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10 Rules Men Must Break

Men meet shame, shame meet…. Dudes.

Shame has known men for quite some time, but men usually have no idea how much shame impacts their lives. Men are taught certain rules in shaming. Who knew?

In Men Healing Shame: An Anthology, Schenk, Everingham, Bly, and Kaufman (1995) discuss these shame rules and explain that these rules continue to be enforced without anyone even knowing.

The 10 rules of Shame

Okay, okay… so there are shame rules. What are they exactly?

  1. Control
  2. Blame
  3. Perfectionism
  4. Incompleteness
  5. Denial
  6. No Talk – yeah, I know!
  7. Disqualification
  8. Unreliability
  9. Not Allowing the Five Freedoms
  10. Moral Intimidation

The role of shame with these rules works like this: if you don’t follow a certain rule then you are shamed. Also, by following these rules you may shame others. For instance, when a man doesn’t have control of something or someone in his life (spouse, kids, finances), then someone in his life will ridicule him or mock him. Eg: “It’s just a joke, dude!” These rules maintain shame and dysfunction within families and relationships. They shame him.

To beat the shame, we must first identify what these rules are and then break them. Once identified, these rules show up everywhere. Watch out!

Often, these shaming statements come from a parent, sibling, wife, friend, co-worker, etc which is how these rules have lasted for generations.

Let’s look at Denial:

A teenager finds out he has failed a test that he thought he did well on. Then, on the same day he finds out that his family is moving out of state. Some feelings that this teen may be experiencing are sadness, disappointment, frustration, and due to the fact he feels like he has no one to share these things with, loneliness.

The teen feels like he can’t express any of these feelings because he has been taught for years to “toughen up” or “boys don’t cry”. He feels shame in how he is experiencing these feelings. He may say to himself, “ I shouldn’t feel this way, I am weak”. So, he tries to deny these feelings. The teen only expresses one emotion during this whole experience, anger. Due to the fact he has seen other men express anger in his life. He lashes out at his mom and dad saying all the hurtful words that he has in his arsenal. Instead of talking to him about this, they send him immediately to his room. More shame occurs.

These rules impact men both young and old. With society looking more at the socialization of behavior of men as seen in the recent Gillette commercial, looking into shame is a necessary step in uncovering what it means to be a “man”.

Think you might have a “shame” issue? We can help!

Schenk, R. U., Everingham, J., Bly, R., & Kaufman, G. (1995). Men healing shame: An anthology. New York, NY: Springer.

About The Author

Ben Balke Counselor for teens in Grand Rapids MI Ada MIBen Balke, LLPC

Ben enjoys teen counseling and working with young adults as they discover who they are, how to navigate school, and deal with social anxieties. He’s passionate about connecting with people and making sure they feel safe to work through whatever it is that is tangling them up.




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