That four letter f-word men use
Why do men struggle to talk about issues they are struggling with?
In this article, we'll explore the importance of talking.
"How are you?"
"I’m fine… Thanks."
Work is not going well. You ask yourself ‘Is this it?’, but you can’t change your career now, you have to pay the mortgage. Your relationship with your partner is not going well, but you reason with yourself that you just don’t have the time to sort it out or talk about it. You have not slept again and you are filled with anxiety, but you don’t know who to offload to, or where you would even start.
You are asked again "How are you?" and you reply "Fine".
Yes. That four letter f-word is ‘fine’, and we tend to use it all the time, even if we don’t mean it. Men say I’m fine to relationships, their work and careers, money issues and finances and to their mental and physical health and to grief. They say to themselves, "There is no way I’m letting my work colleagues or my friends or family know I’m not fine." It has been instilled into many of us that you can’t show vulnerability, you must keep your cards close to your chest, man up and get on with it.
Why do men do this so often? Is it seen as a sign of weakness or not man enough?
The more we harbour or suppress exactly how we are feeling, the more we are prone to negative or destructive behaviour, which in turn leads to stress, anxiety and insomnia.
This then leads to the deployment of coping mechanisms such as alcohol, drugs, gambling and engaging in social media to name but a few. They provide the instant highs we need to numb and suppress exactly what is bothering us, but as the highs wear off, the cycle continues. Suppressed emotions and stresses build up and eventually an explosion or breakdown is inevitable.
Some of you will have seen the stats. The biggest cause of death in males under the age of 50 is suicide and three-quarters of all suicide deaths are males.
It is vitally important for our mental health to have an outlet to talk things through, to be able to say, "No I’m not fine, and these are the reasons why."
Its vitally important that men know:
- It's OK to cry.
- It's OK to break down.
- It's OK to show emotion.
- It's OK to feel insecure.
- It's OK to struggle.
- It's OK to talk.
- It's OK to seek help.
- It's OK to prioritise your mental health.
Take time to find someone who you can trust. It may be a close friend, your partner or someone who is outside of your circle, who can be impartial and offer a safe confidential place for you to offload, process things and come up with a way to handle everyday stress or major trauma.
There is more courage and bravery in making yourself vulnerable and talking than in keeping quiet and bottling it up and suffering.
I help men to find that confidence and courage to talk. If any of this resonates with you I would love to hear back from you – drop me an email.