“Men don’t cry!”
“Men showing emotions is not normal.”
These phrases sound familiar, don't they? These are the notions that the men in our country have grown up with. It's years and years of conditioning that makes them close up to their loved ones and others.
As a collectivistic society, we propagate norms such as men can't show emotions and they are the sole breadwinners in the family, that they need to have a macho figure and be dominant because of which we might fail to evaluate the kind of norms and narratives that we are following as a society and the kind of impact it can have on the "dominant community" of our society.
Men also have the right to express what they feel and be vulnerable. As a society, our efforts must be directed toward creating a safe space for people who identify as men. We need to stop holding them accountable for showing emotions and encourage vulnerability, voicing of emotions, asking for help, or reaching out because men have feelings too!
Many times, just acknowledging and letting them know that you are here to provide them with the space can make a difference. Maybe we will not see any change in the situation in one night or even months, for that matter, but these small steps build a foundation for bringing about a change in the future.
We talk about appreciating men, but how rarely do we put that into practice? This is the question one can reflect on.
Here's how we can show support:
1) Paying attention to what they are sharing:
Listening is a major part of the conversations we have in our daily lives. Instead of focusing on what to say next in a conversation, you can just listen to what they say and make them feel heard. This will help them feel secure around you and also increase their confidence in you.
Acknowledgment can be seen as an extension to the point of listening. Acknowledging the fact that you are here and are listening to them and trying to understand what they feel will let them know, that their feelings matter and that someone is willing to provide the space.
3) Encouraging and Initiating Conversations:
Encouraging men to be more open is another way we can show support. In a heterogeneous relationship, if your partner is someone who likes to talk about their feelings or even if it's a friend of yours, don't shut them down when they express themselves. Be there for them and have those conversations with them. If you know any of your guy friends going through a difficult phase, you can check up on them and start conversations about how they are doing. Individual efforts can go a long way in paving the path for a better future.
Dear men, it's okay to be vulnerable. One cannot and does not need to be strong and mask their feelings all day long. It's okay to reach out and ask for support because, honestly, don't we all need some support at some point in life?
We got you! Written By - Lavina Waghalekar (Marketing Co-ordinator at The Mood Space)
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