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Shame Can Kill 4 Preventive Measures

Shame: for something you did or something you did not do or something you chose- even something you thought. But, what if your shame derives from none of these? What if it has nothing at all to do with these?

Men’s shame can be a result of their boyhood upbringing. It can lead to suicide.

Consider this mother’s story:

“It was a moment that had the potential to change my son’s life.

Nicholas, age 5, came charging into our home from playing outside. He had fallen and scraped his knee. But a Band-Aid wasn’t his ultimate goal. He wanted to cry and get a hug from me, his mom.

As he came into the kitchen, the neighbor I was chatting with put his hand on my son’s shoulder. I thought he was about to say something consoling, so I was shocked by what came out of his mouth.

“Big boys don’t cry,” he told my son sternly”.

Dr. Anju Hurria, a psychiatrist and clinical professor of psychiatry and human behavior at the University of California, Irvine, “Many boys are given specific messages at home that their emotions are shameful. We tell our boys that showing feelings is shameful.”

That shame is hidden and powerful”, says Matt Englar-Carlson, Ph.D., co-director of Cal State Fullerton’s Center for Boys and Men, a clinical and research “hub” inside the school’s department of counseling. The center promotes research and community outreach related to the mental health of boys and men, including the effects of trauma on boys and how their socialization — positive or negative — affects them later in life.

“The results of this “stoic male” ideal”, Hurria says, “are boys who cannot express their feelings, suffer from depression and anxiety, and lack the resiliency to bounce back after hardship”.

“Humans thrive on empathy and engagement,”  Judith V. Jordan, Ph.D., director of the Jean Baker Miller Training Institute at the Wellesley University Center for Women. said. “We need to help our sons feel included and curious about their feelings, not shame them or make them feel bad about their emotions. Hyper-masculinity and individualism hurts boys in particular. It is at odds with our natural inclination to connect.”

“This resulting shame is destructive”. According to Englar-Carlson, “boys are four times more likely to die from suicide and exponentially more likely than girls to be the victims or perpetrators of violence. (Joelle Casteix, Orange County Register, in Detroit Free Press, 7:21 p.m. EDT August 14, 2016)

     This is where Counseling on Demand comes in. We can help you, as parents of young sons to:

  1. Let them be emotionally expressive, curious, kind, caring and compassionate.
  2. Make sure they are safe
    1. On the playground and not open to bullying and taunting.
    2. At home- a safe place for emotional expression and communication, while also teaching sons that the playground or schoolyard may not be the best place for such expression.
    3. To rely on your support- have their back
  3. Really listen finding “pockets” of time — a walk or a drive — during which sons know that it’s safe and OK to talk.
  4. Understand that talking about feelings is coachable and teachable (Op. Cit. Hurria, Jordan)

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I am the Founder and CEO of Counseling On Demand with a Master's Degree in Marriage and Family Therapy with over 25 years of experience in helping Individuals, Couples, Adolescents, and Families who struggle with a wide variety of Life's Challenges. I thus have developed an Array of Effective Counseling Tools and Evidenced-Based Interventions to help you towards Your Road to Better Mental Health and Wellness. You are Never Alone...I look forward to meeting with you or your family member soon!