All posts by Howard Todd-Collins

About Howard Todd-Collins

Grad.Dip.Couns.HS, M.Couns.HS, Counsellor/Psychotherapist, Consultant MACA Howard is the director and owner of Men and Relationships Counselling. He passionately believes that given the right space and environment, men open up and talk about their lives in a way that empowers them to take steps to change. He has a strong connection to the growth of men, with over 15 years experience in designing individual and group programs for men and fathers as well as facilitating human relations groups. Go to > and Learn About Our Consultants – What We Do And Why

Toxic Masculinity

How To Transform Toxic Masculinity

Is toxic masculinity creating a crisis for men?

The media seems to be consistently exposing the world of toxic men.

Politicians, entertainers, businessmen and actors are appearing amongst the many men abusing their privilege and power.

These men are acting out in toxic ways including:

  • Harassment and abuse of women
  • Aggressive, bullying tactics during political debate
  • Power and controlling behaviour that dominates work place culture
  • Explicit misogynystic views

Toxic masculinity is not a new term.

According to Wikipedia it is:

“used in the social sciences to describe traditional norms of behaviour among men in contemporary American and European society that are associated with detrimental social and psychological effects”

Sadly, the so called ‘traditional norms’ referred to in the definition above encompasses traditional male attitudes and behaviours such as:

  • Sexual aggression
  • Suppression of emotions, except anger
  • Tough men don’t need to seek help
  • Stoicism

In contrast, there are many good men in the world today who find the behaviours of toxic men abhorrent and shocking.

Therefore, a counter-balance to the negative characteristics of toxic masculinity is an appreciation of what makes a good man.

What is the essence of a good man?

Countless men are searching for more meaningful and authentic lives.

These guys are actively owning and changing their behaviours and attitudes.

However, the voices of these men are rarely heard.

Some time ago a good friend gave me a poem. Her partner penned the following words:
Toxic Masuclinity
About the author – Kym Faehsi is a trained art teacher, a practicing artist with 10 one man exhibitions to his credit, and has a lifetime of creative experience. I’m grateful for his permission to publish such a great piece.

Transforming Toxic Masculinity

The poem captures some important messages of change for some men.
Such as:
  • Be heartfelt
  • Have compassion and flexibility
  • Be able to calm anger
  • Have understanding and grace
  • Nourish, nurture and inspire
  • Learn patience
  • Offer Kindness
  • Be helpful
  • Offer wisdom
  • Be consistent and reliable

Could these be the attitudes and behaviours that transform toxic masculinity?

What do you think is the essence of a good man?

How men show up

How men show up in the world?

Men make themselves visible in all sorts of ways.

Some time ago, I presented a workshop at the Melbourne Pregnancy, Babies and Children’s Expo.

17 years earlier I attended this same event as a new dad.

At that time most men were hiding at the back of the hall!

They were sat in the café holding bags or boxes of goodies, supping a latte, checking their bank balance as their expectant partner roamed the stalls.

This time thousands showed up enthusiastically.

Sure, some guys had dazed looks absorbing the hundreds of services, products and toys on display.

Others were engaged with fresh-faced exhibitors being seduced by their discounts and hype.

There were men talking animatedly with stallholders, carrying their newborns, testing out the latest all-terrain strollers, taking their young ones to the animal enclosure and popping along to the workshops.

Then there were those who attended my workshop.

Showing up.

These guys listened, talked and made notes.

They focused on how to become engaged, involved, active fathers and partners.

They reflected on hopes and dreams for their pregnancy, birth and relationship moving forward into parenthood.

In todays world guys are more visible and present. They show up for their kids, their partners and for themselves.


Men who are visible in their relationship do so when they are present, expressive, playful, caring and interested in the lives of their partner.

Men also influence the depth of intimacy with their partner by sharing their thoughts, feelings, hopes, dreams, fears and vulnerabilities.


Today’s dad is no longer just the breadwinner and disciplinarian in the family.

He can be single or married; employed or stay-at home; gay or straight; an adoptive or step-parent.

Men who show their affection and increased involvement in their kids lives significantly influence their children’s social and emotional development.

There are many other areas of life where men show up including their work, community, faith and sporting activities.

The Best Version

The most powerful way for men to show up in the world is when they aim to become the best version of themselves.

Here’s a guide:

How do men show up?

How do you show up in life?


Just 8 minutes to relax your busy mind!

Does your mind get so loaded up with thoughts, tasks, people, events, or memories that you become overwhelmed and exhausted?

For many of us getting overloaded in such a fast paced busy world is a common experience.

Such a busy mind can be disastrous for your health and wellbeing.

The impact

The most common problems include:

  • Poor sleep
  • Lack of focus
  • High levels of stress
  • Poor decision making
  • Irritable mood
  • Anger
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Relationship conflict

There are too many people, blokes in particular, who exacerbate their overwhelmed mind by attempting to numb or wipe out their thoughts.

Many men get lost in behaviours such as:

  • Drinking excessive amounts of alcohol, including binge drinking
  • Addiction to illicit drugs
  • Over use of prescription medication.

Breaking the cycle

In some meditation philosophies the ‘monkey mind’ is a term used to describe how the mind swings from one thought to another like a monkey swinging from tree to tree.

It’s a powerful metaphor that describes the worst experience of feeling out of control.

Taming the mind with meditation requires lots of patient practice.

Research has shown how regular meditation and mindfulness practice assists mental and physical health.

The Benefits

Mental health benefits of mindfulness include:

  •  Increase connection with yourself, your partner and to others in general
  •  More balance and less emotional volatility
  •  Calm and peace
  •  Self-acceptance and self-compassion
  •  Becoming less judgmental
  •  Manage difficult thoughts and feelings safely
  •  Increase self-awareness
  •  Less reactive to unpleasant experiences

Physical health benefits include:

  • Stress relief
  • Aids in the treatment of heart disease
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Reduction in chronic pain
  • Improved sleep

Do you have 8 minutes?

Allow me to share with you a mindfulness exercise!  It will take just 8 minutes to practice!

I will guide you to clear some space in your head!

This exercise will get you to slow down, find some clarity or just simply press the pause button for a while and maybe even help you to sleep.

The benefits are enormous with regular practice.

I suggest 2 sessions of 8 minutes each per day. 16 minutes per day in total! Give it a go!

The exercise is narrated by my dulcet tones.

Simply press the link below.