To Be or Not To Be OK… That is The Question

by | Jun 11, 2020


Are You OK?

Society all too often fails to ask men this vital question. This simple withholding of concern bears an arguably causal connection to the current state of man’s mental and emotional health.

Mental Health America released a startling infographic that revealed that up 6 million men in America alone are affected by depression every year.

So, there’s no way to sugarcoat it, society has failed its men.

Many men have been downtrodden and disregarded to the point where they only know how to exist within an inky, inescapable abyss.

If these words triggered a physical reaction in you, a tightening of the chest, a sharp inhale through the nostrils… a sigh, then understand one thing.

You are a real man, and you’re sad, but you are NOT forgotten.

There’s a way out of this.

There is support all around you, and even better, there is support within. This will help you recognize how to find it, and more importantly, why you needed it in the first place.

The Real Man’s Dogma

Maybe you’re starting to think otherwise but at some point, you were told that “real men don’t cry,” in some way or another.

And for whatever period of time, you believed it, maybe you even tried to embody it.

Then something terrible happened to you and you were stuck with a choice to make: be sad or be strong.

Think back, we’ve all had to make this choice, and unfortunately, that’s where most of the damage has been dealt.

The old school of thought claims that real men don’t show sadness, fear, or even ask for help! It’s a frighteningly effective scheme because it preys on every man’s most powerful desire.

The desire to be seen as a real man.

 Nothing feels better than having your masculinity positively validated.

In an interview with Healthline,  Zach Levin, of the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation explained that “men fall prey to the false idea that they should be tough enough to fix all their problems on their own. They worry that by showing vulnerability, even in the case of physical illness, they may lose their authority with others.

This has created a dogmatic adherence to the socially approved vision of what men should be and that has inadvertently become a huge burden.

The masculinity we treasure so deeply has become our biggest weakness.

In order to protect or often police our sensibilities, society has stigmatized anything that strays away from the ideal of a man as the stoic decision-maker who makes no mistakes, suffers no trauma, and solves all problems.

And the fallout from this has been tragically toxic.

According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, The National Institute for Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, and The National Institute on Drug Abuse, respectively:

  • Men commit suicide at almost four times the rate of women, with firearms being involved 50% of the time.

  • Men die from alcohol abuse at two and a half times the rate of women.

  • Men are more likely than women to overdose from illicit drug use of all kinds.

These morbid statistics, speak volumes. They show that the unfeeling strong man is a myth but his pain, our pain, is very real.

The stigma has clearly grown stale.

Proper Ways of Dealing With Sadness and Sorrow

Brother, absolutely no good will come from you ignoring your mental health.

Pain does not fade away on its own.

It must be handled, processed, and expressed properly to prevent it from becoming cancerous. Jamming your sorrows deep into your subconscious will only light a slow-burning fuse to a time-bomb that will inevitably destroy something, sooner or later.

That could be your relationships, your profession, or even your life itself.

In order to escape the abyss, and learn how to process pain, you MUST work toward building Masculine Emotional Intelligence.

That involves becoming aware of both yourself and your environment on a deeper level. And doing that may sound like a daunting task but every journey starts with one step.

That’s all you need to do today, choose one of these small steps to take.

Understand Your Physiology

It has long been thought that depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues are their own unique type of condition.

Many think that “it’s all just in your head,” but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Your body is in a state of constant chemical flux and there is a very real link between your emotions and your body and brain chemistry.

The state of your body affects the state of your emotions.

Have you been exercising and getting enough sunlight? Have you been eating healthy meals regularly? Have you checked your testosterone levels lately?

Regarding how you feel, these are questions you should definitely be asking yourself. If you didn’t know, even your gut plays a central role in regulating your emotions.

Your mental state could just be the result of a chemical imbalance of key neurotransmitters like dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine.

 So maybe it’s not all in your head, maybe it’s in your body too.

Your negative life habits are most likely reinforcing your negative emotions but if you make it a point to consistently practice positive habits you will surely see an improvement.

Seek Professional Help

One good place to start when trying to figure out the complexities of your brain’s chemistry is to seek the help of a licensed psychiatrist or psychologist.

To be clear, it’s not about “needing” professional help. It’s about you being brave enough to ask for help.

Men are often afraid to do this, the imprinted response is to equate vulnerability with weakness. However, your vulnerability is your truth, and to willingly show that truth to another and not hide from it,  no matter how ugly it may be, takes a great deal of strength.

So toss out that outdated thought and realize that to be willingly vulnerable is to be brave and strong.

And a real man is strong… isn’t he?

But if you’re still apprehensive about exposing yourself, it’s understandable. Luckily we live in an age where privacy is paramount and you can bring the professionals straight to you.

There are plenty of resources available that can bring you the professional assistance you might need via the internet.

Let it Flow

Here’s a secret… you don’t need ANYONE’S permission to express your emotions, even the ones that make you feel terrible.

So when your feeling low, allow yourself to feel that. Your emotions need to be felt by you, intentionally, so that the next time they come around, the feeling is no surprise.

Feeling angry or depressed? Then FEEL angry or depressed! Feeling sad? Then don’t fight the tears.

When you experience your emotions, you’ll begin to think differently about them, you’ll start analyzing them at their roots.

Once you discover what triggers those negative feelings, you can begin figuring out how to best handle them.

Be Accountable

Resilience is born from suffering. Your suffering is actually you being tempered by emotional fire.

As long as you don’t hide your suffering and allow yourself to process the emotions, you will come out stronger than ever.

But once you do, you must do two things:

  1. Recognize the damage that your pain may have caused others and seek their forgiveness.

  2. Recognize the role you’ve played in your own misery, then forgive yourself.

It cannot be stressed enough how much control this grants you. Doing this acknowledges the fact that it was your emotions that brought you to such a dark point.

So, if you brought yourself to that point, it will be you who brings yourself out if it. It is to accept that the choice of how you feel has always been and will always be yours.

Let It All Go

Once you feel like you’ve regained command over yourself again it’s crucial that you let go of the past.

Stop thinking about yesterday and release yourself from your former self.

Remember who he was, his sources of pain, and then look into the mirror and see who he has become.

The experience of the you who once suffered should be acknowledged, but never dwelled upon.

You must always remember that you are not your emotions, so it’s possible to control and part with them when you need to.

However, that will only happen if you express them frequently and healthily.  And that means ALL of them, both good and bad.

Because whether or not society is willing to admit it, real men feel… period.

And you are a real man.

So feel it all, unabashed and unbridled, and then release it when it is all said and done.

Now, let’s come full circle and finally address society’s question regarding men and their feelings.

To be or not to be OK… that is the question.

And ironically, that is also the answer.


Ian Gyan

Ian Gyan

Freelance Copywriter

About the Author

Ian is a Freelance Copywriter. He helps compassionate coaches and leaders reclaim their time, energy, and confidence by creating content strategies that help them channel their higher purpose. A free-thinking ambivert, Ian encourages individuals to walk the path of open-mindedness, compassion, balance, and self-mastery. He loves to exercise, meditate, and cook. He is also an avid reader, writer, poet, and gamer. He currently resides in New Jersey.