Mental Notes with Hilary Valdez: Understanding male behavior

Mental Notes with Hilary Valdez: Understanding male behavior

by Hilary Valdez
Stripes Japan

Three types of guys: Hunks (Guys who work out), Chunks (Guys who don’t work out and watch TV while eating cheeseburgers and drinking beer) and Drunks (Functional alcoholics and chronic drinkers).

What makes it difficult to be a guy? What is male pain? What are male fears? What is masculinity? Men face many issues including depression, anxiety, anger, substance abuse, and post-traumatic stress.

Understanding different male energies means exploring the social and psychological dynamics of growing up male. Men fight a lifetime of old school messages and impossible expectations: Be a man, boys don’t cry, compete, don’t be emotionally vulnerable, keep things to yourself, men don’t back down, men have no emotions, and men are emotionally restrictive. For some men, these messages are troublesome. Society buys into these myths and on the outside, so do men. But internally, these conflicting emotions of who they’re expected to be versus how they feel, eat them up. Conflicted men are depressed men: the worse the conflict, the deeper the depression. The more a guy identifies with traditional male stereotypes, the worse the conflict.

Take an emotional leadership role and clarify basic beliefs about yourself. Conduct a psychological autopsy and collect emotional evidence on what you learned to become a man. Men worry about their masculinity and masculine image. Guys who suffer most are the rocks or Mr. Rigid-types who maintain a narrowly-defined and traditional idea about masculinity. We are all products of our respective generations and who we were as children often defines who we are now.

The symbols of manliness from generations past don’t fit the new millennium. Changes in gender roles are shifting in the workplace and at home. Many men are under-employed and more women are in the workforce, and for some, it is an awkward adjustment.

Role shifting affects a man’s self-esteem and self-concept. Any threat to his aggressive, competitive nature, or loss of social status or reduced status, is a risk for depression. As a result, guys go out drinking or hunting or work more. A better approach is asking for feedback from friends you trust. If three people are saying the same thing, you might want to consider it.

Growth choices are difficult to make because it means a shift in lifestyle. Our inner emotions find ways to be expressed, but men worry about not being tough enough. They are reluctant to be transparent.

What to do? First, take a serous inventory of your strengths and what needs to be strengthened. Is it time for a mental tune-up? Do you need a minor or a major tune-up? Change your self-defeating habits. If you think or say something negative, say two positive statements. Don’t let situations dictate your behavior. Expand your comfort zone. Uproot outdated values, beliefs, and ideas. Make an action plan for self-improvement. What do you need to change? What interventions or resources do you need to use? When should interventions start?

Instant Insight: “I will change only who I can today: myself.”


Hilary Valdez is a retiree living in Japan. He is an experienced Mental Health professional and Resiliency Trainer. Valdez is a former Marine and has worked with the military most of his career and most recently worked at Camp Zama as a Master Resiliency Trainer. Valdez now has a private practice and publishes books on social and psychological issues. His books are available on Amazon and for Kindle. Learn more about Valdez and contact him at or at

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