November is being celebrated as men’s health awareness month. Globally.
If you are a man reading this I urge you to prioritise your mental health and if you are a women, be an influencer to the men in your life so they can walk on your footsteps of self-compassion and nurturing.
Men- The role of men have always been the protector. so they have to be brave in every situation to meet the societal standards. This fuels some very dangerous myths like:
Men don’t cry
Men cannot feel the pain
Men are aggressive
Men always dominate
Their purpose and self-worth in life has always been set by their net worth and achievements. In many of my coaching clients I have witnessed that they do not consider themselves to be successful if they not always chasing something- for most it is money, career success or a significant partner. So when they fail to achieve this they truly tend to feel that they are a failure.
They are conditioned to deny their emotions with the common misconception that emotions will make them weak. And, here is a fact about emotions, they are a part of our subtle body. They exist as predominantly as the air we breath in. They are always there as the energy in motion.
When we deny or suppress our emotions, this will not only lead to dis-eased condition in the body, But, it leads to total imbalance in our relationships with people around us. How can we get enough out of work and professional success when the two biggest pillars like health and relationships are compromised?
Bottling up and isolation
Even in this age of information, most men tend to stuff down their emotions mostly due to the fear of ridicule not by anyone else but their own loved ones, parents, peers, friends and colleagues. They tend to bottle up emotions as they are not allowed to express them. This phenomena has proved out to be most devastating.
This denial of feeling their emotions leads men into falling in the trap of addictions of all sorts-gambling, alcohol, narcotics, even tobacco are few to mention. Falling an easy prey to crime and criminal attributes. This further compromises their physical and mental health. once they fall in the trap of addictions it becomes difficult for them to come out of it due to the self-sabotaging, greater emotion of shame.
Body image issues
In today’s world which thrives on the advertising market, Just like women men can also have issues related to how they look and weather will they will be perceived well by the peers? And for some this is actually a real cause of trauma as it feeds on their childhood fear of - not being good enough!
Here are three quick things you can do to lead a healthier emotional life:
Now let me give you an example of two very strong emotions like anger and fear
When you encounter a triggering situation, a conflict or even a silent treatment. It is very likely that our primal brain of fight, flight or freeze gets activated. Yes, as a man you can feel fear. It is a very cardinal emotion. Once this get activated it gets translated into anger. And a part of brain would say before they attack me let me attack them. And before you realise you are already in middle of a strife. Expressing your anger, threatening your loved ones and in most cases women and children seem to come at the receiving end of it.
So here is what angry feelings are- a tightness in the jaws, pounding in the heart, increased heart rate, clenching of fist, frowning of face, trembling, Wanting to hit, smash or throw things. Observe in which part of your body you are feeling these emotions. Name the emotion. Instead of saying I am angry. Be an observer and say -this is anger. We are humans and all our emotions are normal and natural.
Since, emotions are energy in motion, they are sure to pass. Research indicates that a fit of rage can last only for ninety seconds. Step out or away especially from those whom you know you are likely to hurt now and regret later. Take deep breaths, journaling about your feelings and emotions is a wonderful way to get through an emotional crisis. If you feel angry often, pick a sport and play.
And lastly, over the years I have observed that those who take up to yoga, meditation and mantra chanting tend to handle their emotions well.
Men are an important key in building our organisations, society, families and nation. Practically and traditionally they are the front liners. So, yes their mental and emotional well-being matters as that will determine the quality of our society.
(The views expressed here are my observation of working with men in last couple of years. They are in no way stereotypical.)