No pain, no gain.
Truer words have never been spoken, but far too many people in modern society are ashamed to admit they’re struggling.
This is especially true of men, who may feel emasculated and humiliated by admitting they’re not doing OK.
By refusing to open up and address the frustrations they’re having, men all too often dig themselves into a dark place emotionally and psychologically.
Here are some signs that a man is not doing well but is doing his best to ignore it and put on a brave face for the outside world.
1) Avoid expressing feelings
Being a self-contained and reserved man is perfectly fine. But the kind of guy who is hiding his own struggles is often beyond this level.
He holds back from expressing any strong emotions, happy or sad.
He rarely smiles or grimaces and maintains a kind of neutral and expressive demeanor.
How does he feel? Nobody’s sure. He says he’s fine, but you can bet good money he’s struggling in some way he won’t open up about.
2) Overly independent and unattached
Many guys who are having a difficult time but trying not to show it, and up self-isolating.
They are not doing well enough to be in relationships or deep friendships, so they avoid even taking the risk of letting somebody get close to them.
By avoiding most social contact, they hope to avoid having to admit the difficult feelings and experiences they are having.
This tends to feed into an ever-increasing cycle of isolation and feeling they can’t or shouldn’t open up to anyone.
3) Changing subject away from themselves
Quite contrary to the type of guy who constantly talks about himself, a man who is not doing well may be overly self-effacing.
He tries to turn the conversation away from himself whenever possible and acts like he is not important.
Even legitimate concerns or problems that others bring up regarding his life are brushed aside as no big deal.
This relates to the next point.
4) Downplaying their own struggles
Men who don’t want to admit the struggle they’re having will often downplay their own struggles.
No matter how bad things are getting, they put on a brave face and act like everything is fine.
This is the stereotype of the strong silent type taken much too far.
No matter what he’s going through, this guy insists he’s “fine.” He’s not.
5) Overly stoic and wooden
Stoicism is an ancient Greek philosophy advocating a neutral and non-reactive approach to life and its ups and downs.
There is a lot to be said for the stoic approach, but it can also become a kind of mask, used to cover up any strong emotional reaction and to hide from intense emotional or personal experiences.
Stoic men have a crucial role to play as protectors and providers in society, but when they go too far to having no reaction to anything they can become their own worst enemy.
6) A flippant attitude towards suffering
Men who are trying to hide their pain often take a flipping attitude towards suffering in general.
Tragic news from around the world makes them shrug.
Hearing about a friend who is going through a hard time makes them nod without seeming to really feel the emotions.
It is as if their feelings button has simply been switched off.
7) Evading discussions of the future
Discussions of the future tend to come up, either in general or more specifically.
But when a guy is having a difficult time, he usually avoids talking about the future even in general terms.
It isn’t that he is living in the present in some kind of empowering way, it is that he is avoiding thinking of himself or where he’s had it in life because he’s not doing well.
8) Nerding out and credentialism
Getting lost in facts and figures is another way that some men hide from their feelings.
If they collect enough degrees on their wall and have enough mind blowing theories to think about, they hope that they can hide from the deep hole inside.
Sadly, this approach only tends to spiral out into more feelings of emptiness and chasing a sense of completion.
9) Financially vague but undependable
There is a close link between financial well-being and mental health.
Many problems are made much worse by financial instability and poverty, and vice versa.
Having money doesn’t buy happiness, but it sure doesn’t hurt either!
Men who aren’t doing well tend to be quite vague about their finances and often fall through on their financial commitments. They insist all is well in their bank account, but the question marks start to add up.
10) Resting on their laurels
Men who are not doing very much with their life, or are feeling quite down, tend to rest on their laurels.
As I mentioned earlier, men who aren’t doing well tend to avoid talking about themselves. But when they do talk about themselves they refer back to the good old days when everything was supposedly great for them.
The stereotype of this is an older man bragging about his glory days, but the truth is that it comes in every age bracket.
When a guy is resting on his laurels and talking about his past accomplishments, he is usually longing for a better time, or at least what he thought was a better time.
11) Excessive criticism of others
Men who are not doing well but putting on a brave face, often end up directing a lot of criticism towards others.
By undermining other people’s lives and what they are doing, they hope to feel better about themselves.
This is a classic symptom of insecurity, because by focusing on others on their perceived or real shortcomings, the unhappy man hopes to feel shore up in his sense of his own value or good fortune.
12) Overly focused on appearance
Caring about appearance can be a healthy sign.
But caring too much about appearance is usually a sign of insecurity or inner doubts rising to the surface.
When a man becomes overly focused on his appearance and changing or caring for his appearance, it is often because he has inner doubts about his value or life that are plaguing him.
13) Exhibiting superficial confidence
There is a reason that so many dating guides and career coaching programs for men are ineffective.
It is because while they can teach the outer signs and behaviors of confidence and assertiveness, they cannot build that true inner core of self-belief and feeling one’s own value.
Men who are struggling but trying not to show it, often exhibit outer confidence that is not easily spotted for being insincere or shaky.
But below the surface and behind closed doors they are far from confident and spend a lot of time lost in their inner self doubts and anxieties. Their surface confidence is only a mask.
How many times have we heard these words and accepted them at face value?
This is especially true when they’re said by a “strong silent type” of man who seems to be doing pretty well.
But that isn’t always the case.
In fact, by looking out for the behaviors above we can all learn to recognize the signs that a guy is fine in a completely different way:
Feelings Inside Not Expressed. He’s “FINE.” Now it’s time to get him to open up and express some of that mess. It can do a world of good.
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