First of all, I’m glad you’re here, reading this, because it means you’re thinking about therapy, and THAT means you’re thinking about taking care of yourself. You value you. On the other hand, if you’re a male, you might feel weird or uncomfortable about the idea. Off the top of my head, here’s some cliches that may or may not ring a bell for you:
- Only crazy people go to therapy.
- Okay, not crazy people, but people who can’t manage their stuff as well I can.
- I mean, like weaker people. Not trying to knock them, I just mean I’m not weak.
- I don’t want to be analyzed by a stranger, let alone tell them my thoughts and feelings.
- Everyone knows therapists are crazier than their patients.
- It’s all made-up nonsense.
- I bet my best friend that the therapist would ask me “how does that make you feel?” in the first session.
There’s probably more!
In a wide-ranging November 2017 interview with the New York Times, Jay-Z said “I grew so much from [therapy]. But I think the most important thing I got is that everything is connected. Every emotion is connected and it comes from somewhere. And just being aware of it. Being aware of it in everyday life puts you at such an advantage. You know, you realize that…instead of reacting…with anger, I can provide a softer landing… ‘Oh, you think I see you. You’re in this space where you’re hurting, and you think I see you, so you don’t want me to look at you. And you don’t want me to see you.’”
Take it from Hova: there is work to be done. He’s been through it, too. Grew up a in low-income community, which is a traumatic experience all by itself. But his survival instincts lead him into a life of danger on the streets, which is traumatic too. His ascension to worldwide stardom – it may sound awesome, but it was probably not easy to make that transition smoothly. He is married to Beyonce, a woman who is arguably more popular than he is — that sounds like a challenge to navigate, as a masculine man. Lastly, his infidelity was revealed in a landmark work of art his wife made, and further documented in his own music afterward. Managing the fallout and healing process around his infidelity, as well as the public scrutiny that followed, was a Herculean task. Jay-Z did it, with help from therapy.
It takes a strong man to reach out for help; a strong partnership to work through the pain and reconnect on the other side. I was once told that any rupture can be repaired, with time, work, humility, and self-care. It can be easier if you’re working with the right person.
Remember: Jay isn’t just talking about processing his infidelity; he’s talking about much more. You are contemplating therapy for your own reasons, which look nothing like his, and those reasons are real, and tough. Maybe you’re overwhelmed, or anxious. Maybe you’re unhappy, struggling with work, or not excited about stuff that used to be awesome. Whatever it is, you’re clearly strong enough to find yourself here, and strong enough to reach out for support. We can work on whatever it is, together.
A therapist out in San Francisco named Josh Gressel has documented some of his insights and experiences in working with male clients, and my favorite point he makes is how men are good at knowing themselves and what they need, and having the courage to make that happen and take that step.
It takes a strong man to reach out for help.