There’s a lie men tell themselves, and each other, and it’s destroying their ability to survive in this world.
Men, there’s a lie so deeply ingrained in your psyche, that you may not even be aware that it exists. At times, it might actually seem like a truth. I believe this ONE lie is responsible for men being four times more likely to kill themselves than women.
First, a quick story before I share with you this lie.
A few months ago, I had one of those days where it felt like my world was coming to a crashing halt. The kind of day where everything that could go wrong, did go wrong. I didn’t want to kill myself, but I felt considerably stuck and needed support.
I couldn’t keep it together. The story that was told to me some 20 years ago — “just tough it out, boys (men) don’t cry” wasn’t holding much water in that moment. I was torn open and I needed help, yet I feared what I was about to ask for. The tears came rushing down my face, and my stomach tightened into a knot of repressed emotions.
I contemplated who I could reach out to. I thought about the handful of incredible people in my life. Many who were more than capable of holding the space for me to let out what I’d attempted to shove deep into my soul. But I was paralyzed. I was torn between the old paradigm of what it means to be a man, and my personal truth. I knew that I wanted to ask for help, and I’d seen the benefits of having that support in the past, but the shame that I was experiencing felt overwhelming. Even though I knew that asking for help is one of the most noble acts that a man can engage in, my identity felt threatened.
Through my own personal growth journey, I knew the first step out of my own misery. Accepting exactly how I was feeling. But the 6-year-old version of myself, who was criticized for letting out his feelings, resisted.
As my man Robert Frost said, “the only way out is through.” And, to change the current social paradigm of what it means to be a man, it must start with myself. The other part of this equation brought even more resistance: I had to pick up the phone and dial.
In the short term, stuffing my emotions or making up a reason why I shouldn’t reach out would’ve been easier. But telling myself that there’s nobody in my life that could support me in my most vulnerable of moments was a story I was not choosing to listen to anymore.
I texted one person I had in mind: “Hey brother, do you have 30 min to support me?”
I waited with a level of angst and build up that I’ve only experienced a couple times in my life. The phone rang, and I answered. Very few words came out of my mouth and I immediately began crying. After about 10 minutes of uninterrupted tears, there wasn’t much left within my insides. He mentioned a few things, he never judged, and was there to fully support.
Over the course of the call, The weight of the world left my shoulders and the knot in my stomach loosened. I was in labor and giving birth to my truth.
–The second that I chose to share what was truly going on, the shame began to vanish.
–The second that I understood that I’m not alone.
–The second that I reminded myself that it’s just a lie that I give no power.
This is what happens when we decide to share what true for us and get naked in front of another human being. Emotionally naked, that is.
The lie that says, men don’t _________ is ruining the lives of many men.You can fill this in with whatever societal condition that’s part of your life experience.
- Ask for help (or directions)
- Stay sober
- Do Yoga
- Get sensitive
I see the commonalities among the hundreds of men that I’ve been able to support. Upon our first interaction, they share with me how difficult it is to show their emotions, be themselves, shed tears, and ask for help. I show them the possibilities that there’s another way. There’s a path where you can actually be yourself without sacrificing your masculinity. There’s a way to be who you’re capable of being—without waiting for your favorite team to win the World Series to cry or stuffing your emotions with food, alcohol, and sex.
In fact, if you’re committed to living an extraordinary life, I urge you to choose yourself.
Because the more that you hide who you’re meant to be, the more stories you’ll be forced to create to keep this lie within your grasp. Men, what I most want you to know is that you do have a choice. You can hide behind the glory that is you or you can choose to create a support system to help you further embrace every part part of your existence.
I implore you to not wait a day longer. Surround yourself with peers that will fully support you without judgement. Create an environment where asking for help is encouraged. If you don’t have this already, join a men’s group, hire a coach, or get involved within an online community that will support you without judgement.
If you’d like some recommendations, I’d be more than happy to share some with you. This is a level of support that I believe all men should have regularly in their lives. Because having others that “have your back” make the next challenging day just a bit easier to navigate.
Photo: Flickr/torbakhopper HE DEAD