Men, it's OK to see a therapist. Here is why and how to start right now.
Considering getting therapy? Checkout our FREE guide for choosing the right therapy provider, including comparisons between online vs in-person therapists!
Have you ever felt stuck in life? Where you felt like life has lost it’s vibrance, it’s novelty, even it’s enjoyability?
Ever walked out of a meeting angry and not understood why? The last time you fought with your boss, or friend, or dad, did you feel like you weren’t understood, like they just seemed to keep saying the same things over and over? Did you feel like you were saying the same things over and over?
Have you felt scared or sad about something, whether good or bad, for days, weeks, or even months, without telling anyone? Do you ever have thoughts that seem to intrude in, keep you awake, or stop you from enjoying something?
When you got rejected by your dream date, did it take longer to get your mojo back than you would like to say? Do you feel bad about how long it’s been since you last kissed or had sex, or how frequently you do (or don’t) experience these things? Are there people you feel shame about being attracted to?
Have you ever felt insecure about how you look or how you behave?
Was there ever a moment that you didn’t like, or even hated, yourself?
If you are anything like I was, seeing a therapist is something you may consider to be “offside”, absolutely not an option. As in, mental health is not a man’s problem, and therapy is not something that I should not do, need, or even want.
I thought therapy was for weaker guys. It’s for people who can’t handle what life brings, who can’t think or feel independently, for people who lack control over their lives, who require easy explanations to their lack of “manhood”.
Really, my thoughts about “not being one of those lesser men” were projections of my own worries about value and capability onto others. And It was not a pleasant journey to realize that.
The "Wake Up Call"
As a young business leader and entrepreneur, I have valued the sense that I am powerful, supremely able, and necessary for others to succeed. I was most proud of the numbers - the tangible evidence that I had accomplished a lot - from how much money I helped raise to the scalability of the solutions I built with my creativity and intellect. I treasured crushing goals and showing others how to be more like me.
The problem was, and is, that success is fleeting. Securing seed capital does not guarantee a successful venture. A fast technical infrastructure doesn’t bring the traffic it can handle. Having lots of sales and interest in your business today is no promise of future sales. Your business partnership may feel great right now, but things can change, real fast.
As I encountered more failure, I started to see how hyper masculine thinking regularly gets businesses in trouble. I watched as the businesses I collaborated with continually made objectively terrible decisions, which lead to failure, or at least not reaching their potential. Yet there was so little reflection to determine what happened or what went wrong.
And then, I started to notice that the same patterns were happening with my male friends in their lives, too. They’d communicate with me and others ineffectively, or obviously lack honesty or sincerity when they dealt with difficult situations.
I could no longer ignore the obvious: all those good traits men want to associate themselves with, like risk taking, confidence, decisiveness, and a willingness to engage with high amounts of pain were, at times, out of control.
So I decided to learn about the human psyche, especially so the typical male, in as much depth as possible. I made an appointment with a therapist, thinking they could explain our tendencies better than anybody else I had immediate access to.
But within a few sessions, it became clear that the more pressing need was to understand myself better. As that happened, not only did I see the very patterns I was so critical of, but I began to learn ways to overcome them and get past the problems they caused in both my career and my personal life.
I realized that the depression and anxiety my doctor had told me I was experiencing could be alleviated by learning to better understand where my emotions came from, what their purposes are, and how I could use that to figure out my needs, wants, and how to satisfy them in the healthiest way possible. It reduced my internal and external judgement reflexes and allowed me to communicate more clearly with my romantic interests, my colleagues, and the people we all deal with every single day.
I realized I was stuck and frustrated in all arenas of life, and ready to experience a helluva lot more.
Still Not Convinced?
Perhaps you’ve been asked to go to therapy by a partner, parent, child, or colleague. Or maybe you’ve been wanting to start tackling some issues, whether its depression, anxiety, ADHD, suicidal thoughts, a breakup, body image issues, or any other mind problem. Or maybe you are just stuck, and want to accelerate forward again.
The first step is allowing yourself to see any reason that you may have to get help from a therapist a good reason to do so. You aren’t less because you are talking about your problems. Consider: is it worse to let something continue to hold you back for the sake of saying you were strong enough, or to remove an impediment so you can get more out of your life without it’s restraint?
Let’s talk about what you need to consider once you manage to give yourself permission to go.
Who should I talk to, and how should I talk to them?
It may seem obvious that you just call a local therapist and book an appointment, but you actually have way more choices than that. You should take a few minutes to consider some questions and factors that could influence what you choose.
First and most importantly, what do you want to talk about? Take a moment to articulate some of the key things you might discuss. If you’ve got a general feeling that things aren’t right, but you’re not sure exactly what, don’t fret too much. Most therapists are trained to get to the root of it all and understand the brain well enough to help you learn what precisely is happening.
Would you feel more comfortable talking to a specific gender? You should be aware that, generally speaking, the gender of your therapist does not influence outcomes. However, there are exceptions. It might be hard for some men to talk to a woman about his love life (or rather, his lack thereof), especially if it is a source of shame for him. On the other hand, some men may feel more comfortable admitting certain things to a woman than a man. It is important that you do what feels comfortable and right.
Even beyond that, there are even more practical matters to think about:
- How urgently do you need help?
- How frequently do you want to meet to discuss these issues? How hard will it be to fit it in your schedule?
- What are you able to afford right now, and how likely will you be able to afford your same choice in the future?
- How worried are you about other people finding out you are going to a therapist?
What else should I do while I get therapy?
There are lots of things you should do while you are receiving therapy!
Some common activities that increase the likelihood of success for various therapies include:
- Medication - depends on your situation, so talk to your doctor!
OK, I know what I want, how do I contact/choose a therapist?
Once you’ve determined the parameters under which you want to engage a therapist, you should consider your service options. It being 2020, you’ve got more options than you might realize. Here is our minutes-long interactive guide that will determine the best way for you to access a therapist. It will even give you options for connecting with one right away!
Ultimately, therapy made me a more effective risk-taker, decision-maker, communicator, leader, and friend. While I still struggle (and see my therapist regularly!), I am not alone, and every aspect of my life has improved the more I’ve let go of tired ideas that prevented me from getting help.
Please consider checking out our minutes long guide that will help you find the right way to access a therapist. Whatever you decide, good luck!