** More curbs on govt officials’ foreign trips ** Children take bath in the Buriganga River in Dhaka to ward off the scorching summer heat. This photo was taken from Buriganga embankment on Monday. NN photo ** Taposh wants shops shut early ** Economists differ with 6.22 per cent inflation rate rather it is about 12 per cent ** Public transport services in capital New law with a provision Tk 5 crore fine on cards ** Sweden takes formal decision to apply for NATO membership ** Drug Admin bans eight types of medicines ** Interpol's Dhaka office requests India to send PK Halder back to Bangladesh ** Dollar price jumps to Tk87.50 ** PK Halder to be brought back following set procedure: FM ** Sri Lanka out of petrol, economy in a precarious condition: PM Wickremesinghe ** Social resistance against grabbers a must to protect Tangail, Gazipur hillocks ** PK Halder on 3-day remand in West Bengal ** In front of Gulshan Society Mosque in the capital, a vested quarter filling parts of Gulshan-Banani Lake creating a land bridge effectively bypassing security checkpoints that protect Gulshan North Diplomatic Zone. This photo was taken on Sunday. NN photo ** All necessary steps will be taken to bring PK Halder back: AG ** Russia's ‘brutal invasion’ of Ukraine is faltering: NATO ** Vladimir Putin ‘seriously ill’: Ex British spy claimed ** It may take three to six months to bring back PK Halder: ACC prosecutor ** Ten killed in ‘racially motivated’ shooting in Buffalo, US ** People stand in queue to buy mustard oil from a small mill at Bata Signal in the Elephant Road area of Dhaka on Sunday. One customer is allowed to buy maximum 2 litres of oil, depending on production. Agency photo ** Fugitive chops off policeman's hand in Ctg ** PK Halder hooked in Kolkata: Government's easy plundering policy created too many such cases ** One of PK Halder's mansions in Ward No. 15 of Ashoknagar in North 24 Parganas district which has been sealed by the ED. Photo: Collected ** Scamstar PK Halder arrested in India ** Worse still to come, Lanka’s new PM warns **

Why Men Struggle with Their Emotions

06 April 2022
Why Men Struggle with Their Emotions

Assael Romanelli :
As is the case with many men, it's always been hard for me to know what I'm feeling. I would observe my behavior and from there try to deduct what's going on inside me. I believe this difficulty might have played a role in my choice to be a therapist. Clinical training has taught me firsthand how to better recognize, own, and verbalize my feelings.
Over the last 12 years as a couples therapist, I've met hundreds of men struggling to feel. I've also met hundreds of their partners, feeling alone and frustrated by their emotionally unavailable mates.
An important source of understanding this phenomenon is Cambridge, Mass. psychotherapist Terry Real. His seminal book, I Don't Want to Talk About It: Overcoming the Secret Legacy of Male Depression, describes how boys endure the "loss of the relational"-being forced to separate from their feelings and their mothers on the way to becoming "men." They learn to turn away from their fathers and their own pain toward work, money, success, sex, drugs, and other distractions. They covertly experience depression, which manifests mostly as numbness, boredom, apathy, limited emotional range, and cynicism.
Their partners see them as emotionally handicapped, stoic, cold-hearted-and more. When I begin talking to such men about covert depression, they initially display surprise at the idea of depression but then quickly feel validated and understood. Their partner's eyes light up as a new empathic discourse starts to emerge. Normalizing the emotional struggle of men helps the partners join forces to heal the hidden depression.
Accompanying the covert depression is another crucial phenomenon-what's officially labeled normative male alexithymia. The American Psychological Association defines it as "a subclinical form of alexithymia found in boys and men reared to conform to traditional masculine norms that emphasize toughness, teamwork, stoicism, and competition and that discourage the expression of vulnerable emotions."
The inability to feel or describe emotions-considered normative among men-was what these men (and I) have been suffering from all these years. The fact that it's normative doesn't mean that it's natural or good. In fact, boys are born just as sensitive as girls. But through the socialization process, boys lose permission to feel and become disconnected from their core.
When a man suffers from covert depression and normative male alexithymia, he essentially is surviving and not living. He is not experiencing the whole emotional range and therefore experiences the world as hard, dull, and boring. Over time, his partner forms the impression that he is stoic, boring, and uninterested. Feeling unloved and alone, the partners often become bitter and look elsewhere for emotional companionship.
Reconnecting men to their feelings, expanding their emotional range, and subsequently their emotional eloquence, I began to witness changes in such couples. Hope and newfound animation began to spread through my clinic.
So you want to feel?
Feeling is natural. We're born feeling. But disconnection from feelings is often imposed on boys. Here are some useful suggestions for those wanting to overcome the imposed emotional handicap.
Choose to see that feelings are what make us human. The unique human essence is emotional. Therefore, if you want to enjoy life to its fullest, you must dare to feel the good, the bad, and the ugly.
Expand your emotional range. The wider your emotional range, the livelier you'll be.
Choose to believe that the key to your joy is in your pain, so open yourself to the darker shades of emotions as well as the lighter ones.
Understand that joy is a verb, and therefore must be consciously practiced in order to rewire your brain and inscribe it in your life.
If you do all this, you'll feel free in your relationships, because after all, love is to feel free.
As I apply these processes with men, they begin to open up and share their fears, vulnerabilities, and difficulties with their partners. They bravely stop running away and confront their past, their pain, and their wants. The men are returning to their full self, and their relationships began to flourish.
As for me, the word "feel" is now emblazoned on my arm.
How will you remember to feel?

(Assael Romanelli, Ph.D., is a clinical social worker and a licensed couple and family therapist based in Israel. He offers online individual, couple, and family therapy. Assael trains and lectures internationally about therapy, relationships and improvisation).

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