According to data collected in 2018 by the American Foundation For Suicide Prevention, the numbers reveal that men died by suicide nearly four times as much as women did. The rate of suicide was seen to be highest in middle-aged, white men.
While being shocking in themselves, these numbers also turn the popular stereotype of men being the stronger sex on its head. One of the other most commonly heard pieces of folk wisdom is that women talk it all out, while men tend to bottle it up and finally explode.
Men tend to mask the fact that they have an emotional, soft, and vulnerable side. This is a burden that they are conditioned to bear from childhood. “Boys don’t cry!” “Don’t be a sissy!” “Be a Man!” “Take it on the Chin!” are some of the stock phrases that parents of a previous era rolled out whenever a son displayed hurt feelings.
Aggressive displays of anger, however, were not frowned upon. In many cases, this led to a projection of anger-related behaviors when the underlying cause was pain or grief.
Boys Should Be Boys (Or Men)
Hyper-masculinity and macho-ness are concepts that may prevent men from getting the psychological help they need when they experience deep pain, fear, sorrow, rejection, depression, etc. In most cultures, displaying any of the softer emotions is considered a sign of weakness.
Many women themselves subscribe to these views, and they may consider a man who displays these emotions to be “effeminate” or “not tough enough,” possibly incapable/not strong in facing his responsibilities, or in taking care of his wife and children, etc.
In prehistoric/ancient times, when gender roles were demarcated, men went out hunting in small, close-knit groups. They could safely talk about their concerns or other “man issues.”
Since it was a smaller group, they felt comfortable and secure. When they returned, it was to a larger group that also consisted of elders who gave guidance on many aspects of life. Today, family size and composition have changed beyond recognition.
Over the last few centuries, societal conditioning has determined how/where/when/what feelings men are allowed to express. As a result, though men are essentially no different from women in experiencing emotions, expressing them is dictated by social norms. The social isolation of men has resulted in deep-rooted psychological trauma.
The recent rise of men’s support groups across the globe offers light at the end of the tunnel. Some of these groups are strictly local, while others span cities, countries, and continents. Whatever their extent, they have several things in common and have become highly successful platforms for men to express themselves without fear of being judged.
While effective, therapy and counseling can be expensive and are also tainted by the stigma of weakness.
Different Types of Men’s Support Groups
A common factor in most support groups, whether they are women’s, teens’, drug and alcohol abuse groups, grief, relationship, or first-time moms’ support groups, is that they comprise a relatively small size of people who come together at scheduled intervals to provide support to each other. The challenges they face can be navigated more effectively through their interactions within the group.
Men’s support groups are no different. They are designed to offer a safe and comfortable space where men can learn to steer through choppy seas of relationships, career challenges, parenting, care-giving, and more.
While stereotyping has been pervasive, men have managed to discover ways to support each other, help each other grow, and share ideas and feelings. These are variously called “clubs,” “think tanks,” “brains trust,” “mastermind,” “syndicate,” etc. and offer support in an informal way, without putting it into so many words.
Self Improvement Support Groups
The benefits of a self improvement support group are manifold. They help men learn skills that will help them to:
- Achieve their potential in work and relationships
- Navigate relationship crises such as divorce in a more healthy way
- Understand and use parenting skills
- Experience true emotions such as joy, grief, pain, etc.
- Experience non-judgmental friendships with other men
- Improve their romantic relationships
- Learn how to communicate effectively with loved ones
- Achieve better mental and emotional health
These groups help men avoid going in for therapy or counseling, thereby saving time and money.
Self Improvement Group Goals and Targets
Men can benefit from being part of a self-improvement support group in several ways. They can get the right information on divorce, child-custody, being a better parent, men’s health issues, aging, etc.
It offers a close circle of friendship with no strings attached. They can embark on a journey of growth, self-discovery, staying connected with loved ones, and how to tackle life-changing issues.
They also learn about commitment, accountability, better communication, and true inner confidence. This group is a safe and secure one, where confidentiality is supreme.
How To Find A Men’s Support Group For Self Improvement
Analyze the format you’re most comfortable with and what is most convenient based on your needs, preferences, and time available. It may be an online support group, a face-to-face one, or one that has a combination of both. Some of them are meetup groups that post information about their sessions to individual members. Others may function online across geographies. Local groups are available in all the world’s major cities, and a simple Google search can help you locate one that’s nearest to you.
Check whether they:
- Offer complete privacy
- Provide solution-based communication
- Offer transparency
- Are moderated
- Provide real challenges and interactions
- Have a climate that supports genuine feedback
- Are not of the coach-centric type
- Avoid promoting a victim mentality
- Offer guidance, but not instructions
- Have some kind of payment option
- Have shared values and goals
Take your time and check out groups that you feel might be of benefit to you. Get recommendations from trustworthy friends, family, or co-workers who share your way of thinking. Keep the goal of self-improvement firmly in mind when you’re looking for a group.
Often, groups may start off with this aim, but they may get diverted somewhere along the line. They may become just a forum to gripe about something, someone, or politics. Watch out for such signs and if the group doesn’t get back on track, leave it with no hard feelings.