Don’t Let Fear Become a Prison
This Movember, Hybrid’s Jon Bond writes about why being ‘the strong and silent type’ isn’t all it’s cut out to be, and why everyone (especially men) need to open up and ask for help when needed.
Why are we unhappy if we already have everything we need?
Some say there has never been a better time to be alive than now. Thanks to the huge developments in technology, everything you want is available almost instantly and at the click of a button. Everything has been designed to make life easier; ordering groceries online, using YouTube to keep your kids entertained, and even exercising in a virtual class. All for the sake of convenience.
Yet the pressure of modern life has turned stress into a habit. Disappointment and emotional discomfort has become the norm.
The “no pain, no gain” mentality
The rise of social media has given us glimpses into the every day lives of our peers, and all too often the message that’s portrayed is; “if we are not suffering in some way, then we are not succeeding”. The form of suffering can come in many guises; long hours, endless meetings, lack of sleep, restrictive diets, etc.
Having it easy isn’t “cool” on social media.
The very things we’ve designed to help us connect, have turned into instant self gratification machines which help to distract us, and temporarily numb our pain.
More and more people around the world, especially men, are suffering with some form of mental illness. A man dies every minute from suicide around the world, and most suffer in silence rather than be seen as ‘weak.’
“70% of men say their friends can rely on them for support, but only 48% say that they rely on their friends. In other words: we’re here for our friends, but worried about asking for help for ourselves. Reaching out is crucial.” – Movember Hong Kong.
Physical pain is fairly easy to diagnose, however when it comes to emotional pain, the brain is highly complex and we still don’t fully understand how it works on an emotional front. Generally speaking, humans as a whole don’t have very good mechanisms for dealing with emotional distress. Our instinct is to dismiss it and believe it’s “only a phase, it will pass.” We do everything we can to take our mind off whatever is troubling us only for the pain to resurface when we are alone. We put huge amounts of pressure on ourselves to live up to other people’s expectations which often times are not as high as we think.
We get scared of letting people down, letting ourselves down, and often times this all builds up and leads to a mental battle we end up having with ourselves that no one else has any idea we are having.
When this gets too much for us to handle and we start to lose this battle on a daily basis it leads to depression and in severe cases of depression which is a very serious illness it can lead to suicide which recently has been the biggest killer amongst men in their 40’s.
For me, the biggest mental battle has always been the fear of not living up to other people’s expectations.
This possibly stems from growing up without my father who passed away when I was a child. For many years after this pivotal point in my life, I largely hated everyone – no one could replace him and what I had lost. Many years later I realised that I had subconsciously started to see people as father figures and spent all my time trying to impress them.
I’ve had coaches, friends and even bosses that I’ve looked up and heaped that much pressure on myself to succeed not just for myself but to impress them and live up tho their expectations.
Being a ‘man,’ I never spoke about, and I never asked what their experiences were. I never asked for gratitude. I made these high expectations up in my head and they were always higher than that of the person, and often not achievable. In my own head I would change the goal posts, never being happy and never being satisfied that I did a good job. Over the years this has driven me crazy! It’s something I still to this day and haven’t got to grips with.
Often times, these high expectations I set for myself has helped me achieve things that I didn’t think were possible. But often times it’s also been my downfall, sometimes the thing that makes us great can be the thing that is slowly killing us.
So what can we do about this?
There are a million experts out there that will tell you what you can do to relieve stress; do yoga, meditate, get out in nature, exercise, go for walks etc. All these may be great suggestions.
But in my opinion step one is acknowledge you have a problem and that you are stressed.
Work out the cause and root of the issue. If you do not do this, you are only sticking a plaster over the problem and eventually it will still bite you in the arse.
Once you have acknowledged the cause, you must talk to someone about it – to your partner, your boss, your brother, mother, best friend – whoever it is that you believe you are failing. If it’s yourself, then get a professional. You must open up, be honest and reset the expectations of yourself.
We all know that physical pain is a warning sign so is mental and emotional pain.
Our number one issue as males is trying to be tough, men don’t talk about our issues or feelings – that’s not seen as “masculine.” Traditionally, it’s women who talk about their feelings and issues to each other. Well, maybe they are onto something! Because it turns out being the strong and silent type isn’t very strong at all.
Don’t let fear become a prison.
Have the strength to open up, ask for help when you need it.
Most importantly, remind yourself that YOU ARE ENOUGH. Doing your best in any given situation is enough. You cannot ask for more than that from yourself
Change your mindset drop fear and see how much the world around you changes
No one should have to suffer in silence we were put on this earth to support each other, I for one know my door is always for anyone who needs to talk, let’s all do the same you never know who’s life you maybe saving
One life, one love