Thinking Outside of Your “Man Box”

The man box, we all have one. Lets see what is in yours…

The Man Box

Tony Porter is an activist dedicated to helping end violence against women, and he has come up with a really simple and easy to understand idea about how (some) men think. You can check out his TED Talk about the Man Box here.

Tony Porter came up with the idea of the “Man Box”. In this man box are all of the things men think it means to be a man. Some examples include; not showing emotion, always being in control of the finances, being the sole provider for the family, don’t cry, and being strong- just to name a few.

Where does the content of our man box come from?

We learn through our environment. So if our father, grandfather, uncles etc. believed that you can’t say “I love you” because it made them appear weak, then there is a good chance you will also take on this belief. Once you are an adult and have children of your own, you may also find it difficult to express love and empathy as a man. We are a product of our environment, and this is the process of socialization.

Through socialization we begin to form our beliefs about the world at an early age. We don’t get to choose our environment as kids.  What we don’t transform we transfer. The pain and suffering we experience today comes from generations of pain and suffering. Our fathers, grandfathers and great grandfathers pain is now ours. If they have not transformed their pain, they are giving it to you. Lets start thinking about what we need to transform in our own life journey so we can end the cycle of pain, suffering, and abuse for the next generation.

Us men need to, and can do better. Lets start to think outside our man box and make some transformations!

Thinking outside your man box

In order to transform what we think it takes to be a man and begin to break free from our pain and suffering, we need to think about 3 things;

1) Recognize where the contents of your man box come from

  • Remember, we can’t choose our environment as kids, but as adults we have the ability to change our thinking. Be a non-judgmental observer and think about your childhood. Who were your male influences? what were their beliefs? How did they treat others? Were they able to show you love, kindness, and respect?
  • Once we are able to reflect on our past and start making some of these connections between our environment and our current behaviors, we can then start to make sense of our behaviors. Then we can see where the contents of our man box came from. If you don’t like what you see, challenge yourself and make some changes!

2) Evaluate and challenge the contents of your man box

  • If you have read this far, good job! you have also probably been able to identify some of the contents of your man box. Do you see anything you don’t like? See something you might want to transform so you don’t transfer it to your kids? Great! Now you can start the process of challenging those old beliefs in your man box.
  • Ask yourself (without judgment) how is this belief serving me? my kids? my partner? co-workers?. Ask yourself, what is the honorable intention of this thought, feeling and behavior? If it is negative and abusive, then change it! One of the really cool things about our brains is the potential to rewire them and form new and healthy beliefs about ourselves and the world we live in!

3) Re-define your idea of what it means to be a man

  • Now that you’ve been able to identify and challenge your old ways of what it means to be a man, you’re almost there! Now you get to re-define how you want to move forward in life as a new man! Think about the things you were missing out on as a kid. What are some of the positive messages you wish you could have received as a child? What are some things you see yourself repeating in your family that had a negative impact on you as a kid? If you want to be more present for your kids, then take some time out of your day to be with them. Ask your kids how their day was. Ask about how they are feeling about that upcoming test. Start re-defining your man box!
If you want more help understanding and re-defining your man box I’d love to help you! Simply click here for more information about scheduling your first appointment!

Domestic Violence IS Child Abuse

Children learn from their environment

If the child’s caregivers are chronically expressing their emotions in a stressful, chaotic or violent way, and engaging in domestic violence, the child will begin to take on these behaviors as a way to manage their own emotions as well. 

How Children Think

Children also tend to internalize the things they see hear and feel. Children internalize these behaviors and messages from their environment because they are egocentric by nature. Everything is about them, not because they are trying to be narcissistic, but because they have not yet effectively developed the ability to take perspective of other people’s feelings or needs.

A young child often begins their sentences with “I want”… “I want a cookie” or “I want to go play”. They are also completely dependent on their caregivers for basic human needs such as food, clothing, shelter, safety and love. Again, it’s all about them. 

How Children Process

So, the child who witnesses domestic violence will begin to internalize those feelings of shame, guilt, and fear. The child will assume (since everything else is about them) that the violence they witness or receive is their fault, they begin to view themselves as a “bad” child and that they must be the reason for this violence and chaos.

Domestic violence sends messages of shame, guilt, and fear to the victim. 
When children are stressed and overwhelmed with fear, they enter survival mode. This does not allow them to focus on other things such as school, having healthy relationships and learning other important social skills and can result in behavioral issues. The child then often gets labeled as a bad or difficult child, which in turn validates the child’s egocentric thinking that all of this IS their fault. 

They aren’t bad children and it isn’t their fault, they are behaving exactly as they should given their circumstances. 

#domesticviolence #childabuse #children#enddomesticviolence#domesticviolenceawareness#familywellnesscounseling