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June 13, 2022
Advice on men’s mental health from the men of Complete
This week is National Men’s Health Week. Healthy bodies, hard exercise, good diet, and regular visits to the doctor are all things we associate with keeping healthy. However, it is important to understand that mental health is just as important.
So, we have asked the men of Complete to give advice on how you can find the strength to open up and talk about your thoughts and feelings.
It’s often said that a problem shared is a problem halved and that men need to get better at talking to each other about how they feel. But such advice is only really true if at the end of the conversation there is a sense of relief, connection or progress. Sometimes a problem shared maybe be a problem reinforced. If I vent my irritation to a friend I may just be practising irritation and the more I practice that the better I get at it. So over time my sharing of irritation means I become skilled at being irritated and then I start experiencing it more of the time. So my advice is if you do talk to someone about how you feel then make sure that such a chat is not a rehearsal or reinforcement of the problem.
Ideas about being a “man” are becoming more fluid, but outdated ideas about “masculinity” are still a strong undercurrent in many professional men’s lives. We’re supposed to be direct, strong, know our stuff and lead from the front. When we compare ourselves to ideals we will always come up short and feel we’re not good enough. My advice is develop the habit of appreciating yourself for who you really are and sense into how that feels energetically. Regular appreciation of self is the natural antidote to self-judgement and over time it can be a safe harbour in any challenging storm.
1/ Know you’re not alone – us men are very good at putting on masks and hiding our emotions and true selves, but we all have our demons and vulnerabilities
2/ Don’t be afraid to open up to loved ones. We often think we have to always be the ‘strong’ one with spouses, kids, friends. I found it quite scary when I started sharing my fears and vulnerabilities with my wife and was so happy when she wasn’t surprised at all (usually, they know us better than we know ourselves) and was so supportive and helpful.
3/ There’s no shame or embarrassment in asking for help, whether that be from a friend, boss, colleague, coach or therapist
It seems to be universally human that we think our problems are unique to us and because we think they are unique we assume that nobody understands us and self-isolate. Nothing could be further from the truth. There is nothing that you are experiencing that has not happened to someone before that has dealt with it and come out stronger on the other side. Keep looking, you just haven’t found the right guide yet!
Find a space where you feel safe enough first to be still and then to explore. This may be with yourself or with somebody you can trust, but if you never find this external space you will never find the internal space to take the next step.
We all face challenges, no matter who we are or, how strong, how fit, how wealthy, how healthy, how developed, how well located, supported and connected we are or think are are or are not.
Life is a journey and development is a cycle, we all feel stuck at one point and normally when we least expect it. Just don’t stay stuck, acknowledging you are stuck is the first step forward to finding that next small step forward (see all the other great tips for suggestions on the next step) and then keep moving and learning and developing, it will be bumpy, not always easy or enjoyable but keep moving, one small step at a time.
A physician and neuroscientist, Dr. Alan Watkins is recognised as an international expert on leadership and human performance.
Over the years he has coached thousands of individuals to greater levels of performance, transformed organisational cultures and helped leaders discover new ways to succeed. Alan has become a confidant to many of the world’s top leaders over the past 22 years.Read bio