How are you, really?

In Australia, suicide is the biggest killer of men aged between 16-45. So what’s going on? And how can we start to change things?

Most men who’ve attempted taking their own lives have wished that they knew there was help out there and people willing to listen. We’re going to talk about some common ways that men share their feelings and how you can help those close to you open up rather than shut down.

Firstly, let’s take a closer look at the way we speak to each other. Most of our conversations are about what’s generally happening in our lives, and it’s usually on a superficial level- what we are doing at work or what we are doing on the weekend. However, we rarely get to the good stuff, the chat around how we actually feel and what it is that’s making us feel this way. We need to give our feelings the attention they deserve. Why? Because our feelings are important, they’re at the core of what we are experiencing at all times.

In order to be there for others and have others be there for us, we must be willing to ask the question ‘how are you?’ Of course, we ask this all the time but we’re not asking, ‘how are you, really?. Give it a go and ask someone genuinely how they are and see the difference in their response.

People don’t have to be on the verge of a breakdown before this type of conversation is helpful. A large part of our own happiness is linked to having quality relationships in which we can talk honestly with each other about how we are really feeling.

So, what could come up when having an honest conversation? The answer is anything; tears, happiness, joy, sadness, despair, anger or maybe even very little. Whatever it is, we must simply be present and listen. Listening is the greatest gift anyone can give, it is free and it is kind. It means just hearing someone out. It’s amazing what this simple gesture can do for someone, the ginormous weight that can be philosophically lifted from tired shoulders.

Though it’s a natural reaction to try and make things better, it’s important that we try our best to not suggest ways for someone to ‘get fixed’.  Insinuating that someone needs fixing means that it’s not ok for them to be feeling a particular way, potentially adding to the guilt they could already be feeling.

Trying to ‘fix’ someone can be a difficult task to take on, it can be stressful and emotionally taxing for all parties involved, this is why it is so important to just allow the space for vulnerability, without expectation of a solution.

There may also be silence and this is ok too. We can’t expect that someone will open up immediately- some things are hard to talk about- but it’s important to be kind and patient.

The mere fact that you’ve made space for someone to be seen and heard will start to shift old belief systems that they are alone in this world.

Creating a space to be vulnerable allows us to share how we are. By sharing what’s going on in our lives, there’s a possibility in helping others see the normality of their feelings, the reality that we all struggle and we are not alone. We are able to bring to light the fact that every one of us will go through similar experiences in our lifetime.

It’s also important to ensure that we are looking after ourselves.  What are we doing for ourselves to make sure that we are ok? It’s fundamental to our own wellbeing that we take a minute to ask ourselves ‘how is my mental health’? ‘What have I done to ensure that I’m not overrun with life and disconnected from what I’m feeling?’. Some of the best ways to refill and reconnect is to spend some time in nature, alone.

When was the last time you took ten minutes just for you to sit in the sun, or under a tree? No phone, just you and nature reconnecting, time just for you to recharge and reset. Nature is essential in our ability to ground and come back to ourselves.

If you or anyone you know are struggling (which is everyone at some point) then reach out and have a talk with them. The Men’s Collective specialises in providing spaces for men where they can be themselves and chat with other men about how they feel. We encourage and highlight to everyone involved that we are all human and what we are experiencing is not something that should isolate us but instead connect us.

Much Love,

The Men’s Collective.

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