If you’ve recently sought treatment as a man, you might have dealt with internal voices telling you not to seek treatment. You might have been afraid that people will think that you are weak for getting help or that having a higher tolerance is just proof that you are a “real man.” You might not fit this, but if you do, then what you’re battling against is toxic masculinity. Men, especially those raised to follow traditional gender roles, struggle with getting help because these beliefs hold them back from seeking treatment.
You might challenge some of those beliefs during treatment, but many don’t recognize that parts of this worldview are part of a much bigger problem. Toxic masculinity is a multi-faceted problem that negatively affects men and their mental health in all areas of their life. Men who force themselves to fit a narrow gender ideal find themselves suffering for it, and these effects don’t just go away after treatment. Until you address internalized toxic masculinity, your mental health and recovery can still be affected.
Toxic Masculinity and How It Limits Your Recovery
Life continues after treatment, and so might your worldview. You’re still influenced by the world around you. Your friends, family, and the media you consume can impact your way of thinking and reinforce toxic ideas. Until you challenge ideas and you learn to grow past them, they’ll still affect you.
Toxic masculinity can affect:
- How well you can feel, understand and process your emotions
- Whether you’re willing to deal with past traumas that might be influencing your addiction
- Your willingness to reach out for help in the future
- Your self-esteem and body image compared to impossible body standards
- Your ability to treat others different than you with compassion
- Open-mindedness to trying new hobbies and activities that might not fit your perceived gender roles
How Healthy Masculinity Can Improve Your Recovery
Toxic masculinity can hold you back, but unlearning things you taught during your childhood and adulthood can make a tremendous difference. Learning how to practice healthy masculinity involves challenging your assumptions about the world and your role in it. It’s questioning your worldview and how it might be hurting you rather than serving you. Here are many ways you can practice healthy masculinity:
- Challenge Body Expectations: Men can have unrealistic standards of how their body looks. It can come from the expectation that men need to have enormous muscles. While physical fitness is a great goal to attain, beating yourself up or putting others down because of their bodies causes more harm. Instead, support others who want to attain healthy fitness goals and see the beauty and value in all bodies. It can help your self-esteem and body image, which will help your mood during recovery.
- Feel Emotions Deeply: If you’re afraid to feel, understand and process your emotions because you’re worried people might think you’re weak, then you’re only holding yourself back from a successful recovery. People with addictions sometimes use substances to deal with emotions, but it only gets worse because they don’t process and understand their feelings. Feeling sad, afraid, happy, and loving others isn’t a weakness. It actually makes you stronger.
- Reach Out to Others for Help: Needing help from your friends, family, and community doesn’t make you weak. You don’t have to go it alone. Leaning on others and opening up about your problems makes you strong because it takes courage to ask for help. Humans are social creatures and lean on their communities for support. It’s how we survive.
- Maintain Deep Friendships: Closeness with others isn’t weird. Don’t let homophobic sentiments keep you from having deep conversations and connections with the people in your life. Don’t be afraid to say I love you. Platonic love and familial love are still powerful and important. Respect boundaries, but don’t close yourself off and hold back because you’re afraid of a deep connection to your loved ones.
The Limitations of Toxic Masculinity
Toxic masculinity hurts men just as much as women. Having a rigid viewpoint of gender expectations and expression limits your ability to be a full human. It limits your ability to try a new experience, develop diverse interests, and be your entire self. There are many assumptions and labels society has put on men that aren’t fair. It’s not true that men are naturally more aggressive than women. That’s a learned behavior. There’s nothing wrong with liking traditionally masculine things or leaning towards masculinity, but it’s important to recognize that masculinity and femininity are fluid. If a person identifies as a man, how they present and what they like makes them just as much of a man as anyone else.
Villa Oasis understands that toxic masculinity can harm a person’s recovery. Having a rigid belief in your gender roles and expression only limits yourself while hurting others in the process. If you identify with masculinity, you can be masculine in a way that’s healthy, affirmative, and supportive of yourself and your community.
You don’t need to fit a limited perspective of what makes you a man. The same can also be said for people who aren’t men but also push harmful stereotypes onto other men. Getting treatment and starting recovery is a powerful feat, but don’t let your worldview limit your recovery. Connect with your emotions, deal with your trauma, and don’t be afraid to love others. There’s more to masculinity than one rigid viewpoint.
Don’t be afraid to embrace it. If you would like to learn more about how toxic masculinity can hurt your recovery and how to overcome it, call us today at (323) 739-8673.