From the time I started counseling, most of my clients have been women. That’s been slowly changing over the past several years, but even today the majority of people seen at my clinic are women. There seems to be a higher hurdle for men in our culture to admit they need help and to seek out counseling. This was the inspiration behind my newest book, Battles Men Face: Strategies to Win the War Within:
I said earlier that the ratio of women to men in my counseling practice has changed over the years, and one of the driving factors is the prevalence of pornography. This is a tremendously dangerous snare to many men. With the breadth of content available on the internet and the amoral reach of search engines, we live in an age uniquely designed for the lust of the eyes. Pornography is easily accessible, infinitely varied, and, for some men, incredibly compelling.
If pornography is the lust of the eyes, then sex could be said to be the lust of the heart. This is not sex as designed, an intimate merging of two people, but sex as an act of selfish fulfillment. When the act of sex becomes an addiction, it stops being the culmination of a relationship and becomes a physical act to be replicated over and over again, without regard to whom or why – it truly becomes just a what.
Whether slow to burn or quick to explode, anger is a powerful emotion. Banked with the white-hot coals of resentment, bitterness, and frustration, anger is the cause of much of the hurt men find themselves feeling and dispensing. Rage expelled in scalding outbursts provides a sense of release and empowerment. Left unchecked, however, it will eventually consume everything of value in a man’s life.
If anger is the spewing outward of toxic negativity, withdrawal is its inward counterpart, in which a person contracts emotionally into an island of self ever more isolated and fiercely defended. Thus protected, no one is able to get in; however, over time, you just may discover it harder to find your way out.
Each man has a finite amount of time on this earth, and a man, through his choices, determines where he will spend his time and with whom. Work is certainly able to give you a sense of purpose and accomplishment, but what happens when work becomes a curse? What happens when that sense of purpose you’re looking for never seems to be fulfilled? What happens when that sense of accomplishment is always dangling just out of reach? There is no rest; there is no peace; there is no end to work.
Men have a role in family and society, regardless of the current cultural conversation. It is a role of responsibility, of protection and provision. When the rigors of this role and responsibility, of protection and provision. When the rigors of this role and responsibility weigh too heavily, men can seek an escape route through taking on other roles. From weekend warriors to fantasy football, alternate realities that allow you to temporarily put aside your stresses and real-time concerns can be extremely compelling. You might find you’re much happier escaping than you are living.
It’s been said a man’s word is his bond. However, some men seem incapable of not only telling the truth but also living the truth. In work dealings, they are dishonest, unreliable, and untrustworthy, because what they say never actually ends up being what they do. These men leave a trail of frustrated friendships, truncated employments, broken promises, exasperated children, and fed-up spouses behind them. When you live your life saying one thing and doing another, all carefully clothed in excuses and rationales and reasons, you destabilize every relationship you have, including the one with yourself.
Competition is an empowering, motivational experience many of us grew up with. And it wasn’t just the competition that was a blast, it was winning. We like to win. Experiencing a big win is a heady experience. When you’re all about the win, when you’ll wager just about anything for the thrill of risking it all, you just might be.
Eating is pleasurable. Children are told what to eat and what not to eat, but adults make their own choices. Men often make their eating and drinking choices based on what they emotionally want rather than on what they physically need. Year after year, you can find your weight has increased and your health has decreased. You’re not eighteen anymore, and it shows.
If you and/or men you know face one or more of these common challenges, I hope you’ll participate in my 30-day giveaway of Battles Men Face: Strategies to Win the War Within. Starting today, simply share your thoughts, feelings or experiences on the book giveaway posts on my Facebook page and my Twitter page.
Thinking about what you’re doing hasn’t helped you change. Worrying about what you’re doing hasn’t been enough to make it stop. Hoping it would all just go away or wishing that people would just leave you alone so you wouldn’t have to change hasn’t really worked either. Bottom line: it’s time to take this seriously and do something about it.
Dr. Gregory Jantz