Healthy Masculinity: Channeling Anger in Positive Ways
Talking about toxic masculinity is useless. It’s not helpful and as I keep saying, those who push this narrative aren’t doing so out of some kind of moral altruism. Seriously, anyone that claims that they have the moral high ground by submarining entire groups just lost the moral high ground. Can we please stop listening to this nonsense that males are toxic just because they are male? That’s not going to make males better and it’s not going to make society better. Can we please stop pretending that women know how to tell us guy how to be real men? It’s laughably absurd. But, for arguments sake, those paths, the ones that lead us to what it means to being a good, healthy man have overgrown. Those arts have largely been lost to us. Males are lost. Many of them don’t truly grow up and even though many want to do so, they are struggling to know what that truly is and what that truly looks like. What does it really mean to be a really good man?
I have walked many of my own roads and have a few of my own rites of passage and have learned a lot from it. While I don’t claim to have really arrived, I think I have a lot to share about what it means to be a man. As someone who was raised largely by his mom and only had three sisters for siblings, I will tell you this with absolute certainty. Women never really taught me anything, at all, about how to be a good and healthy man.
Everybody, male, female or miscellaneous, experiences anger. Males are often put down and shamed for experiencing and expressing anger. Anger gets attached to toxic masculinity even though anger is just a human trait and I don’t care who you are, how you were born or what you identify as it’s not okay to allow your anger to take control and become the kind of anger that is destructive. There are different types of anger and it’s important to understand the differences because some of them destroy while others motivate.
Being mad or madness is the type of anger that is associated with insanity. It’s the type of anger where people run things over and over in their minds. The kind of anger that comes from ruminating the same thing repeatedly in your mind. This feedback loop is like putting a microphone up to a speaker and the resulting sound becomes louder and or deafening each time it cycles through the system. This is madness. Staying in the same crazy loop. The way that you stop this, is by forcing yourself to think about other things. Nothing good comes from cycling the same thing repeatedly with the hardest part being that you are realizing that you’re doing it and forcing yourself to take your mind off it. You can force yourself to think about other things if you concentrate on this task. This type of anger will tear you apart and inevitably tear things apart externally as well. Madness that goes unchecked is what can drive someone to extreme acts of violence. What else would cause someone to open fire on a crowd of people they don’t know? They are both angry and insane.
Rage is anger that has lost control. Rage is what turns people into monsters. Rage is usually the result of madness that has been bottled up. This loss of control can be so destructive though it tends to be fairly brief because of it’s intensity. Those moments of rage usually result in violence and a loss of control. Rage often happens as the result of being passive, when a person feels like they just take it and take it. Most people have experienced rage, it’s part of being human. And while I certainly don’t condone rage or make excuses for those that express it and lose control of their behavior, this is in no way a trait of toxic masculinity. I will say this though, I believe that males can generally experience more intense rage than females and it’s important for males to learn to manage their anger and here’s why.
There’s a positive way to experience and express anger. There’s a type of anger that motivates and creates movement. If a person is angry about how they are being treated at work, it will motivate them to make a change and take positive risks in finding a new job. Positive anger chases away fear and worries and motivates us to take the fear and the worry head-on. We’ll do things that we’re normally afraid to do and it makes us bolder and stronger. Positive anger motivates us to stand up for ourselves and stand up for what we believe in even if it means facing strong backlash or opposition.
Guys, you must learn how to use positive anger. You need it and your sons need it. You deal with madness by forcing your mind to think about something else and you deal with rage by speaking up when something is bothering you. Learn how to be assertive and you’ll see so much of your rage disappear. What’s left after that is positive anger and don’t let people, especially those who have made it a habit of putting down males tell you that all anger is bad. Positive anger is what creates heroes and warriors. Learn the difference and learn to channel your positive anger into the action that is needed in your life.