Men’s Journalings

I had been having trouble actually composing this post. I want to address this issue, but believe it or not (seriously) I am having trouble thinking on how to do so. I suppose simple is best: Should men keep a journal?

Women have long been well-known private diarists. Women also are more willing to talk with friends and family.

In contrast, men – and being one, I suppose I have some insight – tend not to talk about their feelings very much. We are conditioned to put our heads down and get on with things and not spend too much time thinking on how we “feel.” Thinking about our “feelings” has in its way long been viewed by many in U.S. and European societies (I am most familiar with those) as weak and even unmasculine (and I suspect most men believe – rightly or wrongly – that women are unimpressed by men who are perceived as doing so).

When I was younger, I was a letter writer. In recent years I blog (obviously) and as you probably know I write books… meant to be read by others. In a sense, I have written little that is meant to be entirely “private.”

One of the most famous (in European society) efforts at private journaling by a man is second century Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius’s Meditations. (Actually, he called it “Things to one self.”) It was apparently not written for publication. Writing down his thoughts was evidently at least partly his way of passing the evenings mostly during a period while stuck fighting on Rome’s northeastern frontier.

Marcus it should also be remembered was no saint. Despite Hollywood portrayals he was often as much of a killer as emperors before him. However, he was well-educated, including in the “Stoic” philosophy of “self control.”

What his “journal” – if we can call it that – especially achieves is it makes him more “accessible” to us than other emperors in him demonstrating a self-seeking and thoughtfulness that we don’t usually ascribe to a Roman emperor.

“Mental health” has become a much-used expression during the pandemic. It is now seemingly offered as a “catch all” in a way that may not always be helpful. (Marcus probably, by our now common use of the term, may have had “mental health” issues himself.) However, it is important that we not lose sight of the difference between being a bit glum on occasion (and the pandemic certainly did not help any of us in that sense) as opposed to being clinically depressed.

You may think this is odd, but I feel public writing is better for our “mental health” than private writing. First, I believe if we are uncomfortable speaking about something with friends/family, that writing something(s) coherently for others to read may be helpful. Second, writing our thoughts inside a journal that no one else sees is not necessarily going to be much help with our outlook; we might as well talk to ourselves when alone in the shower – no one is going to disagree with us in either situation.

Most of the “relationships” and “feelings” bloggers I read seem to be women. Women tend also to write online more in terms of “relationships” and “feelings” than do men. Maybe that needs to change.

Have a good weekend, wherever you are. 🙂