Today, for some, it can feel like being a ‘man’ is a bad thing.
Whether it is ‘toxic masculinity’, mansplaining or just “Men” followed by an eye roll, being a man can be a volatile and confusing place to be.
Now I want to say on Front Street, this is not a “Men have it worse” or even a “Fight back against the portrayal of men” kind of thing. I get that for all of time we have had the easiest road and also that there are a lot of blokes who are unaware, stubborn or just awful.
However, year-on-year suicides among males are going up, depression rates going up, unattended funerals are over two-thirds for men, 61% of divorces are started by women and the UK even had to create a “loneliness minister” to deal with the epidemic.
Did you know 72% of men in the UK reported that they have not one single person in their life who asks how they are doing daily?
The sad truth lads, is that we have all been sold a lie.
When we were young, the message was to be a man you have to be tough and the more pain you endure the tougher you are! You never talk to your mates about anything serious because if you did that in school you get absolutely torn to pieces, you will be judged by your job and how hard you work and the more time you put into it, the more your wife and kids will be grateful and love you when you get home. Grind, hustle and repeat.
It never works. Let me tell you the pattern we see every day.
The man throws himself into work and achieves a lot, maybe even financially, but when he gets it, he feels a bit empty, like it didn’t feel how he wanted. He can’t tell his partner or friends because on paper he’s a success and has a beautiful family.
So the loneliness kicks in, and this then turns to anger at his position, maybe he yells at the kids or lashes out at his partner. This leads to shame, but still, he has nowhere to turn, so he sedates himself with drink, porn, drugs or maybe even more work.
His relationship collapses because he’s spent more and more time at work, working harder for a family that never gets to see him, he wonders why they don’t appreciate what he does and they wonder why he is never there when life happens.
It all breaks down leaving him alone, confused and empty.
I have seen this more times than you can imagine. CEO’s of multi-million dollar companies, Olympic athletes, Technology giants, business leaders and just the normal bloke you see on the street fall into the cycle of suffering, maybe you’re reading this and see yourself.
The good news is there are things you can do to address this, to live a life of love and presence and enjoy it.
Try the following:
Don’t get into a standoff, male friendships need effort and maintenance. Be like a sheepdog and arrange a regular event in the diary. So people have plenty of time to organise. Regular pub, curry night, games night all work.
Join a men’s group, there are a bunch out there. I run The Better Man Project which I love but bias aside there is a tonne out there, find one where you can talk to men trying to get to where you are. You’d be shocked how much most other blokes will relate to where you are at and the support you get is amazing.
Practice courage when talking, I know it might be tough but keeping things bottled up doesn’t l
ead anywhere good.
Appreciate being a ‘man’. You don’t have to be an emotional wreck all the time or be a stoic statue, its about having more tools in your box, so if you have something you need to discuss you can, if you need to be tough then you can.
If you know anyone who would benefit from this please share it around and if you know anyone who needs to talk you can always find me on Linked In or at www.thebettermanproject.co.uk
Just make sure if you need to, take action, don’t stay still in no man’s land.