One aspect of my work that I love is Men’s Mental Health.
I love seeing the transformation that occurs in men when they start therapy.
On the outside you would never know anything was wrong. He walks in with a mask on – covering his face and….his soul. He walks in with a hard, protective shell surrounding his entire being. How long it takes to crack the shell is different for everyone.
One man may walk in and burst into tears as soon as he has sat on the lounge. He has carried this pain around with him for so long – hiding it from every single person around him. He is exhausted. The mask is not holding up like it used to and so he breaks. Tears rolling down his face. “I can’t do this anymore”. “I have hit rock bottom”.
For someone else, it may take longer. You have to shift through the defensiveness. You have to build rapport and trust. You have to let him know that this is a safe place. Together you start to explore negative beliefs patterns, detrimental behaviours, family history and societal expectations. Gently the cracking happens, and they let you in that little bit more.
They are ready to start removing their mask.
There are differences with men and women. Our bodies. Our brains. Our make-up. How we learn, communicate, lead and express our ourselves. In order to be in our natural flow, we all need both masculine and feminine energy.
Part of the work that I do with men, is helping them to soften (although I don’t always use that word with the men!)
When you break through the hard, protective shell – you find a “softness”.
This softening though challenges our perception of males. Boys are raised hearing –
Don’t be soft
Don’t be a girl
Boys don’t cry
Times are changing though. Our society is starting to shift this perception. More parents are aware now of the determinantal impact these phrases have long term. We have more men speaking out now about men’s mental health, suicide prevention and domestic violence.
When a man learns to “soften” beautiful things start to happen. He can express himself more through both actions and words. He can label his emotions and learn to sit with them. He becomes an emotionally intelligent leader. His relationships improve. A weight lifts off his shoulders as he realises, he doesn’t need to carry it all on his own. His priorities change. He becomes a more hands-on father. Conversations change from surface level to deeper, more meaningful connections. He becomes a positive role model and inspiration to others.
Times are changing.
How can you contribute to this change? It may be at the personal level or it may be at the collective level.
We need men to step up and be the change.
Let’s reduce these awful statistics of mental illness, suicide and domestic violence.