Men And Stress: The Messages To “Be Strong!”
It is a well-understood that men in general are at higher risk for heart disease, diabetes and a myriad of other illnesses that may be related to unmanaged stress. Everyone has stress. This is planet earth and it would be pretty difficult to never have any. For more than 30 years, our company,
has been researching and developing emotional balancing technologies aimed at resolving long-term sources of stress. Our research process led us to study how and why people experience and manage stress. From what we observed, men respond to stress quite differently than women. In our experiences, men tended to be more accepting of stress and distress in their lives than women. For men, emotional stress is often accepted and incorporated into their lives as a “normal” condition of life. While the mental and emotional burdens of unmanaged stress might be “normal,” they are in no way natural.
In our observations, men tended to accept incompatible relationships that were often highly stressful as a normal part of life, enduring the relationships over decades without considering making a change. The approach for many men was to adjust as best they could and try not to rock the boat. Women, on the other hand, were more inclined to express their dissatisfaction and consider alternatives including counseling. I am not saying that this is true for all men or all women but that we clearly catalogued the trends that I have just described.
In our work, we noticed that men also accepted incompatible sexual relationships as normal, even though the lack of a regular sex all by itself produced long-term emotional imbalances. As former therapists, we often used the diagnostic concepts of Eric Berne author of Games People Play. In the 1950’s Berne defined five key Drivers or modes of operation that included: Be Perfect, Try Hard, Hurry Up, Please Others and Be Strong. Drivers are directives that we pick up from the people around us in the process of growing up and they set up an internal mode of operation. The “Be Strong” Driver is common in many men who were told either directly or indirectly not to express their feelings.
Often Driver mechanisms are conveyed indirectly. But, in some cases, parents conveyed the Be Strong Driver quite directly in with mandates such as:
“Big boys don’t cry.”
“Real men don’t cry.”
“Don’t be a sissy.”
Drivers are characteristic ways of behaving, which can be strengths under some conditions, but may become weaknesses under stress. The Driver becomes a force that governs much of the person’s behavior and ultimately influences a person’s life script. A man with Be Strong Driver might have a superman kind of script.
The point is that these messages from early childhood form electromagnetic circuitry in the consciousness at the subatomic level. This circuitry became the pathways through which energy or life force must flow. If a man’s circuitry has been formed around a Be Strong Driver, his system has limited pathways for processing emotional stress. That emotional stress has to go somewhere and where it often goes is into the physical body.
Let’s take Joe for example. Joe grew up in a family with three sisters and an alcoholic father who was unstable and occasionally violent. Joe learned early on that in order to survive in his family he was going to have to “Be Strong” and keep his fears and sorrows to himself. Furthermore, he was going to have to help carry his mother’s distress so that she could continue to take care of him and his three sisters. Joe grew up and married someone who was looking for a husband to help carry her emotional problems rather than managing them herself. He and his wife are not very well matched and they have not had a satisfying sex life in more than a decade. Joe was right at home when he met his wife. All the circuitry was in place to help carry her problems. Joe is also filled with emotional stress.
For Joe, this is all “normal.” Joe also has been under stress at work. He has a highly demanding and not very supportive boss. So during the day, Joe accepts the bad behavior of his boss as “normal.” His Be Strong Driver tells him not to share his feelings of hurt and anger at his work situation with anyone. His Be Strong Driver tells him not to share his distress at work with his wife because it would be more than she could handle. Joe’s system is continuously absorbing emotional stress with very few outlets. Occasionally he takes a walk and that helps. But, the amount of distress he takes in is far greater than he is releasing.
The key to stress management is to have an internal system that has the circuitry to allow stressful emotional impacts to be continuously processed and released. If you have no such system, then your body becomes the absorber of stressful emotional experiences. Over time, organs just cannot take that impact. Thus, we have so many stress-related illnesses.
Your mental health is your most valuable asset. If you are accepting pain, distress and dissatisfaction as “normal” consider that it might be normal but accumulated, unmanaged stress is not natural. Even superman needs support and relief from stress. Maybe it is time to reevaluate the price of “normal” life.
If you have questions or would like more information, contact Mary Miller at [email protected] or call 508-944-4250.
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