As a man of a certain age, I am constantly faced with the realities the growing difference between what my mind thinks I can do and what my body actually does. Even though I specialize in connecting the mind and the body — I am still caught off guard more than I would like to admit.
It all happened so gradually, but also so quickly. I first started noticing my aging in my late 20’s – early 30’s as my thick curly hair was becoming obviously thinner. Then I started to notice that I didn’t recover physically as quickly. It was the little things. I also see this with the multitude of men I work with. Whether they come to me for issues of sexuality, intimacy and performance or other life issues, the topic eventually comes up. “Man, I am tired…”, “I used to be able…”, and other comments are common in my office.
As men age and they start to face their impermanence and start to have a loss of performance and desire, experience shame and vulnerability, many do not have the skills, insight or vocabulary to work through such changes.
American men are raised through the “boy code”. This is a set of social rules and expectations that come from dysfunctional gender stereotypes. Old messages such as men are supposed to be horny but never emotionally wanting; that macho/bravado/power is the way to solve any problem or emotional vulnerability, etc. When males are systematically indoctrinated into the boy code and not given the skills to deal with the realities of masculinity, aging becomes fraught with confusion, isolation and shame.
Being able to work through the realities of aging, balancing out messages from the boy code and finding new skills and understandings becomes a daily focus for men — and their partners and families. Remember aging doesn’t happen to an individual, it happens to a relationship and a family. Being able to work with your partner to understand the full impact of aging and what new realities (including positive ones) is the best approach to building a connected and vibrant future.
If you are dealing with the effects of aging and would like to figure out how to thrive, contact Elliott at [email protected]