Guys in the Hurt Locker

by Shaun Kieran

I still have a few friends with whom I can speak honestly about what I’m seeing these days and not worry about their reactions. One of the things we talk about pretty consistently is how guys are such train wrecks these days, why that is, and where we can go from here.

It’s always been true that most of my clients have been women because the stereotype is also true: women are much better at knowing when it’s time to get help.  And so many times they’ve said something like, “I wish you could talk to my [husband, boyfriend, ex, teenage son, etc.]” Usually that’s said wistfully because they know it’s not going to happen.

There are “guy” scripts that some men play out and stick to ‘til the bitter end, too often having killed a lot of brain cells along the way. There’s a lot of deep sorrow covered over by permanent immaturity, aggression, and (self) destruction.

Fortunately, some men are capable of asking for help at the point they realize they’re in deep, possibly permanent, trouble if they don’t pull it together quickly.

This is not the place for a major essay on how culture shapes personality, and I do know my own strengths are best deployed helping individuals, male or female. But I need to hammer this point: when anyone’s “emotional crunch” time comes, it’s time to be both humble and smart.

There is information coming to you – from others, from the situation, from you – about yourself and the way you’ve been managing your life. Yes, the information is saturated with feelings, but that’s information, too. At some point the “just do it” acting performance and the avoid self-awareness mindset have to give way to updating the information, letting it register, then acting on that information – in a small, but real way.

That is the key to everything good that follows. Sure, it’s not easy, but – it isn’t killer hard, either.

Men still resist reaching that point more than women do, even in this new, uncharted postmodern world. I’m interested in whether others agree or not – and why.

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