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Man up!

Updated: Nov 10, 2021

Cut all that crying out. Man up! You acting like a little bitch! Man up! Only girls cry. Man up! Nobody cares about your feelings. Man up! You’re going to therapy? You must be crazy. Man up! You gone turn into a sissy if you keep acting like that. Man up! Why don’t you just man up?

These are just some examples of what boys, teenagers, and young men hear growing up: if you show any type of emotion you are less than, you’re not a man. In most cases we really are NOT men; we are young developing boys who are getting a false narrative of what a man does and how a man should act. Young minds are being poisoned.

Words sting, words hurt and words create men who don’t share how they feel, who think that expressing their feelings is for the weak. So what happens to us men who believe this narrative?

  1. We suffer in silence.

  2. We end up with a very unhealthy way of expressing our emotions.

  3. We turn to substances.

  4. We bury ourselves in our work.

These are just a few examples of what happens when men aren’t allowed to or don't express themselves. Of course we men think the examples above are going to make things better but they honestly just make things worse. And then add the fact that other men aren’t speaking about therapy, emotions, suicidal thoughts, depression or feelings. It's a recipe for disaster.

Look, I know two things that will make a man shut down. 1. You start talking about mental health and 2. When he hears his spouse or significant other say "We need to talk." But let's continue the talk about asking for help. Why do we shut down? Because we don't know any better. It's like you're speaking a foreign language to us and we can't relate this to how we're feeling because we've been taught not to feel let alone express how we feel. Mental health isn't talked about in schools or in most homes. SO, of course we don't feel comfortable speaking about our feelings because we don't know how. It's uncomfortable. Just like being summoned to have that dreadful "We need to talk" conversation.

Being vulnerable. Goodness that's tough to do. But imagine being vulnerable as a teenager and rather than receiving support being told "Man up" What damage do you think that could do mentally? So what do we do? We learn to retreat and keep it to ourselves, bottle up our feelings. Think about having all these feelings inside and believing no else can relate to what you’re going through because nobody is speaking up. Of course you would have some depression, loneliness or anxiety. Those are very real and scary feelings that a lot of men have and go through.

So, to all my fellas out there, if I am the first that you hear this from then so be it… YOU ARE NOT ALONE! There are many of us who battle depression, have anxiety, are overwhelmed and are afraid to say something or don’t know how to speak up. In fact, one in every three men have dealt with depression at some point in their lives. Trust me when I say that when you and your buddies are all sitting around having drinks, shooting the shit, you are not the only one who is feeling the way you do. The question is: are you brave enough to say something? If you open up the door to speak, think about the opportunities you would give others to do the same. Now THAT is what a real man does.

That’s part of what I do as a coach. I help build your confidence so you aren’t afraid to speak up , so you take the first step even if it’s just a baby step. When someone asks if you’re ok, you say “I’m not ok” and from there you have an opportunity to share your experience. Any step closer to a better you is a giant step.

We can work on other skills, such as when you see someone you think may be suffering. How to not ignore the circumstances. Acknowledging a tough situation is a big deal. “Hey, I know you lost your job recently. I just want you to know I’m here if you want to talk.” Maybe they will or maybe they won’t but you’ve reached out to acknowledge they might be going through a tough time. And acknowledgment can be more helpful than you know. If you still notice certain behaviors or patterns, then ask again. It doesn’t have to be a one and done or “I did my part by asking”. Asking twice could possibly break down that wall or at least put a dent in it. “Hey, are you really ok? I care about you and your well being and I’m here for you.”Or my absolute favorite: giving someone a damn hug. Sometimes that little bit of affection is all they need. It's a simple easy way to say: I got you and I'm here when you're ready.

If you are a man who is suffering in silence, you don’t have to. Talking with a friend, therapist or life coach could really be the start of you living the life you deserve. You are courageous and you are an amazing man and you are not a little bitch!

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