Men like women can have a low sense of self esteem. The good news is any man can boost their self esteem and have the confidence to accomplish anything he wants out of life. To help understand where most men’s sense of low self esteem stems from and for self esteem tips for men, I have interviewed therapist Joseph LaFleur, MSW, MBA, LICSW.
Tell me a little bit about yourself.
“I am a Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker and Psycho-dynamic Psychotherapist with a private practice in Washington DC. My education includes a Master’s Degree in Social Work from Tulane University, a Master’s Degree in Business Administration from Trinity University, and specialized training in psychoanalytic psychotherapy from the Washington Center for Psychoanalysis in Washington DC. About 75% of my practice is made up of men struggling with intimacy and relationship issues. Most men are experiencing anxiety and mild to moderate depression, and low esteem issues.”
Where do most men’s sense of low self esteem stem from?
“Over the last couple of decades, parental roles and expectations have shifted some, including time spent with their children. Parents are doing the best they can, but fall short sometimes, especially if the child is biologically prone to anxiety. Often times little boys are perceived as more resilient or tougher than they actually are. And since gender roles dictates men not protest, often times, when it comes to their feelings, men ‘suck it up’. Over time, the ‘sucking it up’ can have a cumulative affect, causing anxiety and depression. Unlike women, men do not vent or discuss feelings with other men. Some men literally have no one in their life to discuss intimate things with. Because they have no experience with intimate discussions, they are easily frightened by these types of conversations and tend to shy away.
Early on in life, as toddlers, boys need parents to help them identify feelings, put words to these feelings, and assure them that these feelings are normal. They need to feel like they are capable of keeping and maintaining relationships with first their parents and then other children. Little boys need other boys who they can relate to and feel like they belong. Just like little girls, little boys need to be protected. Sometimes parents assume that since they are boys, they can handle situations they are not ready for or can’t. The boys fall short and begrudge themselves. These short failings are considered ‘subtle trauma’ and if they consistently happen over a period of time it can be devastating to his self esteem. Parents need to be attuned to a boy’s strengths and weaknesses and be accepting of them. Don’t force sports when arts or technology might be his preference. If he excels in what he does, he will feel capable and more confident in the world around him. He will also find compatible friends, which will lay a foundation for relationships to come.
Gay, Straight, or Bisexual, all men function better with close emotionally intimate male friends during all stages of life. Men with low self esteem find this difficult because of poor foundations in their beginning relationships. Men enjoying men is a good thing! Most men feel they have to give this up or meet less frequently with their buddies due to family obligations, and ironically, it takes a toll on their significant other relationships.
Competitiveness in later life can also take a toll and easily kill these relationships. Unlike women, men aren’t good at making up with each other, simply because they don’t know how. Humility is often mistaken with weakness. Some end up in a ‘hidden loneliness’ that renders them paralyzed and unable to enjoy life.”
What type of impact can low self esteem have on a man’s overall life?
“Low self esteem is mainly due to anxiety and depression. Anxiety can lead to fear and indecisiveness in decision making. Depression can lead to extreme anger. Both fear and anger can lead to destructive behaviors such as drinking and drug use, aggression, infidelity, lethargy, poor work performance, and unstable relationships. Often times men will seek out unhealthy behaviors as ‘quick fixes’ to relieve them of the anxiety and depression.”
What are some self esteem tips you can give men?
“Self Esteem Tip #1
Take time for yourself doing whatever it is you enjoy. Doing things you enjoy can boost your self esteem and make you feel good as a man.
Self Esteem Tip #2
Help create a safe and comfortable family atmosphere. Dads raise boys to become men. Strong men know how to express themselves. Avoid potential partners who don’t give you space to vent and ridicule you. Never enter into a relationship with a partner who questions your gender role or masculinity because of your expressiveness. (They are control freaks that will make your life miserable)
Self Esteem Tip #3
Be mindful of past subtle traumas and learn to heal from them by forming new relationships and exploring things that interest you. Create a new future by learning to understand your past and regrets.
Self Esteem Tip #4
Accept that life is about relationships. Learn to be a good friend, partner, and father. Empathize with others by putting yourself in their shoes and verbalizing how you would feel if it were you. Expressing empathy is the quickest way to make others feel safe around you. Don’t compete with your father whether he is the greatest man alive or the most hideous human being. Concentrate on developing your own style that feels right and is comfortable.”
What type of professional help is available for men who have low self esteem?
“Psychotherapy is a valuable tool that helps men learn to deal with anxiety and depression. It can help him learn to be capable in relationships buy introducing vocabulary, identification of feelings, and expressing himself in assertive and confident ways. Therapy can also help a man learn where his indecisiveness stems from and in turn give him a better understanding of himself. Having an empathetic therapist who conveys understanding can soothe past subtle traumas and give him the confidence to move on with life.”
Thank you Joseph for doing the interview on self esteem tips for men. For more information on Joseph LaFleur or his work you can check out his website at www.josephlafleur.com.
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