There’s a silent killer among men today that far too often stems from our directive to “man up.”
The harsh reality is that while women tend to have more suicidal thoughts, men are far more likely to die by suicide and it’s a trend across many parts of the World. Why is this?
I believe the answer is in our archaic idea of what it means to “man up”. Growing up I was taught that manning up means
don’t talk about your feelings
don’t acknowledge your emotions
Three things that women are more likely to feel free to practice and utilize often.
Three coping mechanisms that allow us to express the intense thoughts and emotions that can build up through stress and so many factors.
Three simple skills that men have not been taught early on in life because of this story about what a man is and what it means to “man up.” The lack of that outlet means we have men walking around as pressure cookers about to blow, unable to properly handle the stresses, anxieties, and intense emotions that come with life.
We have men (including myself years ago) who are silently struggling, unsure, and seemingly unable to open up and let out what they’ve been holding onto for so long. All they have to hold onto is the hope that this theory of manning up will end up serving them at some point.
I urge you to let go. Let go of the story you’ve been told.
I believe that as men, we need to redefine what it means to “man up.” The phrase is meant to be a symbol and reminder of bravery, courage, strength—true manliness. Yet, one of the strongest things we can do for ourselves and others is to be vulnerable.
Not to close off and disconnect, but open up and work through the intensity of it all.
To push through, knowing that through the pain there is healing and growth, rather than giving into our fears and allowing ourselves to continue suffering alone.
If you’re reading this and you’re struggling in some way—man up. Allow yourself to cry without feeling shame, reach out to someone you trust and have a real conversation about what you’re going through, and own up to the emotions you’re feeling.
If you find that you do not have the words to express what you’re thinking or feeling, you can use photography as a tool to help in your process. Find your way, do it and then lead to help others redefine what it means to man up. Together, let’s change the story of what it means to be a man.
Photo: Getty Images