“You run like a girl…Man up!… Real men don’t cry…”
Unfortunately, you’ve likely heard one of these stereotypical insults before.
They might seem benign on the surface. But, gender stereotypes are very limiting. They can be quite harmful to our personal health and happiness. Women are supposed to be nurturing and men are supposed to be strong. Society does a great job of telling us what we’re supposed to be, how we should act, and what roles we should play in life. This type of thinking is toxic and can cause people to hold back their feelings and interests to “fit in.”
No one may understand this better than our own therapist Steve Cline.
“Being in the military for 20 years, mental health was always something that was a double-edged sword and the civilian world is no different”, Steve explained. “The expectation was to always be fit for duty and that implied your mental/emotional health but if you struggled with it (as everyone does from time to time) your competency was called into question”, he continued.
Steve also explained a lie that propagated throughout the Army. It was that mental health issues were a sign of weakness. Your worth and ability to do your job would get called into question. You may even lose your security clearance. Then, your track towards promotion could grind to a halt.
In other words, being open about your thoughts, feelings, and mental state could cost you your job. Or, a promotion.
“My final years in the Army were in special operations. We had the highest rate of deployments and time away from families in the military,” Steve said.
Unfortunately, many believed that they’d have to go it alone. Vulnerability and humility are also signs of weakness, incompetence, and lack of manhood.
Yet, this type of thinking about men’s mental health is part of civilian life, too. Men feel like they can’t reach out or communicate their feelings in an open way. They see it as a sign of weakness, not strength and stability.
As Steve continued his journey into Delta Force, he needed to do a psychological exam. He said they wanted to test their emotional intelligence since it was as important as physical fitness. It was to ensure service members could identify, label, and regulate their thoughts and feelings. This was due to the mental and emotional strain that they would face with the type of missions they would carry out.
This toxic mindset and lie lead to many struggling men, husbands, fathers, and families. To help, The US Special Operations Command put out a video. This was to combat the stigma of mental health because of the misunderstanding associated with getting help.
(watch video: here)
Now, Steve Supports other men overcome this toxic mindset
Despite his uphill battle during his decades of service, we’re thankful that Steve is a part of our Foundations Family Therapy Team! He is able to help people through life’s struggles. We honor his resilience and openness about his first-hand experiences over the years. As Steve says so perfectly, “You can’t have peace without conflict; you can’t have victory without struggle; you can’t have bravery without vulnerability and most importantly, you can’t have wholeness and completeness without mental health.”
We’re here to walk with you!
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