Viewing entries tagged
Couples & Family Therapy

Big Boys Don't Cry...

Big Boys Don't Cry...

IMG_2415 3.JPG

We all know that when you throw down the gauntlet, most guys are up for a challenge…

Are you ready to tackle the next ‘Tough Mudder’ in record time?
Sure! Let me show you who’s boss!
Ready to dismantle the kitchen garbage disposal, blindfolded, with dinner guests about to arrive?
Easy mate, I can do that, while still juggling the BBQ!
How about changing the nappy of your child, while in an airplane toilet stall at 30 thousand feet, while experiencing turbulence?  
Come on, that’s old school dad stuff! Would you like me to land the plane too?
How about coming to therapy?
You’re bloody joking right?!
So… we struck a nerve.

Why the adverse reaction? Why do some men suddenly develop a phobia when presented with the idea of seeing a psychotherapist? In my professional opinion, I suspect there are three reasons.

1. Society has expectations that men must be independent, bulletproof, and have the world in the palm of their hands.

2. Men are not taught the language of verbal, emotional expression.

3. The counseling and psychotherapy profession has not fully accommodated the therapeutic needs of men.

Because of these reasons, many men are willing to sit in their pain, while hoping they can push through it, using the same old tired tactics. Most of this is an attempt to show the world that they have both the answers and solutions and that they will fix themselves by the end of the business day.

Let’s explore these reasons a bit further…

Society has done a wonderful job in shaping how men should view themselves. Men are labeled in so many different ways these days, whether it’s trending or not, the story that many guys portray isn’t necessarily their own. Think of labels like ‘metrosexual’, ‘lumbersexual’, ‘retrosexual’, ‘technosexual’ and even ‘spornosexual’. Many of these social narratives are placed heavily on men’s shoulders right from a young age. These labels are created to reinforce our expectations of men and how they should think and behave towards themselves towards women, with their children and other men. 

If society says that men must think of themselves as untouchable and indestructible - then naturally men aren’t going to seek help when they really need it.

The stigma of reaching out for help is both internalized (there’s no way that I will admit that something is wrong) and externalized (he better not fall off his horse and crash). That is an incredibly powerful force in shaping our ideas about masculinity and how we think about ourselves.

As a consequence, many men are never taught (or even expected) to be able to openly express themselves or experience their emotions.

When men are asked to ‘express themselves’ they come up short. Because they haven’t had any real training in this, they don’t necessarily have the right type of vocabulary to communicate what’s really going on inside. Now, that’s real pressure. In many circumstances, this is viewed as avoidance or resistance, and some men are portrayed as ‘emotionally void’ or even just ‘bumbling idiots’. It’s not a case of unwillingness but a simple lack of capability.

Subsequently, men struggle to express what’s really happening behind the kimono and the cycle of shame and despair is perpetuated; their needs get buried deeper, problems never get resolved and their relationships suffer.

What can we do to help men, help themselves?

Offering gender-specific services, practices, and environments that honor the diverse needs of men is a practical way of engaging more men in therapy. 

Services that address the typecasting or labeling that has commonly deterred them, using language that suits men's thinking will help minimize the uncertainty and misconceptions of therapy and open the door to endless possibilities. Hopefully, men can then come out of the trenches and live authentically without fear of reprisal or isolation. If men were confident that this was available to them, then more might actually be willing to engage in services that create a meaningful, healing experience.

If you think your man is hurting and needs help, or if you’re a bloke who has known for some time that things aren’t 100% right, then call me on 512-470-6976 for a free phone consultation.

Arohanui, Simon

Simon Niblock is an Austin TX based, Marriage and Family Therapy Associate who is dedicated to helping men, couples and families find peace, direction and meaning within their relationships.

Call Simon on 512-470-6976 to book an appointment today.

CLICK HERE TO EMAIL

 

 

 

Keep Calm and Have a Cuppa Tea, Love.

Keep Calm and Have a Cuppa Tea, Love.

Image by Mike Nkiec on  Flickr

Image by Mike Nkiec on Flickr

Keep Calm and Have a Cuppa Tea, Love.

English breakfast, Irish breakfast, Earl Grey, Darjeeling, Assam, Ceylon, Green tea, Oolong, Masala Chai, Rooibos. If you’re a purveyor of tea, you understand that the range of this distinctly unique beverage is endless. You will also appreciate that having a cup of tea, also known as a ‘cuppa’ to those with English heritage, is more than having a hot drink. 

It’s almost magical. Let me explain…

I can recall seeing my grandmother make a pot of tea even as young as five or six years of age. Tea was a staple in our house – more so than coffee. For those who have had the pleasure of drinking tea as part of their daily routine, you can appreciate the relaxing, calming effect that tea produces. We didn’t have the fancy stuff like we do today. This was strong black tea, with plenty of full cream milk and a few good spoonful’s of sugar to sweeten things up. There is something about tea that instantly transports me back to memories of family and friends sitting around the kitchen table.

The other amazing thing about tea is that the moment that the first sip is consumed, the chaos that may have been encircling our world at the time, appears to magically ebb away. Tea for some unknown reason makes things feel better. Many people will describe that during moments of personal or family difficulty, it would not be out of place for someone to put the kettle on, or boil the jug to make a pot of tea. Life’s challenges were a wee bit easier to cope with once a good, strong, hot cuppa tea was shared. If a plate of biscuits (cookies) were offered, you knew that it was a special moment.

I’ve been fascinated about this experience, as I know many other people who describe the similar soothing, grounding, calming effects of drinking tea. I’ve often wondered if this experience is all just my imagination or whether there’s any real medicinal value from drinking this amber liquid? Intriguingly, there’s actually been a fair bit of research behind this phenomenon - yes, someone’s actually done research on this subject.

According to researchers (tea nerds), tea is known to reduce anxiety levels, increase positivity, induce relaxation and encourage interpersonal connections with others. Evidently, tea offers true psychopharmacological benefits due to an amino acid called Theatine. Theatine has an affect on our alpha brain waves which induces a calmer, clearer and relaxed state of mind. Groovy stuff.

On the other hand, I’ve wondered whether the stress reduction effects of tea are simply due to the social nature of sharing a cup? Again, research describes that the act of making and sharing a cup of tea for someone promote real social attachments. Part of this may explain why I think tea made by someone else always tastes better than if I made it myself. This is why I love to make tea for my wife each morning. A bit of love goes in every cup. 

Evidently, sharing a cup of tea with someone can create feelings of companionship and affection. The ritual associated with tea making is deeply rooted in many cultures. It offers immediate comfort and social connection for many. It promotes feelings and behaviors that lead to secure interpersonal connections, particularly the emotions associated with trustworthiness. There’s a feeling of genuine connection when friends and family sit around the table to share a ‘cuppa’.

So, the next time that you feel that the world is about to crumble down on you, call a friend over and put on the kettle. Life will be ok.

Arohanui, Simon

Simon Niblock is an Austin TX based, Marriage and Family Therapy Associate who is dedicated to helping couples and their families find peace, direction and meaning within their relationships. 

Contact Simon on 512-470-6976 to start a conversation.

CLICK HERE TO CONNECT

References:

Cross, M.C., & M.R. (DATE). The social psychological effects of tea consumption on stress. Retrieved from www.teaemergency.com.

Andrew, S., Gibson, E., Vuononvirta, R., Williams, E., Hamer, M., Rycroft, J., Erusalimsky, J., Wardle, J. (2007). The effects of tea on psychophysiological stress responsivity and post-stress recovery: a randomised double-blind trial. Psychopharmacology, Vol.190(1), pp.91-91.