This month is Movember and there’s plenty being said about men’s health, from our emotional wellbeing all the way to our testicular health….hmmm. The implications of poor health in these areas have lead to some pretty scary stats around suicide, depression and young dudes dying for things that can largely be treated.
So why the F aren’t guys talking about this until now and how did this whole mess begin you ask? Well here’s a couple of theories I have (gathered from the many men who have attended our events and some great books).
For a lot of men in Australia their dads or grandfathers went to the war, they saw and were exposed to things that no person should ever have to see. The military trained those men to suppress their emotions and keep moving to complete the mission. Swallow your feelings and survive.
When these men returned from the war many of them didn’t have the tools available to deal with these experiences. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) wasn’t something that was recognised until the 80s and so most of them just kept quiet and got on with it.
My grandfather came back from the war and did just that, he never spoke about the war, instead putting his head down and getting back to work. He never showed much emotions or expressed any of the hurt, fear or sadness that may have come up on his return. Unfortunately for a lot of our grandfathers, and grandmothers for that matter, this way of living became a way of being.
Pop culture mirrored this as the ideal way to be, John Wayne, Clint Eastwood and the military man persona was idolised and revered. The strong silent type became the norm, and so did the catch phrases, “just get on with it” and “harden up”.
When emotions are suppressed, when we push them down, they come out the sides or fester within us. Trapped emotions are closely linked to anxiety, depression, aggression, violence and in worst cases suicide. We know it is impacting many men and so we must ask, is this way of being still working?
Our generation are now changing the status quo. We live in a fast paced ever changing environment where things are constantly being questioned and challenged. We have the capability and knowledge at our fingertips to flip entire industries overnight.
If you are feeling that this status quo isn’t working for you anymore, here’s a couple of things you can do to create your own change. You can break the chain in the generational pattern and ensure that you move forward in a way that works for you.
Part of breaking that pattern is trying new things and stepping into the fear. It could be connecting in with another older male in your life and understanding his life and what shaped him. It could be having a vulnerable chat with a mate, or even just opening up to your partner when you’re next struggling. Allow these to become small parts of a larger effort to build your own emotional muscle and watch what happens.
If you find it hard to connect with other men or don’t even know where to start, we recommend going for a walk, going fishing, or doing something physical and throwing in some deeper questions in conversation. The questions might not be the type you would normally ask but that’s ok, these questions can be a gateway to a bigger conversation and a much more fulfilling relationship.
Here are a couple of questions I asked my Dad recently that may help you out:
- What was life like for you at my age?
- Who has been the greatest influence on your life?
- What do you think makes a man a man?
- Should guys talk about their feelings? Why? Why not?
- Are you afraid of anything? What makes it most scary for you?
- What’s one thing I should know about being a man?
Going through changes in the way you interact in the world can be tough, and you shouldn’t do it alone. Men’s Collective provides both a digital and physical hub to connect with other men that feel the same way you do.