Updated: Aug 15
The state of mental health across the world has become a focus, with young teens to adults, committing suicide, simply because they are suffering emotionally in silence.
Men have never been known, to openly share their experiences, without the dread of opinion. 'He's too soft' or 'Just get over it.' I understand, during the war, men had to go out and fight, emotions were not a luxury then. There was very little time to engage with emotion, but soldiers are still human.
Yet, cultures around the world, still have the old mindset, that a man, must 'act' like one. This is an interesting concept, but in all honesty, let's be clear. There is no rule book, so, let's take a step back and reframe this. Men, just like any other gender, feel emotion, and their emotional health does need to be balanced. The word Emotion has no gender and if we look at the definition, it actually means energy in motion. Science also tells us, everything is energy, so showing emotion, is our natural way of expression.
Stresses of life
The world is moving faster than ever, with tech, mobile devices and every second, an ad pops up or a ping to alert us, all aiming to grab our attention. It's pretty hard, getting some quiet time. It doesn't matter what age you are, living in this time, is difficult. So, how do we de-stress?
Well, some say, meditation, others say, do yoga and the list goes on. For men, it's hard enough just going to the gym, and not every man wishes to be the Hulk, with bulging biceps. The realities are that men are living lives in silence, with the fear of ridicule. The list is endless, but finding the work-life balance can be stressful, sexuality and acceptance, maintaining relationships, financial stability or simply finding purpose, all add to the stress for men.
What's the solution?
There's no quick, fast remedy that can be bought over the counter or prescribed to treat fear. Yes, that's what I said, fear. Men have always played or acted the role, society expects at the cost of their true happiness.
Gary Vaynerchuck, CEO of Vayner Media said, that society is fearful of stepping out of our comfort zones for fear that others may not like us, because we have become inherently, people pleasers. This is true, for many, and if you can't relate to that, then good for you, as you are the minority, like Gary Vee, who tells it like it is.
The majority of men, even those, who are more open about themselves, will from time-to-time slip back into fear. Face the fear, look at it, recognise it, and then do the opposite. If you hide this fear and close off from sharing your feelings, it, unfortunately, shows up through aggression, mood swings, and many other outward reactions.
The best thing to do, as men, is to make the decision to be open, and also recognise that people who are not on board with the new you. That's the signal to change your circle.
Humans are designed to connect and form bonds, emotionally and romantically, but when a man's identity and backstory, includes resistance to sharing feelings, that will affect any friendship or romantic relationship.
Parents are also involved in the mindsets of their children, which may have an impact on their children's adult life. This includes the media. But, all that can be changed, with the right coaches and counselors to help unpick and re-frame these imprinted, no longer relevant experiences of the past.
Men do find it hard to talk about feelings unless it's a romantic nature, but, there are subconscious imprinted attitudes that men hold onto. Admitting they are not ok, emotionally, suggests they are not strong and not men, which is not true. To be strong, and emotionally available, requires vulnerability and to avoid this, it would go against the nature of being a Homosapien or Sentient.
Mental health was a taboo for many years, but as celebrities and those across social media talk about the issues of depression, it has opened the door for discussion. Men are now, talking about themselves more, than ever before. But, there's still a long way to go.
What's next for men?
To be a man or not to be? Maybe a better question to ask. If we look at the statistics that suggest mental health is the new epidemic spanning the globe, across cultures and religions. Men have the opportunity, to transform their lives, and re-write it.
Every man has a past, and this for many has defined them, but that doesn't have to be the case for the future. Life is what we make it. So, as a species, we can evolve and change radically, if we face the vulnerability and have the courage to open the emotional door. It isn't a pandora's box, it's your box.
The real Superman is not defined by his physical strength, but by his mental stamina and agility to fight all odds with vulnerability by his side. Every man has the 'Super' inside, they just haven't quite found it, yet.