Contemplation from a solitary character contrasting against a hurried world

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Name: Yolo Akili Robinson

Mental Health Advocate and Wellness Expert, Founder Executive Director of BEAM (Black Emotional and Mental Health)

“Men are often taught, or encouraged, not to express our feelings. But what happens when you bury your emotions? It bottles up and becomes explosive. We end up hurting people—usually the ones we love and ourselves. During my work, I hear so many men say, ‘I don’t want to repeat my father’s mistakes.’ But it’s not so easy to be different. You need the tools. You need guidance. You have to work to break patterns. Therapy gives you the tools to do it. Ironically, oppressors are the ones who teach men of color about their masculinity; it was white men who said Black men are beasts. Racism has taught us that we cannot be the full spectrum of masculinity. Being a man is all things. Tough and weak. The New Year is a great time to get into the habit of addressing issues, and taking care of your mental health. Here are a few reasons that I suggest men seek short-term therapy or counseling.”


  1. Explosive Anger, Rage or Depression. “All of these emotions are connected to the same feeling of helplessness, apathy and hurt. A lot of us grew up with older male relatives who were checked out and not present. Depression is understandable because of the context of racism, and how it affects males specifically. Even a little counseling will help you build coping strategies and pull you out of the hole.”


  1. Stuck in a Pattern. “I had a client who said, ‘Black women are crazy. They’re always throwing bricks at my car and slashing my tires.’ I told him to take a look at himself. If you always have the same experience, whether it’s in romantic relationships, jobs, or friendships, over time you have to figure out how you’re contributing to the situation. You are the co-creator of every circumstance. Therapy will help you see how.”


  1. Focused on the Choices of Others. “If you find yourself always talking about what other folks are doing and judging them, or blaming a second party for your plight, you likely have trouble with personal accountability. It’s called deflecting and it’s a defense mechanism that prevents you from looking at your own poor decisions and working towards change.”


  1. You’ve Been Unfairly Stopped and Frisked, or Arrested—or Fear it Happening. “Society has normalized the systemic harassment of Black and Latinx men. Living within a culture that constantly dehumanizes you is hurtful. Your life is on the line every time you interact with the police. But men rarely talk about it. When we don’t get those thoughts and feelings out of our heads they are internalized and show up in other places, like how we deal with our romantic partners and children.”


  1. You Took an ‘L’ in Love. “Men get hurt in relationships—we can’t just dismiss it. Since we don’t create spaces for men to bounce back, a lot of us end up checking out on love. We sleep a lot. Drink and smoke a lot. Overeat. Become cold-hearted to women. The fear of being hurt robs us from other experiences. Counseling is a place to help work that out.”


  1. You Have a Child Outside of Your Home. “Guys have their own version of that ‘happily ever after’ too. Few men want to be out of the home when they have children, and we have to recognize that when we don’t have the interaction we desired with our kids it hurts. We want to live with our families. We want to wake up to little faces that look like ours. If you have children with an ex, and are out of the home, it’s important to process the loss. Therapy is a place to strategize about how to grapple with your feelings, new normals and handling your ex.”