After posting an article I wrote, Old Creeds vs. New Creeds, to my site I was talking to a friend from ThirdPath Institute about societal expectations for men and she recommended Terrence Real’s book “I Don’t Want To Talk About It: Overcoming the Secret Legacy of Male Depression” to me. Chapter Five: Perpetrating Masculinity made me realize that Dr. Real understood and articulated what I was feeling and writing about. Dr. Real’s book fits in with life balance because he speaks to men, women, couples and children. He knows about relationships.
Some of you have noticed that I have posted a book on My Reading List on my Squidoo page Who is David B. Bohl? titled “I Don’t Want To Talk About It: Overcoming the Secret Legacy of Male Depression” by Terrence Real. When I say “noticed”, I mean you’ve wondered to me what that’s all about.
It is true – Dr. Real’s book is about men and depression. But it is so much more. I think the book jacket does a great job when it states: “I Don’t Want To Talk About It offers great wisdom, hope, and practical guidance to men and their families. This is one of the most important and straightforward books ever written about men.”
What I get most from Terrence Real’s book is a person who understands me. If you’ll indulge me for a moment, I’ll explain.I was writing an article that wound up being titled Old Creeds vs. New Creeds. Here’s how it started:
“Life balance. How do we attain a balanced life today amid all of societal expectations? Many of us were raised and lived our lives believing: I’m the man. In order to be a man, I have to shut my mouth and keep things to myself. I have to bury my emotions, and I can’t make mistakes. If I do, I certainly can’t let anybody know that I did, and, above all, I have to quietly solve my own problems without anybody knowing that I had any in the first place. If I show fear, that’s a sign of weakness, making me something “less” than a man. Not only should I remain stoic, but I’m also expected to put up a front that everything in my world and in my life is great, especially to those who are closest to me.
On top of all that, I’m expected to be the bread winner and have a constant innate drive to always get ahead and be more than I am today. I am what I do. I am judged by what I acquirehouse, car, real estate, money. Successful people don’t have to play by the rules; they can leave work early to play golf. I am expected to work only long enough to accumulate massive wealth and massive toys. Then, to show that I’ve arrived, I can retire early, lead a life of leisure, and live off my investments. But do we have to wait that long to live a balanced life?
Traditionally, a man’s profession and his ability to bring home a paycheck have defined who that man was. Most of us grew up believing in the conventional symbols of manhood wealth, power, and status. As a result, there are clear emotional and financial costs involved in making other choices.”
Now none of that sounds particularly cheery, but there is good news: traditional definitions of what it means to be a man are being questioned. Some of us have realized that we want to be involved with our families without sacrificing income or opportunity for advancement. Time has become the new currency in our lives, and we want more of it.
Some time after I had written this article and published it on my Web page, a good friend over at the ThirdPath Institute and I had a conversation about the very subject of societal expectations for men, and she recommended Terrence Real’s book to me.
It didn’t take long for me to get into the book – it grasped me from the beginning, but when I arrived at Chapter Five: Perpetrating Masculinity, I truly found that Dr. Real understood and articulated what I was feeling and writing about, and that a forum did indeed exist for this discussion.
As I look over some of my notes from the book, here’s what I’ve written:
- Men are not supposed to be vulnerable.
- Pain is something we have to rise above.
- He who has been brought down by pain will see himself in a shameful light, as will family and friends – it carries with it the same stigma as feminine “emotionality.”
- While growing up, men are encouraged to develop their public, assertive selves but are pushed away from emotional expressiveness and making and appreciating deep connection.
- Many men are unpracticed in, and even wary of, introspection.
- Society doesn’t like men to be very emotional and vulnerable.
- Men use double negatives to describe masculinity – not weak, not dependent.
- Acquiring masculinity is a move away from something devalued, not a move towards something valued.
And the list goes on ….
Terrence Real gets it. His approach is common sense and it is backed by much experience.
How does this fit in with Life Balance? Simple. Dr. Real’s work speaks to men, women, couples, and children. He knows about relationships.
For those who want a further taste of Dr. Real, check out his blog. You just might find something there for you.
Here’s my article Old Creeds vs. New Creeds.
Here’s an article I wrote with suggestions for setting your own expectations: Work-Life Balance for Men.