It’s November and therefore the time of year when normally sane and stylish men suddenly decide to grow a moustache. Movember is a great cause and making men more aware of their health is a fantastic thing to be doing. I just had a look at their website for inspiration on where to aim this article and I was surprised to learn that Movember is not just about awareness of testicular cancer. There is also a big section on mental health too.
I was pleased to see this because I think this is an area many men don’t currently tackle head on. Currently only a quarter of the clients I see are men. Does that mean that men are more likely to be happy, fulfilled, balanced, and free from emotional issues. I wouldn’t have thought so. More likely, they either aren’t aware they could benefit from therapeutic help or they don’t feel comfortable asking for it.
When my Dad was born in 1924, he was born into a generation where men didn’t talk about their feelings. In fact, he was brought up to believe that once you grew up into adulthood, you didn’t even react from an emotional perspective. He has gone through his life thinking about things rather than feeling about them. From what he’s said, he was brought up that way. Now if you look at the life his parents would have lived, just prior to his birth, experiencing the terrible times of World War I, then that perspective becomes quite understandable. His father came out of the war with permanent physical reminders and goodness knows what emotional scars. And they returned to an environment where they were heralded as heroes and expected to fit straight back into the world they had left. The only way they would have coped would have been to shut away the emotions they weren’t able to process.
However, we are now living a century later. We are fortunate that we don’t conscript our men into our armed forces now. We are also living in a society where the roles of the sexes are more blurred than they used to be. Women are now expected to earn money and men are expected to be more open emotionally. Therefore the issues, that previous generations of men might have buried, now need to be dealt with.
The consequence of not dealing with our unresolved emotional issues is initially discontentment. However if we feel we can’t talk to anyone about them, this can very easily lead to isolation which is extremely harmful. If we are struggling and can’t reach out, we tend to push away those who are trying to help us, which can lead to a breakdown in our relationships. If this goes on and on unchecked, we find instances of where people end up in destructive addictive behaviours like substance abuse or unfortunately in suicide. I’m sure most people have read or heard at least one story about a suicide where the spouse or close family had no idea there was anything wrong.
The other result of unresolved emotions is behaviour neither we nor other people are happy to be around. We react based on our emotional memories and we project these onto the present situation and onto those around us. If you find yourself reacting in a way you don’t like, there may be more involved. Particular examples are of over-reacting, uncontrolled anger, feeling the need to control everything around you. And there are so many more.
We are all unique emotionally and we all carry this stuff around with us. No two people will have had the same experiences in life and also, no two people will necessarily have reacted the same way to a particular situation. The way we respond to stress is very individual and is determined by many factors.
However the good news is that, while we cannot change past events, we can change our perspective on them. This is what clears the stress and disconnects them from impacting our present day situations. We live in a society today where we are responsible for our actions, so it therefore follows that we need to be responsible for the emotions that may lead to certain actions. Deciding to take action to improve our emotional health is the first step in this. By clearing the unresolved stuff bit by bit, we become happier and more able to choose consciously how we’d like to be.
We can then be guided by our dreams rather than our fears and our lives will often take off in more ways than one. So, what are you waiting for?