We beat ourselves up about money, friendships, relationships, but you decide what's the next wise move. Life is for you, just make better choices - Ryan Allen, Founder of MATC Conference UK
We all have this human tendency to want everyone to like what we do or us, and the truth is - not everyone's on board. Hard to hear but true. And, you beat yourself up about it. Truth is, you have to realise you need honest, supportive friends or colleagues. Never over think it all, just realise they are sharing their truth, however it comes across, and you can either listen and accept it, or move on respectfully. Friends and respectful colleagues will champion you on, no matter what, and offer advice, with your permission.
It's valid to feel pretty annoyed and disillusioned - but you need to know who your social circle are and most of all, who are and are not on board. There's no drama but sometimes, you have to know as early as possible. May be, they never truly stood with you but just got caught up in the flow of mutual connections. It happens all the time.
Never forget people change, just like the wind. Respect is necessary and its reciprocal. Anyone who doesn't show you respect are not part of your tribe. Even those you may have reconnected with - the outcomes of that will tell you immediately, whether it's worth investing. There could be a number of reasons why people distance themselves, and it doesn't have to be all about you, it could be something entirely different.
'To blame or criticise yourself, usually in a way that is unfair or unnecessary' - Cambridge Dictionary
Men have historically been unwilling to share anything that's deemed emotional - and would rather beat themselves up, metaphorically speaking, and deal with challenging matters on their own no matter what. Not even their romantic partners know the truth and are left in the dark. And when men are staying quiet, it's no wonder they do - given that some TV personalities, who will remain nameless, have publicly mocked people who share their deepest anxieties only to be ridiculed for their transparency. It's alarming they have defiantly played down anxiety among men as an issue - despite the horrendous statistics.
In the UK alone, 84 men every week are taking their own lives and three-quarters of all suicides are men, which I would be curious to see how anyone - however defiant you are, deny we have a problem and it's our responsibility, as a society, to tackle it head-on. Men are finding life difficult and that's not going away, no matter how some may find this hard to digest. Statistics tell us that.
Avoiding the conversation and talking openly about men who are hurting, that would rather die than share their innermost worries is deeply worrying and cannot be overlooked.
“After many years of self-flagellation, I've realised that beating myself up doesn't get me anywhere" Chris Pine, Actor, Star Trek, Captain Kirk
It's astounding how many people think celebrities 'have it all,' without insecurities. Fame is not the ultimate and yet so many people still crave it, when we've had all the evidence to prove us otherwise. We have all seen and heard many have ended their lives by their own hand despite the wealth and accolade. Yet, they are not happy. Why is that? And why have we as a society become so numb to the realities of human behaviour drowning in despair that men in their 30s and 40s or even younger commit suicide. Here's a story for you. I was travelling on a train a few weeks back from Waterloo Station to South West London, when the conductor announced a man and an incident had occurred. No mention of what exactly, but that our journey would be slowed down significantly.
It was the only time when we all started to talk to each other and the talk of suicide was on our lips. Some rolled their eyes back and almost with an unnerving sense of annoyance about a possible suicide, causing a delay. That dawned on me, that we perhaps are not as caring as we might think we are, when we hear of a human being on a train track and our daily routines are disrupted, our reactions are telling. So, when I heard our journey could go no further, we all left the train and I thought to myself, that man could be someone's husband, brother, uncle, nephew and a part of me sank for the loss.
What's the solution?
That's the question that we must ask ourselves. Though the media may focus on Covid-19 and vaccinations which are important, men are not in a good place no matter how good they may appear. Men are skilled at masking their deepest worries. You have to know what you're looking for and know how to have real conversation.
Talking is the solution and not meaningless chit-chat but actual heart to heart conversation. It's hard for men to do this naturally, especially when we've been in someways conditioned to stay quiet, show no emotion and soldier on, which is such a cliched expression.
Masculinity And Identity
I interviewed a clinical psychologist, Dr Rufus May on my podcast show which is due for release in November 2021, where we talked about men and masculinity and the different roles men play. It was a fascinating conversation where we delved into aspects of Rufus' thesis about an Investigation Into The relationship Between Long Term Mental Health Problems And Male Gender Role Identity.
As I read on, four male sex or gender roles were spoken about (Brannon,1978);
1) No Sissy Stuff - The avoidance of all feminine behaviours and traits.
2) The Big Wheel - The acquisition of success, status and 'bread-winning' competence.
3) The Sturdy Oak - Strength, confidence and independence.
4) Give 'em Hell' - Aggression, violence and daring.
These manmade theories are interesting though I cannot say, I necessarily agree, that all behaviours are learnt or can be described in such a succinct way. Life is far more complicated. What I do understand is nature and nurture are at play or at war with each other. The word 'avoidance,' is the war between the feminine and the masculine. The suggestion that something is right or wrong. That's been the modern day challenge. However, nature is never wrong. It knows itself and is confident in its role within the ecosystem and doesn't try to dominate, it simply is.
Thankfully, we are more progressive as a culture, but we hold onto certain views, which we learned and was not part of natures voice. We heard, we learned and we adopted ideas about what men should do or be. It's no surprise, men stay quiet. But is it better that they do and beat themselves up for not being happy? I don't think, we realise that men, are really suffering in silence and it could be someone closest to us.
Men do not need to be strong all the time and those who choose to enforce these outdated and harmful ideas, should think twice. It's no wonder that people, have found themselves alone, in shock or surprise, that someone close, was in fact deeply sad and felt alone and stepped away from this world and now a statistic. We as a community, must be vigilant and present with anyone we are close to or believe we are close, to build honest and open bridges of trust, so men feel a sense, that talking openly is going to be received and not rejected by a quick remark. These are red flags for men. Just so you know.
Not dealing with the pain weakens you. It doesn't make you tougher. It makes life tougher. - Vincent Andriano, TV, Film & Theatre Actor
The burdens of life affect everyone, regardless of who you are. Men who portray strength are not always strong. No human cannot feel and we all bleed when our skin is cut. Nature has made it clear who we are and we for some reason avoid parts of what is only natural.
I understand that men during the post-war had different responsibilities and society was not as they are today. Men were expected to behave by societies rules not natures. It seems that as we lean towards meditation, connecting with our environment and all things that really cost us nothing to do, we are happier and that's nature.
Men as have women, evolved in many ways and accomplished great success and that's a positive thing. Equality has never been more progressive for men, women, and the LGBTQ+ community, but there is still more to do. We are progressive in technology but I get the sense we often forget the simple things give us pleasure that transcends beyond superficiality. And, as a habitual species, we can quickly forget even the worst of atrocities and fall back into habits, that do not serve or evolve us.
But, there is hope as many are beginning to realise the simpler life, being present, meditating, talk therapy and reaching out makes life far more freeing and lighter. The heaviness that bombards so many men, is because they have believed for so long, that being a man is simply performing rather than truly Be-ing and not Do-ing.
Society has evolved and it's time men do the same. Masculinity is an inner strength and knowing self deeply, with no care for others opinion to define or intimidate them. They brush themselves off when they fall and they feel when they need to, with no expectation of themselves other than, being honest and true. Compassion is nature. Trees grow roots and support other trees and is known scientifically, they help each other. That's nature.
We have one planet and we are losing men to suicides. This is not progressive and it's time that we take the pressure off men, through our conversations, behaviours of expectation. Give them room to breathe again. They'll stop beating themselves up, when you do.