Men experience difficulty being vulnerable due to societal pressures of masculinity. You may feel the need to “man-up” or uphold a callous, tough self-image. You might hold yourself back from displaying emotions other than anger or happiness. Feelings of sadness, grief, and loneliness might be pushed deep down for men. These feelings may also become expressed during a fit of rage or other acts of anger due to the limited number of feelings men feel being “acceptable.” Recovery from addiction may require you to deal with your emotions in a way that feels uncomfortable or even “weak” due to preconceptions about men and vulnerability.
Vulnerability in men might be considered a weakness due to the expectation that men remain strong and stoic throughout their lives. Most men are told growing up that crying is not “manly” or that feeling sad is not acceptable. You might have difficulty opening up to others about your emotions, thoughts, and feelings. A lack of vulnerability can negatively impact your ability to recover from your addiction. Underlying causes of addiction might include traumatic pasts or painful emotions that you might need to process. When you hold back on expressing these emotions, you might continue to “mask” your issues with addiction.
Men and Women in Recovery
Treatment programs might separate genders and only treat one gender. They might also incorporate gender-specific groups to deal with the unique challenges that each gender faces in recovery. Choice House believes that gender-specific programming is vital to long-term care for addiction due to the differing nature of addiction between men and women. Men and women are biologically different, which causes differences in the addiction experience. Men and women also typically have various reasons for becoming addicted and might benefit from separate and distinct programming to learn coping strategies for these issues. Choice House treats men with addiction, and our program caters to the unique challenges of men in recovery.
Learning to Express Emotions
Due to societal pressures and expectations to not express many emotions, men may not know how to express themselves effectively. They may struggle during relationships or have difficulty connecting with others. When you can be vulnerable with another person, you can create a bond of trust and openness to enhance your life. You might benefit from different types of therapies that teach you to express your internal emotional state better. Some of these therapies can help you understand yourself better and teach you ways to communicate with others, including:
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
- Learn to understand your belief systems
- Challenge your long-held thought patterns and beliefs
- Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT)
- Similar to CBT; however, DBT has an emphasis on emotional regulation
- DBT also helps those with significant issues in building or maintaining relationships with others.
- Art Therapy
- Art therapy can help you learn ways to express your emotions when you struggle to find the words
- Artistic expression can provide an outlet for you to express yourself
- With the guidance of an art therapist, you might learn new ways of understanding your emotions
The Stigma of Seeking Help From Others
Men might be taught at an early age to be self-reliant. They might be told that they are not to bother others with their issues and that they need to work out solutions for themselves. Men may feel that reaching out for help is a sign of weakness, so they attempt to deal with all their problems independently. Getting help is not a sign of weakness, and admitting that you are unable to face a challenge alone can be a sign of determination. If you were only able to complete life challenges entirely on your own, you would likely struggle with most of the tasks and goals you set out to accomplish. Opening to others and getting help can be paramount to success in recovery.
Dealing With Uncomfortable Feelings
When beginning recovery, you may need to deal with uncomfortable feelings. Shame, embarrassment, grief, or sadness might be challenging for you to express. When you are in a treatment program, remember that your peers have likely also felt similar emotions. They may have struggled to express themselves at first. However, to succeed in recovery, you may need to let go of your preconceptions about vulnerability. You may feel uncomfortable at first. As you continue through your recovery and arrive at a place of trust and security, you can begin to dive into the deep healing work of recovery. When you allow yourself to be vulnerable, you can thrive in your life and your recovery.
Choice House is here to help men during their recovery from addiction. We understand that each gender has unique experiences with addiction. Men and women differ in both their chemical make-up as well as the challenges that they face. Men might have learned from an early age, never to cry or to express any sign of weakness. Emotional men might feel that they are viewed as “unmanly” or “weak.” The stigma surrounding men and vulnerability might be preventing many men from seeking the help and treatment needed to succeed in life and recovery. Men may also have difficulty admitting when they need help or reaching out for support. They may have learned that they need to deal with their problems with no help from others. However, support from others can help men thrive and gain more independence when they feel secure and safe in the world. For more information on recovery and treatment, call Choice House today at (720) 577-4422.