Toxic Masculinity v. Wellbeing
I have had some training sessions on Challenging Behaviour and Wellbeing in the last few days, which after seeing this tweet have led me to believe the following:
Men perform challenging behaviours as an evolutionary response to feeling threatened, but that does not excuse their behaviour.
From what I gather from the subsequent tweets, the issue this man has is not with the woman in question but with himself and his own inadequacies. It made me think more generally about relationships and the ways in which we impinge on our happiness because we refuse to be present in them. It also reiterated the importance of self awareness and mindfulness, especially when we choose to invite someone else into our world.
This may sound confusing, but what I mean is that we focus on everything that is not within the relationship, rather than that which is. How many times have we said “it would be better if they did this” or “they’d be perfect if they’d do that”. When we do this we can’t focus on all the things our partners are doing which fulfil us and make us happy, because we have no head space left to consider this. Essentially, we get so stuck in our own heads, contemplating the past or the future, what could or could have been that we miss what is right in front of us.
Some psychologists believe that this is a natural survival mechanism. We have so many negative thoughts because we are subconsciously trying to protect ourselves from the worst possible scenario. However, these thoughts are unhelpful and being mindful and aware of yourself and your personal values are important. It allows you to accept the negative thoughts because unfortunately we can’t stop thinkinking them.
Being mindful is about checking in with ourselves and our personal values and making sure that we are prioritising them. It is about calibrating what you know about yourself or aspire to be, with the way we behave in the outside world. This can be difficult because despite what we would like to think, social dynamics do shape the way we behave.
What people think of us is important. Granted, the degree to which this matters to us varies, but from an evolutionary point of view, it is about survival. There is safety in numbers, so our position in society matters. Thus we find that sometimes we give into social pressures despite knowing our values lay elsewhere.
In the case of strong and accomplished women, and men with a lack of self awareness or mindfulness this can cause a lot of friction. I honestly believe that a lot of men don’t know that they’re practicing toxic masculinity, because they do it so instinctively. As with this case, I think a lot of men like the idea of strong and accomplished women because they see us as something to dominate, as to further feed their superiority complex. On failing to do so, these men become frustrated and unhappy because they see it as a failure to protect themselves. To be safe they need to have ultimate control over their environment. It is conflict between what they know to be true (this woman loves me) and their unhelpful negative thoughts (she doesn’t need me so she will leave me). The real problem is, that they cannot recognise this because they do not know themselves intimately enough to be honest with themselves.
Toxic masculinity and the desire to dominate their partners, is something I see stopping a lot of heterosexual men from claiming their happiness. Yes, toxic masculinity may be an attempt to avoid emotional harm and dangers or social isolation, but does it allow you to be human? Does it allow you to be your authentic self? Does it allow you to be happy?
Written by Amara Lawrence