Our House is on Fire

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Your House is on Fire

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You wouldn’t blame a burning house for being on fire. No, you’d try and figure out what caused the house to catch fire in order to prevent it from happening again to other houses.

When it comes to men’s mental health, and mental health in general, we tend to blame the house. We blame the person. We blame individual men for not being able to express their emotions.

Men grow up learning that expressing emotion is not what a man should do. While this is completely backwards now, it wasn’t always seen that way. So most men have been conditioned to resist expressing many emotions. It’s not a conscious choice, it’s a deeply ingrained thing, put in place not just by other men, but by everyone in society. We are far more likely to laugh at and mock a man who cries than a woman who cries. We implicitly see it as something to be ashamed of. And while this is changing, it is changing slowly. Men are learning to express themselves but it takes times to undo generations of conditioned behaviour.

I hear complaints so very often about emotionally unavailable men. And this is always positioned as being the fault of the individual. The point I’m trying to make is that it is not the fault of individual men that they are unable to express emotion. When you are told from a young age that expressing feelings sadness is not for ‘big boys’, it becomes default to resist these emotions. The individual is not to blame for this emotional unavailability. They are not to blame for not being able to process heartbreak and trauma – they’ve never had the opportunity to explore these emotions growing up, at least not to the same level their female counterparts have.

That said, while it is not their fault, it is their problem. While it is not our own fault that we have a lesser ability to express our emotions, it is our responsibility to fix this problem. We need to become aware of our personal issues with emotions, and we need to do the work to improve. Every person has and group has battles to face, as men ours is our lack of emotional familiarity.

This is the reality. It is not your fault, but your house is on fire, so you need to figure out how to dampen the flames.

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