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5 Facts About Anxious Men to Help You Help Them

5 Facts About Anxious Men to Help You Help Them

There is a growing awareness of mental health issues in the United States. From athletes, celebrities, actors, and so forth, many public figures have come forth and admitted their struggle with one form of social anxiety or another. For that reason, we have compiled a list of information to remember if you happen to be in a relationship with a man with one of these anxiety disorders. They are more prevalent and less debilitating that one might think, but anxiety is still there and still may have an effect on a relationship. Just remember these points about anxious men and you’ll be golden.

1. He loves you back so much it scares him

Anxious men are not incapable of love. In fact, they may desire it much more than most other men would. However, what sets anxious men apart is that love for them is in some way painful or difficult; it just raises so many more questions for his ever restless brain. So when you say, “I love you,” or show affection, and he only grunts back to you, it’s because many thoughts are racing through his head, and he can’t even begin to organize them.

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2. It’s not something he can just get over

A small segment of society is still afraid of mental illness, and, in response to anxiety or other, more severe mental issues, that segment is likely to say something like, “Oh, he will grow out of it,” or “Shut up and be a man.” The best way I’ve ever seen this illustrated was via a simple Internet cartoon, in which placed side-by-side were a picture of a man with his arm cut off, and picture of a man with his metaphorical heart cut out. In the one on the with the arm cut off, the doctor was saying, “Maybe it’s just all in your head!” That was designed to illustrate how real anxiety is–its not something that can just be gotten over– it must be treated the same way a severed arm would, which is with long-term care and adjustment.

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3. He is constantly being told his anxiety makes him not a man

The historical stereotype of the ultimate male is one of an emotionally-impervious, self-sufficient he-man who can withstand and overcome anything. In his book, Real Boys: Rescuing Our Sons From the Myths of Boyhood, author William Pollock lays out how this stereotype not only handicaps males than are sensitive to the outside world, but also contributes to their anxiety. What I’m saying is, that if a man is anxious about something, then, due to historical gender roles, he may become anxious about being anxious, creating a downward spiral of nervousness.

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4. If he feels safe around you and you prove yourself, he will become an enduring pillar of strength for you

Because he has had to learn to hide his emotions, it might take a while for you to get a anxious man to open up. But once he does, he will be intensely loyal. This man will likely have spent years fighting an image of himself as an emotional weakling, so he will have a bevvy of coping mechanisms and ways to control negativity coming either from outside stimuli or internal thought processes, and, if you give him time, he can teach you these defense mechanisms and much, much more.

5. He will be somewhat afraid to speak about his anxiety in public, but he will recognize the need to do so

All guys, not just anxious ones, know how to ignore their feelings, sublimating sports or video games or music to cover the reality of the thoughts in their heads. But anxious men, once they get their thoughts under control, will eventually come around to the idea of educating others on how it affects them, because, at a time in America when public massacres are consistently committed by men with mental health issues, they will feel the need to reassure people that most men ARE able to grow and cope with their issues, and only the smallest fraction degenerate towards any type of violence.

Featured photo credit: Man Nervously Biting Lip/GianluK via flickr.com

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Last Updated on July 10, 2020

How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

We all have them—those hurtful, frustrating, offensive, manipulative people in our lives. No matter how hard we try to surround ourselves with positive and kind people, there will always be those who will disrespect, insult, berate, and misuse you if we allow them to.

We may, for a variety of reasons, not be able to avoid them, but we can determine how we interact with them and how we allow them to interact with us.

So, how to take control of your life and stop being pushed around?

Learning to set clear firm boundaries with the people in our lives at work and in our personal lives is the best way to protect ourselves from the negative effects of this kind of behavior.

What Boundaries Are (And What They’re Not)

Boundaries are limits

—they are not threats or ultimatums. Boundaries inform or teach. They are not a form of punishment.

Boundaries are firm lines—determined by you—which cannot be crossed by those around you. They are guidelines for how you will allow others to treat you and what kind of behaviors you will expect.

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Healthy personal boundaries help protect you from physical or emotional pain. You may also need to set firm boundaries at work to ensure you and your time are not disrespected. Don’t allow others to take advantage of your kindness and generosity.

Clear boundaries communicate to others that you demand respect and consideration—that you are willing to stand up for yourself and that you will not be a doormat for anyone. They are a “no trespassing” sign that makes it very clear when a line has been crossed and that there will be consequences for doing so.

Boundaries are not set with the intention of changing other people. They may change how people interact with you, but they are more about enforcing your needs than attempting to change the general behavior and attitude of others.

How to Establish Boundaries and Take Control of Your Life

Here are some ways that you can establish boundaries and take control of your life.

1. Self-Awareness Comes First

Before you can establish boundaries with others, you first need to understand what your needs are.

You are entitled to respect. You have the right to protect yourself from inappropriate or offensive behavior. Setting boundaries is a way of honoring your needs.

To set appropriate boundaries, you need to be clear about what healthy behaviors look like—what healthy relationships look like.

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You first have to become more aware of your feelings and honest with yourself about your expectations and what you feel is appropriate behavior:

  • Where do you need to establish better boundaries?
  • When do you feel disrespected?
  • When do you feel violated, frustrated, or angered by the behavior of others?
  • In what situations do you feel you are being mistreated or taken advantage of?
  • When do you want to be alone?
  • How much space do you need?

You need to honor your own needs and boundaries before you can expect others to honor them. This allows you to take control of your life.

2. Clear Communication Is Essential

Inform others clearly and directly what your expectations are. It is essential to have clear communication if you want others to respect your boundaries. Explain in an honest and respectful tone what you find offensive or unacceptable.

Many people simply aren’t aware that they are behaving inappropriately. They may never have been taught proper manners or consideration for others.

3. Be Specific but Don’t Blame

Taking a blaming or punishing attitude automatically puts people on the defensive. People will not listen when they feel attacked. It’s part of human nature.

That said, you do not need to overexplain or defend yourself. Boundaries are not open to compromise.

Sample language:

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  • “You may not…yell or raise your voice to me…”
  • “I need…to be treated with respect…”
  • “It’s not okay when…you take things from my desk without asking…”
  • “I won’t…do your work…cover for you anymore…”
  • “It’s not acceptable when…you ridicule or insult me…”
  • “I am uncomfortable when…you use offensive language”
  • “I will no longer be able to…lend you money…”

Being able to communicate these without sounding accusatory is essential if you want others to respect your boundaries so you can take control of your life.

4. Consequences Are Often Necessary

Determine what the appropriate consequences will be when boundaries are crossed. If it’s appropriate, be clear about those consequences upfront when communicating those boundaries to others.

Follow through. People won’t respect your boundaries if you don’t enforce them.

Standing our ground and forcing consequences doesn’t come easily to us. We want to be nice. We want people to like us, but we shouldn’t have to trade our self-respect to gain friends or to achieve success.

We may be tempted to let minor disrespect slide to avoid conflict, but as the familiar saying goes, “if you give people an inch, they’ll take a mile.”

It’s much easier to address offensive or inappropriate behavior now than to wait until that behavior has gotten completely out of hand.

It’s also important to remember that positive reinforcement is even more powerful than negative consequences. When people do alter the way they treat you, acknowledge it. Let people know that you notice and appreciate their efforts.

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Final Thoughts

Respect is always a valid reason for setting a boundary. Don’t defend yourself or your needs. Boundaries are often necessary to protect your time, your space, and your feelings. And these are essential if you want to take control of your life.

Start with the easiest boundaries first. Setting boundaries is a skill that needs to be practiced. Enlist support from others if necessary. Inform people immediately when they have crossed the line.

Don’t wait. Communicate politely and directly. Be clear about the consequences and follow them through.

The better you become at setting your own boundaries, the better you become at recognizing and respecting the boundaries of others.

Remember that establishing boundaries is your right. You are entitled to respect. You can’t control how other people behave, but you do have control over the way you allow people to treat you.

Learning to set boundaries is not always easy, but with time, it will become more comfortable. You may eventually find that boundaries become automatic and you no longer need to consciously set them.

They will simply become a natural extension of your self-respect.

Featured photo credit: Thomas Kelley via unsplash.com

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