Most men, especially hypermasculine men, feel like therapy doesn’t work for them. Or worse yet, that therapy could never work for them.

And I get it. Not only are up to 80% of mental health workers women, but traditional psychotherapy operates through a feminine lens that further alienates masculine men.

When men go through traditional therapy, they often feel discouraged, angry, and unheard. Because the feminine approach doesn’t account for their lifelong conditioning about how emotions make you weak.

But nothing could be further from the truth: Not only do emotions add all the spice to life that makes it worth living, but mastering your emotions makes you more productive and more fulfilled too.

In this episode, I explain why traditional psychotherapy often doesn’t work for men, and I reveal four ways masculine men can start to accept their emotions, undo their conditioning, and use therapy to help them accomplish their goals.

Listen now. 

 Show highlights include:

  • Why many men are on the path that only leads to emptiness, regret, and extreme loneliness (and how to jump off this path) (1:24)
  • The single biggest barrier to effective therapy for men (6:14)
  • The “color of life” mindset shift that instantly makes you feel more ok with your emotions (7:43)
  • How the feminine approach to therapy practiced by most therapists renders therapy useless for many men (and how to experience a more masculine—and effective—approach) (8:09)
  • All men who have resistance to their emotions need to listen here: (13:39)
  • This one question will start to undo your conditioning that emotions are obstacles to be avoided or solved (15:16)
  • How a relentless drive to be productive and successful robs you of all the joys of life and turns you into an emotionless robot (19:25)
  • 6 ways to get buy-in from your masculine protector parts that can make therapeutic coaching effective (and an example of how one of my clients went through this process) (22:15)

Does your neediness, fear, or insecurity sabotage your success with women? Do you feel you may be unlovable? For more than 17 years, I’ve helped thousands of people find confidence, fulfillment, and loving relationships. And I can help you, too. I’m therapist and life coach David Tian, Ph.D. I invite you to take this quick quiz to access my free Masterclasses on dating and relationships at now.

For more about David Tian, go here:

Emotional Mastery is David Tian’s step-by-step system to transform, regulate, and control your emotions… so that you can master yourself, your interactions with others, and your relationships… and live a life worth living. Learn more here:


Listen to the episode on your favorite podcast platform:

Apple Podcast:

Google Podcast:




Tune In


Note: Scroll Below for Transcription

Welcome to the Masculine Psychology Podcast, where we answer key questions in relationships, attraction, success, and fulfillment. Now, here’s your host, world-renowned therapist and life coach, David Tian.


Welcome to the Masculine Psychology podcast. I’m David Tian, your host. In this episode, we’re diving into a topic that hits close to home for many men, why traditional psychotherapy often fails for men, especially if you’re a stereotypically masculine man. These are the tough achievers who’ve been conditioned to see emotions as problems to be solved, or at best, mere instruments to get you to your goal.

If you’ve been taught to reject or repress your feelings, you’re not alone. Society drills this into us, men, from a young age, like: Sadness? Push it down. Anger? Just get over it. Even so-called positive emotions, like joy or happiness, they’re suspect because they might make you soft or lazy. [01:06.8]

The stereotypical masculine mindset tells us that emotions are distractions, obstacles that need to be overcome. But this way of thinking leads to a toxic mode of operation. It’s a cycle of using emotions only to fuel productivity or achievement. We get so caught up in this grind that we never stop to question whether those goals are even worth the sacrifice.

Imagine reaching the end of your life and realizing you’ve been running on empty, driven by a relentless need to be productive. What’s left then? Emptiness, regret, extreme loneliness. This is the path that many men are on, and it’s why psychotherapy, as it’s commonly practiced today, just doesn’t resonate. It asks men to feel their feelings, to talk about them, but for the hypermasculine man, this is exactly the problem. [01:58.5]

So, in this episode, we’re going to challenge this mindset and present a solution. We’re going to explore why embracing emotions is crucial, not just for therapy, but for living a fulfilling life. We’ll break down why the point of life isn’t just productivity, but also experiencing and valuing our emotions.

I’ve got four big points to cover today. First, let’s dive into understanding why so many masculine men have this aversion to emotions. If you’re a man who has been conditioned into seeing feelings as obstacles, you’re not alone. For the hypermasculine man, emotions, whether negative or positive, are viewed as hurdles. Sadness and anger are both seen as weaknesses. Even joy and happiness are suspicious, because they might make you lazy or soft.

From a young age, society drills into us that real men are tough, unfeeling and always in control. Crying or showing vulnerability is frowned on. Instead, we’re taught to be productive, to achieve, and to always be on top of our game. [03:07.0]

This cultural conditioning runs deep. We learn that our worth is tied to our ability to succeed or perform. Emotions, in this context, are merely distractions, things that get in the way of our goals. This cultural script tells us that being emotional is synonymous with being weak. It’s like there’s this unwritten rule that says if you want to be a man, you can’t let your feelings show. This belief is pervasive, and it shapes how we approach everything, including therapy.

Traditional psychotherapy often centers on exploring or expressing emotions. The therapist asks you to dig deep into your feelings, to talk about them, to analyze them. But for the hypermasculine man, this feels like the exact opposite of what they should be doing or want to be doing. They’ve been conditioned to see emotions as problems that need solving, not as valuable experiences to be explored. [04:06.0]

When a therapist asks or says, “Let’s talk about how you’re feeling,” the hypermasculine response is often, “Why? What’s the point?” It feels counterproductive. They’re used to solving problems, not wallowing in them. This mindset makes traditional therapy seem really ineffective, because it’s asking them to do something they’ve been trained to avoid doing their whole lives.

From a very young age, we’re bombarded with messages about what it means to be a boy and, eventually, a man. Boys don’t cry. Toughen up. Be a man. These phrases are ingrained in our minds. I had a video podcast called Man Up. I thought that would resonate because these phrases are so deeply ingrained in our minds. We’re taught that success is everything for a man, productivity is king, and emotions . . . they’re just a hindrance. [04:59.4]

Look at the media we consume, movies, TV shows, even video games. They all portray the strong silent type as the ideal man, the hero who never shows weakness, who always gets the job done. This image is powerful, and it influences how we see ourselves and our emotions. Broader society also rewards this behavior. The unflinching, unfeeling man is often admired and respected. He’s seen as reliable, strong and capable. On the other hand, the man who shows his emotions is often ridiculed or dismissed as weak, and this creates a strong incentive to suppress emotions and focus on productivity and achievement.

This conditioning doesn’t just stop at childhood. It follows us into adulthood, into our careers, our relationships, our everyday lives as men. We become men who are always on guard from being taken advantage of, from falling behind, always pushing ourselves to do more, be more, achieve more, and in the process, we learn to ignore or suppress our emotions. When that habit of suppression continues long enough, it turns into unconscious repression. [06:13.4]

A traditional psychotherapist might ask you to explore your childhood, to talk about your feelings, to cry if you need to, but if you’ve spent your whole life being told that emotions are bad, then all of this just feels wrong. It feels like the therapist is asking you to go against everything you’ve been taught, your unconscious, unwritten, unspoken value system that you’ve imbibed, often uncritically, that is now sabotaging your happiness.

But as a masculine man, you’re not aware of any of that. It’s all unconscious, and this creates a huge barrier to effective therapy, as practiced by most therapists who are operating in a feminine mode. If you see emotions as the enemy, you’re not going to want to explore them. You’re not going to want to talk about them. If that’s the core of the therapeutic process for most therapists, then it’s no wonder that many masculine men feel like therapy doesn’t work for them. [07:12.6]

This doesn’t mean that therapy can’t work for very masculine men. It just means that we need to approach it differently. Instead of jumping straight into emotions, we need to start by addressing the mindset that sees emotions as bad, harmful or scary. We need to question the cultural and societal conditioning that has shaped this perspective that emotions are somehow a weakness. By understanding and challenging these deep-seated beliefs and values, we can create a foundation for more effective therapy. It’s about reframing how we see emotions, not as obstacles, but as the whole point of life, the very richness of life.

But I’m jumping the gun here, so let’s move into the second point, part of which I’ve already previewed, which is the disconnect between how standard psychotherapy is practiced and the needs or the viewpoints, the worldview of hypermasculine clients. This is a big one, because it highlights why so many men feel like therapy just doesn’t work for them. [08:12.4]

Most standard therapy practices lean heavily on a more feminine approach. They emphasize feeling your emotions, talking about them, exploring how they make you feel. The idea is that by understanding and expressing your emotions, you can start to heal and grow. But for hypermasculine men, this approach feels foreign and uncomfortable. They’re used to seeing emotions as problems to be solved, not experiences to be felt for their own sake.

Let’s break this down some more. In a typical therapy session, a therapist might ask you to describe how you feel. They might want you to talk about your sadness, your anger, or even your joy. The goal is to get you to connect with your emotions and understand them better. But for a hypermasculine man, this feels completely counterproductive. You’ve been conditioned to see emotions as obstacles. You want to solve the problem, not wallow in it. [09:09.6]

So, when a therapist asks you to sit with your feelings or make space for your feelings, it feels like they’re asking you to do the exact opposite of what you think you should be doing, and this can lead to frustration and a sense that therapy isn’t helping or that you’re not making progress. Instead of feeling understood, you then feel misunderstood. You’re being asked to engage in a process that goes against everything you’ve been taught about what a man is supposed to be doing and how to handle emotions.

Many therapists often come from a more feminine perspective. Seventy-five to 80 percent of mental health workers are females, after all. The whole enterprise of therapy as it’s normally conducted has a kind of feminine energy, and many therapists might not fully grasp the masculine mindset. They might see your reluctance to talk about emotions as resistance or denial. They might interpret your need to solve problems quickly as mere avoidance, and of course, this can lead to a lot of misunderstanding. [10:11.6]

For example, a therapist might push you to explore your feelings more deeply, but if you’ve spent your whole life avoiding emotions, not only does this feel overwhelming; it goes against your values that you probably haven’t even recognized. Because they’re so deeply ingrained, they’re unconscious.

As a result, you might shut down or get defensive and not quite understand why, but your feelings will take over, but because, again, you’re not used to feeling your feelings or being aware of what you’re feeling. It’s not that you’re not that you’re not feeling at all. It’s that you’re not paying attention to your feelings and see feelings as a problem. So, when you do get defensive, and there are lots of feelings around it, you’re not aware of those feelings and you think you’re being perfectly logical or rational, but in fact, you’re getting quite heated, and you just want to shut the whole thing down, and you think the therapist does not understand you and is being silly. [11:01.0]

The therapist might see this as you being uncooperative or not committed to the process, if the therapist doesn’t fully understand the masculine view. But in reality, it’s merely a clash of perspectives. The therapist is asking you to do something that feels unnatural, uncomfortable and goes against your unconscious value system, and it goes against all the conditioning you’ve had about what it means to be a man and how a man ought to operate. This misunderstanding can also lead to fear or judgment of masculine traits.

A feminine therapist might view your lack of emotionality or your need for control as purely negative. They might not appreciate the reasons behind these traits or the roles that they’ve been playing in your life, and this can create a sense of judgment, making you feel even more alienated from the process and the therapist. [11:54.5]

The challenges in communication can be huge. There’s often a big gap between how therapists and how their hypermasculine clients communicate. Therapists are trained to use language that encourages emotional exploration. They ask open-ended questions. They use reflective listening, and they try to create a safe space for vulnerability, but for hypermasculine men, this language feels vague, ambiguous and frustrating.

You, as a masculine man, might prefer a direct solution-focused conversation. You want to know how to fix the problem, not just talk about it. This difference in communication styles can make therapy sessions feel unproductive. You leave feeling like you haven’t made any progress, because you’re not getting the clear, actionable advice you’re looking for.

So, what do we do to bridge this gap? First, it’s important for therapists to understand the masculine perspective. They need to appreciate why emotions are seen as problems and why there’s such a strong aversion to feeling them. By understanding the cultural and social conditioning behind this mindset, therapists can approach their clients with more empathy and less judgment. [13:05.0]

Therapists can also adjust their approach to be more solution-focused. Instead of pushing for emotional exploration right away or very often, they can start by addressing the client’s need for solutions. They can help the client see the value of emotions, the intrinsic value of emotions, in a way that can make sense to them. This might involve framing emotions as information that can help solve problems at first, instead of seeing them merely as obstacles to be avoided.For hypermasculine clients, it’s about meeting them where they are. So, I would say to you, if you identify with being a masculine man, recognize that your resistance to emotions isn’t a flaw and it’s not a failure. It’s a product of your conditioning. By working with a good therapist who understands this, you can start to see emotions in a new light. You can begin to appreciate their intrinsic value and integrate them more fully into your day-to-day life in a way that feels authentic and empowering. [14:07.1]

No matter their physical strength, for many men, emotions are too much for them to handle. It’s why they can’t give women the deeper levels of emotional intimacy and connection that they crave. It’s why they fail to be the man that modern women desire most: a man with inner strength, a man who has mastered his emotions.

Find out how to master your emotions through David Tian’s “Emotional Mastery” program. The Emotional Mastery program is a step-by-step system that integrates the best of empirically-verified psychotherapy methods and reveals how to master your internal state and develop the inner strength that makes you naturally attractive, happy, and fulfilled.

Learn more about this transformational program by going to

That’s D-A-V-I-D-T-I-A-N-P-H-D [dot] com [slash] emotional mastery.

Okay, so let’s move on to the third major point, which is to reframe the value of emotions for masculine people. This is crucial because it gets to the heart of why standard psychotherapy often feels off. You can start by questioning the masculine’s productivity paradigm. [15:21.0]

We’ve been conditioned to believe that the primary purpose of life is to be productive. We measure our worth by how much we achieve, how busy we are and how much we can get done. But let’s ask ourselves, is this really what life is about? Is the point of living just to check off boxes, hit milestones, and just work really hard and then die? What if the true purpose of life is to actually enjoy it?

Emotions aren’t just nuisances. They’re integral. They’re necessary. They’re an essential experience for human beings. They’re what make life rich and meaningful in the first place. All worthy goals that achievers aim at are because they’re hoping to have good feelings as a result of getting them. [16:07.0]

There are many easy examples. Why do you want that beautiful woman? Because you think if you can attract her and keep her, then you’ll feel loved or then you’ll be happy, or then you’ll feel significant. Then you’ll have your ego stroked or then you’ll have sexual pleasure. These are all emotions. They’re all feelings.

Why do you want X amount of money? You’re hoping that at the end of that, if you can get that X amount of money, then you’ll finally feel secure. You’ll feel certainty. You’ll be able to feel relaxation and calm. Or maybe you’ll feel significant, worthy, like you’re finally enough, and those are all emotions.

Or maybe you’re more philanthropic and you have a mission to save the world in some way, and if that’s the case, then if you were to succeed in saving the world, what would you feel? That’s what you’re aiming for. You’d feel a sense of contribution. You’d feel relief that you’ve alleviated some suffering. Maybe you’ll finally feel significant enough for yourself or worthy or of value. Again, these are all emotions. [17:05.1]

Up and down, the whole of life is driven by emotions. Emotions are what make life rich and meaningful. If we reduce everything to mere productivity, we miss out on the whole point of life, on what makes life worth living. Imagine a life where you’re always busy, always achieving, but never truly happy or satisfied. That’s not living, of course. That’s mere existing. Joy, happiness, pleasure, these aren’t just nice to haves. They’re essential for a meaningful life. Emotions contribute to our wellbeing and life satisfaction in ways that productivity alone obviously can’t. When you allow yourself to feel, you open up to the full spectrum of human experience.

Take, for example, Antonio Damasio’s work on emotions and decision-making. I talked about this in a few different podcasts. The most recent one is No. 118, which I entitled, “Why chasing success won’t make you happy,” and I brought up the work of the renowned neuroscientist Antonio Damasio, where he uses the analogy of Buridan’s ass or Buridan’s donkey to argue in his groundbreaking book Descartes’ error, to argue that without emotions, we can’t even make decisions. [18:18.6]

Imagine so in Buridan’s donkey. The scenario is to imagine a donkey placed equally far from a bale of hay and a bucket of water, and this donkey is equally hungry and equally thirsty. Because it has no emotional impulse to choose one over the other, or as another way of looking at it, it has no preference. It cannot choose which way to go. Is that the fork in the road? Can’t choose, and as a result, it stands there and starves and dies. Without preferences, which are feelings, they’re emotions, we can’t prioritize or decide, or act. Emotions guide our decisions and give meaning to our actions. [18:56.2]

Okay, let me illustrate all this with a case study. Let’s call him John. John is a high-achieving executive in his late-30s. John had it all, a great job, a nice house, a beautiful family, but despite his success, he felt empty and unfulfilled. He came to therapeutic coaching, thinking he needed to be more productive, to push harder.

I, however, noticed that John’s relentless pursuit of success was masking a deeper issue, his aversion to emotion. John grew up with the belief that emotions were weak. His father was a stern and strict man who drilled into him the importance of hard work, achievements and comparing himself to others. Emotions, in his father’s eyes, were mere distractions. John internalized this belief and unconsciously carried it into adulthood. He ended up treating himself like a machine, efficient, productive, but emotionally numb. [19:52.1]

In therapeutic coaching, we helped him to start questioning this productivity paradigm. Was the purpose of his life really just to achieve more? What about joy or love, or happiness or connection? Were these not also important? John began to explore these questions. He started to see that his constant drive for productivity was a way for him to avoid feeling. By staying busy, he didn’t have to face his emotions. But this avoidance was costing him dearly. He was missing out on the richness of life, on the whole point of life, the joy of playing with his kids, the warmth of connecting with his wife, the simple pleasure of a quiet evening.

Through the therapeutic process, John learned to value his emotions. He saw that they weren’t obstacles, but vital parts of his humanity. He began to allow himself to feel joy, sadness, anger, love. This emotional openness transformed his life. He became more present with his family, more connected to his friends, and more at peace with himself. His productivity actually didn’t suffer. In fact, it improved because he was a lot more balanced, fulfilled, calm and restful. [21:07.3]

John’s case shows that emotions are not the enemy. They’re not distractions or weaknesses. They’re what make life meaningful. They’re the whole point of life. When we embrace our emotions, we open ourselves up to a fuller, richer experience of life. We start to see that the point of life isn’t just to be productive like worker bees, but to be happy, connected, and fulfilled.

So, for hypermasculine clients struggling with traditional psychotherapy, the key is to start by reframing the value of emotions. Question the deeply-ingrained belief that productivity is everything. Recognize that emotions are of intrinsic value to the human experience and are essential for a fulfilling life. Embrace the full spectrum of your feelings and you’ll discover a richer, more meaningful existence. [21:58.2]

Okay, now let’s move into the fourth and final point I wanted to get to, and that is to explain this through the model of Internal Family Systems therapy, or IFS therapy, which is an evidence-based therapeutic approach, and it’s one I champion in many podcast episodes. Hopefully, you’ve heard me talk about it. IFS therapy sees the mind as made up of different parts, like a family. Each part has its own perspective, memories and roles.

For hypermasculine men, some of these parts are protectors. These protector parts develop strategies to keep you safe, often by suppressing emotions. They see emotions as threats to your stability and productivity. Now, imagine being in a therapy session where the therapist asks you to delve into your feelings. To your masculine protector parts, this feels like exposing yourself to danger. They’ve been working hard to keep these emotions under control. And now someone’s asking you to just let them out? No wonder it feels scary and uncomfortable. [22:57.7]

These masculine protectors react to this by shutting down, resisting the process, or even getting angry, and largely this is happening on a kind of unconscious level for the client. This is where traditional, more feminine approaches to psychotherapy often hit a wall. They push for emotional exploration without first addressing the protector parts’ concerns. For hypermasculine men, this just feels wrong. The protectors don’t trust the process, and without their buy-in, therapy cannot be effective.

How do we get these masculine protector parts on board? The key is to build trust and show them the value of emotions. We need to speak their language and use concepts that resonate with them. Let’s talk about just a few strategies for gaining their cooperation, and this is just the tip of the iceberg.

First, I think it’s helpful to emphasize strength and resilience. Explain that embracing emotions doesn’t mean being weak. It takes incredible strength and courage to face your feelings and understand them. Reframe emotional exploration as a challenge that builds resilience, rather than a sign of vulnerability. [24:09.1]

You can also focus on personal growth. Highlight how understanding and integrating emotions can lead to greater self-awareness and growth, and this isn’t about being soft. It’s about becoming a stronger, more well-rounded individual. Show how emotions can enhance decision-making, relationships, and overall wellbeing.

Use language that hypermasculine men or the masculine protector parts can relate to. Talk about mastery, control, power, not in the sense of dominating others, but in mastering oneself. Explain that by understanding and integrating emotions, they can gain more control over their lives. They become the masters of their own minds, rather than being controlled by unconscious feelings or by outside forces. [24:55.4]

Okay, let’s illustrate this with a case study. Meet Mark. He’s a successful entrepreneur in his early-40s, and Mark came to me for therapeutic coaching feeling stressed and disconnected from his family. He was a classic hypermasculine man, driven, focused and emotionally-guarded. Traditional psychotherapy did not resonate with him and he didn’t see the point in talking about his feelings. To him, it felt like a complete waste of time.

The first thing we did was to spend a lot of time understanding his internal masculine protector parts. Mark’s masculine protectors were strong and deeply ingrained and entrenched. They saw emotions as threats to his productivity and his stability.

Instead of pushing him to explore his feelings right away, we focused on building trust with these protector parts. We used language that resonated with them, talking about mastery and control. We showed them that by facing their emotions, Mark could become a more effective leader and a better father, and this approach made sense to Mark. He started to see the value in emotional exploration, not as a sign of weakness, but as a path to personal growth and mastery. [26:06.8]

Over time, Mark’s protectors began to trust the process. He started to explore his feelings little by little. He discovered that his stress and his disconnection were linked to unprocessed emotions from his past. By facing these emotions, he became more present and connected with his family. He felt more in control of his life, not less.

Building buy-in from the masculine protectors was crucial. Without it, standard psychotherapy would have continued to feel alien and unhelpful to him. But by reframing emotional exploration in terms that resonated with his protector parts, we were able to make real progress. So, it’s essential to address the masculine protector parts’ concerns and build their trust, use language and concepts that resonate with their values of strength, resilience and personal growth. By doing this, you can help them see the intrinsic value of emotions and pave the way for a more effective therapeutic process. [27:06.1]

Okay, to recap, we’ve covered a lot of ground today. We talked about why hypermasculine men often see emotions as obstacles, and how cultural conditioning reinforces this mindset. We explored the disconnect between traditional psychotherapy and more masculine clients, highlighting how typical therapeutic approaches can feel foreign and uncomfortable, and scary. We also went into how therapists can build trust with these clients by reframing the value of emotions in terms that resonate with their masculine protector parts.

Okay, let’s take this a step further. What happens if you stay afraid of and disconnected from your emotions? You might achieve a lot, sure, but at what cost? You’ll likely find yourself feeling empty, lonely and unfulfilled. Your relationships suffer when you can’t connect on an emotional level. Over time, this disconnect can lead to a sense of isolation, even if you’re surrounded by people. You might hit all of your professional goals, but still feel like something was missing, and that’s a really painful place to be. [28:11.0]

On the flip side, imagine being fully in touch with your emotions. You understand and embrace them, whether it’s sadness, anger, joy, love, and connection. This doesn’t make you weak. It makes you stronger and more resilient, more courageous. You become more self-aware and in control of your life. Your relationships improve because you can connect on a deeper level at will. You’re not just present physically, but emotionally and intellectually as well. You can find joy in the small moments and appreciate the richness of life.

Embracing your emotions opens up a whole new dimension of living. It’s like seeing the world in color instead of black and white. When you’re in touch with your emotions, you’re better equipped to handle life’s challenges. You face problems head on with clarity and resilience. Your emotional intelligence enhances your decision-making, making it much smoother and effective, and it enriches all of your life experiences and you end up becoming a more rounded, complete, fuller version of yourself. [29:11.0]

Thank you again so much for listening. If this has helped you in any way, please share it with anyone else that you think could benefit from it. Thank you so much for listening. I look forward to welcoming you to the next episode. Until then, David Tian, signing out.