Are You Strong in the Important Ways? - Justin Lioi, LCSW - Brooklyn, NY

I’ve recently begun writing a weekly column for The Good Men Project, a website that is redefining stereotypical ideas of masculinity. I’m excited for the journey. the column is called Unmasking Masculinity.

Last week I wrote about our collective sense of what it means to be “strong”. Often we confuse strength with being stoic or by not crying or “losing it” during times when everyone else seems to be falling apart. We’re the guy at the funeral who’s not crying. We can take anything. “I can handle it.” “Not a problem.” are a few of the common replies.

My article dives into how this idea of strength needs an update

Pressure Narrows the Gap

When we are staunchly working to not have a feeling overtake us, we are anything but strong. The pressure is enormous, too, and there’s only so much we can take.  At this point we’re basically the servant to the part of us that is holding all of those feelings back. We now have this facade we began creating when we were a kid that must be maintained–and now our most important energy is going toward maintaining it. That’s energy that could be spent doing the things we want to do, being fully present with our kids or partners, or feeling freer at work to brainstorm.

Our idea of strength becomes more of a prison, and we are in charge of keeping it locked. But we were one of the people to co-construct it. (We weren’t alone of course–society has done a bang up job of making us our own wardens for a prison they laid the foundation for.)

It doesn’t have to be this way, and we are able to make other choices–at least in surroundings where we feel the most comfortable and we fully trust the people we are with. But that is difficult to get to.

Looking forward to hearing what you think of the article, Showing Real Strength.

Justin Lioi, LCSW is a men’s mental health and relationship expert. He practices counseling in Brooklyn, NY (and online throughout New York State and internationally.) He received his degree from New York University and has been working with men and their families for over 10 years. Justin is on the Board of the National Association of Social Workers and writes a weekly column for the Good Men Project called Unmasking Masculinity. He can be found on local and national podcasts talking about assertiveness, anger, self-compassion, all with the goal of becoming the man you want to be.