder which includes the following:

Attention Deficit Disorder
Personality Disorder
Schizophrenia

Each of these disorders can contribute to manic depression and must be treated in conjunction. The complications brought on by other disorders can help mask the symptoms of bipolar disorder and lead to a wrong diagnosis.

Treatments

There are a number of treatments that are used for this particular condition which include psychotherapies as well as medications. The medications used are generally antipsychotics or mood stabilizers that are designed to provide more balance so that the person does not experience the extremes of the condition. Medications such as lithium and anticonvulsants are common when treating manic depression.

Psychotherapies are generally done with a psychiatrist that helps the patient identify when their moods are swinging from one extreme to another so they can take the appropriate steps to counter the effects. Psychotherapies are not necessarily cures, but they can provide the sufferer with the tools to identify what is happening. In many cases, those who suffer from this form of illness are not aware that it is happening which makes treatments even more difficult to administer. By recognizing the symptoms, the person can take more medication or engage in activities that help calm the mania or get out of the depressive state.

For those who are treated in a hospital against their will, often because they do not realize or accept that they have this condition often have to go several times. This is because the effects of the treatments do not take hold unless the patient understands what they have and accepts the results. Benzodiazepines are often used in short term treatments to correct behavioral issues.

One of the issues with bipolar disorder is that the different medications that are used to treat either the mania or depression must be stopped if the other side starts to emerge. For example, antidepressant medication needs to be halted if the person is experiencing mania. Instead, mood stabilizers are put into place. In addition, there are also electroconvulsive therapies that have shown to work when other forms of medications are not showing any positive results.

In the end, treating bipolar disorder is a complicated process, but one that can be mastered by those who generally use a combination of medications and psychotherapies. By being able to identify the times in which mania is emerging, those who suffer from this condition are far more likely to avoid experiencing the severe mood swings that this disorder can bring.

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Dealing with Anxiety

Everyone feels anxiety at different times in their lives. Anxiety is a normal feeling when a person is anticipating some type of event that causes concern, worry or even elation. However, the feelings of anxiety generally go rather quickly once the event arrives or when thoughts about other things are being considered.
However, there are those who have difficulties in dealing with anxiety which can lead to undue stress that actually harms the mind and body. Left unchecked, anxiety that is stress-induced may lead to serious health issues that will take a heavy toll. The good news is that there are many ways to deal with the onset of anxiety and lessen its impact. All you really need to do is identify when an anxious moment arises and then take the necessary steps to limit its effect.

When Anxiety Strikes

Anxiety is rather easy to spot as you reach a heightened state that usually accompanied by feeling of fear or dread. In most cases, anxiety is a result of anticipating a particular event such as meeting with your boss or wondering if an intruder has entered your home. However, anxiety can also accompany the anticipation of positive events such as waiting to buy tickets for a favorite performer or wedding day jitters.
Experiencing a few moments of anxiety is perfectly normal and do not need to be addressed because your mind and body are built to take a short burst of anxious moments. However, if the anxiety does not fade after a few moments you will then need to take some action.

Time Out: This is not the same as giving your child a time out, but it is in the same ballpark. Here, you take a few moments to calm down, listen to music, meditate, or even get a massage in order to take your mind off the feelings of anxiety. After a few moments, you return to the issue with a clearer head so that you can think about what, if any action to take.

Take Deep Breaths: You should inhale and then exhale slowly several times in order to calm down. The purpose of taking deep breaths is two-fold. This lets out the carbon dioxide and increase the oxygen in the blood which has a calming effect and your focus is shifted from what is making you anxious to deep breathing.

Count to Ten: As with deep breathing, you can also count to ten slowly and then backwards again repeating the process until you are calmer. Again, this is a technique designed to take your mind off what is making you anxious.
Focus on the Positive: Remember that whatever it is which is making you anxious, there are things that you can do to overcome it. By staying focused on the positive, you can tamp down on the feelings of anxiety and keep them in their proper perspective.

Laugh: Laughter is the best medicine for many different things and anxiety is one of them. If helps if you can share a joke or make a funny comment that brings laughter to others which will help you with your anxiety.

How to Lessen the Onset of Anxiety

While there are things that you can do in terms of dealing with anxiety directly, there are also ways that you can prepare your mind and body so that the effects are not nearly as strong. By taking care of yourself first, you can better handle the times when an anxious moment arises.

Eat Healthy, Well Balanced Meals: You’ll want to eat healthy with plenty of fruits and vegetables. Remember to not skip any meals and keep a few energy-boosting snacks on hand in case you run low.
No Alcohol or Caffeine: They will increase the feeling of anxiety and can actually trigger a panic attack. So, stay away from both if you can.

Get Plenty of Sleep: Sleeping enough each day ensures that you are getting all the rest you need so that you can properly recover. Anxiety is stronger in those who do not get enough rest each night.
Exercise Regularly: You do not need an Olympic-level workout routine to improve your ability to resist anxiety. In fact, a good walk, yoga exercise, bike riding, swimming, and other low-impact workouts will provide what you need to keep your body in shape.

Mental Exercises to Reduce Anxiety

In addition to preparing your body, you can also prepare your mind when it comes to addressing the effects of anxiety. Remember, there is no way to completely eliminate anxiety and actually that is a good thing. A short state of anxiousness elevates the senses and prepares you to take action. All you really need to do is keep things in perspective and calm down once the anxiety hits.

Identify your Anxiety Triggers: When it comes to dealing with anxiety, the first step should be what sets them off. Look for commonalities in what makes you anxious and from the pattern you’ll discover certain triggers that could be a person, family, school, work, or other things that are bringing on these feelings. Once you know what it is, then dealing with it becomes easier.

You Cannot Control Everything: No one can control everything and if you could, you probably would not be where you are at right now. So, keep that in mind when you face a situation that is clearly beyond your control.
Volunteer: Working for others can have a very calming effect on the mind, particularly since you are focusing your energy helping others instead of what might happen to you. Volunteer a few hours out of your week to help others and you’ll be helping yourself in the process.

There are many methods available when dealing with anxiety. The trick is to find two or three that you can use when feeling anxious for more than a moment or two and combine that with eating healthy along with exercise. When you do that, you can effectively deal with what anxiety can bring on and lead a healthier, happier life.

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