Sensitivity is a controversial subject for men. According to common stereotype and stigma, men are either too sensitive or completely insensitive. Men might have feelings, but they won’t show them, the pervasive myth goes. When men do show their feelings, they aren’t being tough enough. That is how men are supposed to be- tough. By logic, if feeling and displaying feelings, if being sensitive, means men are not tough, then sensitivity is a weakness. Men receive this kind of message their entire lives from their fathers, their brothers, their teachers, their coaches, their mentors, and other male figures in their lives. Social narratives, media narratives, stereotype and stigma perpetuate these harmful ideologies, furthering the distance between men and their ability to be sensitive.
Men who have lived with active addiction to drugs and alcohol have often abused mind altering substances in order to cope with their relationship to sensitivity. Men who were “too sensitive” were often not shown how to handle their feelings and sensitivities. They abused drugs and alcohol to cope with their overwhelming sense of emotion and sensitivity, numb the thoughts and feelings, and feel something different. Men who were “insensitive” likely had a similar experience. Completely out of touch with their emotions, they did not know how to feel. They abused drugs and alcohol to cope so that they could feel, or recreate the numbness they were already experiencing. As a result, these kinds of men, and any men who became addicted to drugs and alcohol, change the chemistry of their brain. On a neurobiological level, their ability to connect and cope with their emotions is changed. Emotions are chemical reactions happening in the brain. When the way the brain creates, interprets, and reacts to emotions change, the relationship changes. Men struggle to reconnect with their emotional selves. By entering recovery through a treatment program, men are exposed to various types of therapy. Men learn to identify, articulate, communicate, and fully express their emotions. Through engaging with other men, they learn to be vulnerable, be sensitive, and feel their feelings. Learning to connect with sensitivities and emotions, mean learn that they never have to turn to drugs and alcohol for emotional support again. They are free from addiction.
Tree House Recovery is a men’s treatment program located in Portland, Oregon. Creating sustainable recovery through sustainable change, our programs help men learn how to live sober with adventurous lives. Call us today for information: (503) 850-2474