Doubt and Anxiety: Men’s Unseen Struggle

Doubt and Anxiety: Men’s Unseen Struggle

Men's struggling with anxiety

For better or worse, we live in a world that bombards us with images of success, wealth, and power, and it’s no surprise that many men silently grapple with a gnawing sense of inadequacy. 

 

This internalized fear—that we are not good enough, not successful enough, healthy enough, strong enough, aren’t tough enough, or don’t feel or communicate well enough, breeds a unique kind of anxiety. 

 

It’s an anxiety that pushes many of us to the brink, compelling us to seek solace in distractions, settle for less, disconnect emotionally, or channel our frustrations outward. 

 

Understanding this dynamic is crucial and could be life-saving for many men and helpful for those who love them. As partners, families, and communities, we must explore this conversation deeper for personal growth and foster healthier, more connected families and communities.

 

The Mask of Avoidance

 

Every man, at some level and some point, has been faced with the relentless pressure to measure up. 

 

While some men turn on and step up in the face of some of these moments, others or some of the same men in different situations turn to various forms of avoidance, disassociation, and apathy. 

 

When it comes to avoidance and disassociation, there are many overlapping patterns and habits, alcohol, porn, video games, social media, overworking, and obsession with politics or sports —while some of us can have healthy relationships with these activities; for many men, they become coping mechanisms. 

 

In the dim light of the bar, the glow of a screen, or the endless hits of dopamine, we find a fleeting refuge from the inner voice that tells us we’re not enough. Yet, coping mechanisms offer a temporary escape from the crushing weight of pressure, the fear of failure, rejection, and, ultimately, our self-doubt. 

 

But this refuge is an illusion. 

 

The more we indulge in these behaviors, the further we drift from ourselves and others and from confronting the root of our anxiety. 

 

It’s like applying a Band-Aid to a wound that needs stitches. We may have hidden the wound, the vulnerable spot, but we never tend to it for proper healing. Hidden and unattended to, it festers beneath the surface, manifesting in more destructive ways.

 

Too Many of Us are Settling for Less

 

Avoidance doesn’t just manifest in escapist behaviors; it also leads us to settle or apathy in other areas of our lives. Too many men find themselves in jobs they hate, are bored in, or just unfulfilling. They choose friendships that run surface-level, that aren’t unsatisfying, and relationships that are cold, disconnected, or rich with drama. Their lives, careers, and relationships are mere shadows of their potential. 

 

Most men won’t admit they have a fear of failure or any fears, and it’s not “manly” to admit fear. Failure and fear are perceived weaknesses; we can’t have them as men. 

 

But the fears still exist, maybe in hidden ways, and these fears often prevent us from reaching for something more. It feels safer to stay put, numb, and dulled within the confines of mediocrity and let days pass us by in the struggle of unhappiness, stress, burnout, or boredom than to risk the pain of trying and falling short or, worse, asking for help. 

 

Far too many men have become this apathetic man.

 

This settling or apathetic man is a silent epidemic. It saps our energy, our creativity, and our joy. It keeps us in a state of perpetual dissatisfaction, where the nagging feeling of “not enough” becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. 

 

We become the architects of our unhappiness, trapped by the doubts we seek to escape.

 

The Righteous Rage

 

For some, the response to this inner turmoil takes a different form—a more energetic but much darker version. 

 

Instead of turning inward, these men turn their frustration outward. This anger can manifest as righteousness, blame, and resentment towards others. It’s easier to fault others—partners, bosses, society, Jews, Arabs, Blacks, Women, other countries, the sitting President, the past President, the economy, or anyone else—than to confront our fears and insecurities. 

 

It must be someone else who has done this to us because to admit we are the problem would be equivalent to our minds as failure or, worse, death itself. 

 

These men become crusaders, convinced that their unhappiness results from external forces beyond their control, and those forces become their enemies. 

 

Unfortunately, there are plenty of men and groups who will seize upon these angry, disconnected, lonely, and righteous victims to fill their ranks or sell them baseless and sometimes very hateful solutions. 

 

This path, while seemingly empowering, is extraordinarily destructive. It isolates us from those who might support us healthily and alienates us from potential sources of connection and understanding. It partners our fear, victimhood, and isolation with others who are also angry, feeling victimized and alone, expressing these feelings like a powder keg waiting to explode. 

 

In our quest to assert our worth, we push away the very people who could help us rediscover our goodness and potential and embrace those who add more angry and hateful fuel to the fire. 

 

The Power of the Connectedness

 

So, what do we do? 

 

How do we end this cycle of inadequacy and invite men to ask for help, embrace the challenges together, and open up about their silent struggles? 

 

How do we break free from the patterns of avoidance, disconnection, settling, apathy, and anger? 

 

The answer lies in healthy communities and emotional connectedness. 

 

While many men are already bravely stepping forward, it will take a lot of courage for them to slow down, ask for support, and open up.

 

And those of us who are healthy and living empowered, grounded lives are here to support them, not to tell them how they should be or how we think they need to be but to support them in finding their own truth, their authentic best selves. 

 

Our Mirror

 

When we join a community, we find more than just a group of people; we find a mirror. 

 

When the mirror looks angry, hateful, or blames others, we might reevaluate the community and where we seek support. 

 

But we might have found a home when the mirror looks strong, brave, open-hearted, accepting, loving, disciplined, and full of integrity and goodness. 

 

In the presence of others, we see our struggles reflected and validated. We realize that we’re not alone in our fears and doubts. This realization is powerful and, for many, eye-opening. It shifts the narrative from “I’m not enough” to “We’re all in this together” and “Someone understands me.”

 

In a supportive community, we experience love, understanding, and acceptance. We learn to share our vulnerabilities without fear of judgment. This openness fosters a sense of belonging that is essential for healing. When we feel seen and heard, our inner critic loses its grip. We start to believe in our worth because others believe in us, too.

 

 Building Authentic Connections

 

Authentic connections require more than being physically present; they demand emotional presence, something most of us never learned. This means showing up with our whole selves—our fears, hopes, struggles, and triumphs. 

 

It means feeling our feelings and understanding our emotions but not being ruled or controlled by them. 

 

It means having the emotional awareness and IQ to interpret the sensations that are going on in my mind and body but becoming the leader of myself, choosing to respond from inquiry, Goodness, and the man I want to be in the world. 

 

It means being honest about where we are and what we need. 

 

It means listening deeply to others and offering our support in return.

 

In these connections, we find the courage to confront our doubts. 

 

We see examples of resilience and growth that inspire us. 

 

We receive feedback that challenges our negative self-perceptions and encourages us to reach higher. 

 

In essence, we become part of a network of growth, where each person’s progress fuels the collective journey.

 

The Men’s Work Journey

 

The journey from doubt and anxiety to confidence and success is not a solo endeavor. It’s a path that we walk together, hand in hand with our brothers, friends, mentors, and allies. 

 

In community, we find the strength to face our fears and the support to overcome them. 

 

We discover that our worth is not tied to our achievements but to our inherent humanity.

 

We start to value Goodness over greatness. 

 

When we embrace goodness and connectedness, we transform ourselves and the world around us. 

 

We become leaders who inspire others to rise above their doubts. 

 

We create environments where authenticity is valued, masks are removed, and success is redefined to include personal fulfillment, integrity, and meaningful relationships.

 

The fear of not being good enough is a heavy burden, but we don’t have to struggle with it alone. 

 

By embracing community and connectedness, we find the support, love, and understanding we need to heal and grow. 

 

We learn to see ourselves through the eyes of those who care about us, and in doing so, we discover our true potential. 

 

It’s time for men to understand that when we can come together, work together, and support each other, we will thrive and achieve more than we ever thought possible.

 

-The Alchemy of Men Leadership Retreat

-Alex Terranova

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