10 Ways Men Contribute to Their Own Unhappiness and What to Do
There are ways men experience these blocks to happiness that are unique to men. Women experience some of these blocks to happiness too, sometimes similarly to men as well. The main reason I focus on how men get in the way of their own happiness is because we have a unique obstacle related to the fact that men do not open up to each other and create support networks for themselves the way women do. Women will open up to each other about feeling awkward about being alone, getting dumped, having family problems, money or work problems, having anxiety, being depressed, or feeling hurt and then relate and share in these common human experiences so they do not feel alone. Men don't. In many ways it is taboo, an unwritten law of social relations between men. Men then feel isolated because they socially ostracize themselves, thinking that if others knew they would be outcast. Men need a community where they can open up and relate these experiences, or at least read about how common it is for men and know they are not alone in their experience. Complete isolation is one of the worst possible things for someone going through intense emotions, especially when it is relationship oriented. Men are at greater risk because of this tendency toward isolation.
So again, the ultimate key to self-development is finding your joy and happiness... So here are 10 ways that men contribute to their own unhappiness and what can be done about it:
1) Comparing yourself to others - Success, money, looks, car, penis size (yes, men do this via media or hearing about ex-boyfriends and getting jealous), relationship status, sexual performance... the list can go on.
Remedy: Totally accept where you are at, and start from there. Coming to full self-acceptance and embrace yourself for who you truly are, as is. This is the most powerful antidote for unhappiness. Denial will only hold up the process, so let go. Sometimes this can seem contradictory to self-development, but letting go and accepting is the first step to getting on your path.
2) Getting too caught up in productivity - Many men's identity is caught up in work, or making a certain amount of money. Again, this can be related to an external standard- imposed by a boss or comparison to how well others are doing, or the way you think you should be instead of accepting where you are at now and building from there. This can be a source of workaholism, and men become absent even in the presence of their friends and/or families, leading to feelings of disconnectedness. Lack of self-acceptance may play a role in this, anxiety, or the feeling that nothing is ever good enough. All too often men get angry that they are not where they want to be and this stalls progress until acceptance of where one is at is reached. As a result, men can become self-punishing and put in way too many hours, burning themselves out. Perfectionism is one of many ways anxiety presents itself. If any if these factors is the case for you, go back to #1 and re-read.
Remedy: This is where it gets tricky. Being productive is part of successful self-development. This is why self-acceptance back at step 1 is so important. Success must be defined on your terms. When pushing yourself on a path of self-development the key is that rather than comparing yourself to others, compare the you of today to the you of yesterday. If you have improved toward your self-defined goal of success, that is the standard. Not someone else's definition of what it means to be successful.
With regard to overwork, find other areas of enjoyment outside of work. Work will always be there, so why not come back to it refreshed, energized, and ready to be totally focused. If there is something you cannot avoid that does not make you happy, try to find a way to make it more pleasant for yourself so that you are not miserable.
Also, maybe misery isn't that bad. It can be exactly what you need to step back and reflect on ways to move forward that will help you feel happy.
3) Not working hard enough - This may seem contradictory, but some men have different values or something that they genuinely aspire to, and if they aren't pursuing it they are going to feel this nagging discontent. Also, when men have big aspirations and aren't meeting them, they often interpret this as failure and give up before the job is done. Focusing so strongly in that big outcome can make it seem like the large amount of work you have done was not much, though the opposite is true.
This is relevant to men who are experiencing depression, in cases when depression is one factor holding them back from achieving what they know they are capable of.
Remedy: Start putting the pieces in place and putting that extra bit of work in toward your dream. If you are not sure what it is you want to do, then the remedy is gaining clarity about this. If you are clear, then focus on each step you take toward your goal (small chunking). Do not focus on the end goal itself. If you become too fixated on the outcome, and not each successive step toward it, you risk demoralizing yourself. This is where people lose big momentum, and then give up prematurely because they perceive that they have failed. Consistent, persistent action towards the outcome you want leads to success.
4) Not accepting yourself for where you are at - All those successful CEO's have the same mantra nowadays... "Embrace discomfort!!!" The idea is that fighting feeling bad only makes the bad feelings worse- bad feelings are only temporary. Build up with small doses, like the idea of small chunking from #3.
Remedy: Come to acceptance. Take an existential perspective- what you are going through now, good or bad, is only temporary. Coming to acceptance with whatever that it is the path of least resistance through bad times... letting go of good times once they pass opens you up to the next good possibility- accept this as well.
5) Stop avoiding your problems - Your problems are not going away by themselves. Avoiding them only increases the dread of having to face them, and increase your unhappiness.
Remedy: I learned from a mentor long ago to do the things I dread first, and then everything else after that feels easier to accomplish. This can also be put into a personal growth perspective- nothing ever goes away until it teaches you what you need to know. Remembering the existential perspective from #4 will help here as well.
6) Too attached to specific outcomes that are out of your control - This is similar to getting too caught up in productivity, but applies in other areas of life as well. If you're working so hard you are burning out, chances are that you are too focused on the outcome you haven't met rather than honing your focus on the small chunks toward the bigger goal. Likewise, when it comes to dating or relationships, men often beat themselves up if the woman they're interested in says no. Whether she says yes or no is totally out of your control! My regular readers will remember my story about this. My focus was on my own behavior, whether I took the bold step to ask the woman out or not instead of whether she said yes or no.
Remedy: Focus on you own behavior, not the outcome that is out of your control. Placing focus on the outcome usually only amounts to discouragement and self-doubt, prematurely giving up your goal. When it comes to relationships, take her off that pedestal. Instead of seeing her as the prize, focus on the goal of where you want to be as the prize. Love yourself. That does not mean degrading women. That is a clear sign of low self-esteem.
When it comes to work, hone your focus on the work you put in toward the outcome your are working toward everyday. Embrace reality, what is, and glean the lesson from there and reorient the direction you're aiming at. Creating a daily habit or daily practice is an integral path to mastery. Mastery helps you to become aware of the depth of your strength, which is more than your mind will allow you to believe without actually experiencing it first. The satisfaction that comes with mastery of something helps create a sense of happiness that is impenetrable.
7) Staying in an relationship that is bad for you - This can be a dysfunctional or even an abusive relationship. That word tends to lead to confusion. Abuse is not only physical, but can be verbal, emotional, as well as neglect. Men tend not to report or admit they have been abuse due to intense feelings of shame. The fact is that men can be victims of abuse at the hands of a woman within relationships as well.
A bad relationship can also involve a lot of drama, or instead of playing equal patterns in the relationship men can be put in the role as therapist for their pattern who needs to seek professional help of their own. This is especially true for nice guys, willing to listen and help, putting their now needs on the back burner.
Remedy: When caught in a negative feedback loop of negative habits, or negative addictive patterns of a dysfunctional relationship, it is important to start to establish a positive feedback loop to counteract the negative one. Building small daily habits can be unexpectedly effective. Some people also call this positive addictions. Working out is one clear example of a positive addiction. Once you go a couple of times and get past the soreness and inconvenience, your mind will naturally seek out the endorphin release that comes from working out. Any anxiety or daily worry you experience will decrease, and your overall sense of well-being increases. That sort of happiness is hard to argue with.
If you have been abused and feel shame that led you to keeping it secret, find a professional trained to help guide you through this experience. Or if you're feeling worn down and emotionally exhausted by your pattern, it might be time to break the enmeshment.
8) Competing at every turn - Many men LOVE competition. They will compete any chance they get. The cliche that men would rather be right than happy is a cliche for a reason. This is typically a conflict in the romantic relationships of men. But this can play out in friendships as men tend not to support each other in their vulnerability, they relate through competing. This can involve ridiculing each other when their vulnerable. More often men ridicule the idea of other men being vulnerable and this serves as the block for men to express this vulnerability to their friends...
Remedy: Stop competing! Well, not completely. Compete only in areas where competing actually benefits you. Refer back to the Remedy in #2. Also, if you're feeling vulnerable, your friends probably have too, but just haven't said. Think about trying to communicate with your friends in a different way, deepen the friendship by sharing. Feel free to end sentences with "man." Sometimes it softens the blow. i.e.: "You know, it's been really tough lately, man... You ever go through stuff like that?"
9) Getting rattled by the unknown - Not knowing what the future will bring can be unsettling. But do we ever really know?
Remedy: Learn to be good with uncertainty - "I find that the knowing of what is coming in the future is directly proportional to the lack of interest in it. Ironic, no?" Embracing uncertainty helps surmount feelings of helplessness that can detour you from your goals. This usually goes hand in hand with letting go of your attachment to the outcome of whatever you're looking to in the future.
10) Forgetting to ENJOY - not taking anytime to relax, rejuvenate and enjoy life. We all need expansion and contraction. Don't neglect the natural law and need for contraction.
Remedy: Everyday I ask my son, like most fathers, "How was your day?" He started responded in a very typical way of explaining a good day in terms of good behavior, and doing well on his work. His answer got away from what I was really asking him. Instead of trying to get him to unlearn what this question meant for him, I changed up the way I asked to encourage him to think about his day in a different way. I started asking "What about your day did you enjoy?" At the end of each day ask yourself this same question. Savor those good times. Purposefully choose activities that make you happy.
If you're a Nice Guy who is tired of not getting the girl, or feel like you keep getting the short end of the stick in relationships, I will be running an in-person and online group called Self Respect for Nice Guys. I'm here to coach you how to use your authentic personality to your advantage to get the type of attraction you want and find a happy, healthy relationship or turn the tide in one that is not making you happy. No more getting walked all over by women, no more seeing only other guys get the girl. It's your turn now... It's time to make it happen! This is for motivated men who are willing to take the next step, but need some direction. If you want to sign up for this group, do so here: www.selfrespectforniceguys.com. This is more than the regular email list. This group is for men who are ready to be active in the next step in their personal transformation.
Make sure to reserve your spot in the group! Availability is limited... www.selfrespectforniceguys.com
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