For all their gregariousness and bravado, young men are often profoundly insular when it comes to discussing problems they may be experiencing, often preferring to dilute their feelings with alcohol rather than risking appearing vulnerable by discussing them with family or friends. For a lot of males they see talking with others about a problem as a sign of weakness and not being able to cope - this was an old mentality that men have been brought up to believe. There is a shift occurring but it still has a long way to go and the only way the taboo of men keeping things all bottled up will be broken is by people being courageous, not caring about what others think, sharing that problem and redefining for ourselves what it means to be able to talk about our problems.
In my opinion it takes a whole lot of courage to open up and tell someone you need help. It’s brave, manly and a sign of strength that you are willing to admit you don’t know what to do next and want to learn new ways of coping. For anyone who has a problem that they are unsure or afraid of to share, you can be sure that there are many people with the same issue out there. In my experience, you are not alone.
Women need to encourage their partners, sons, brothers, friends to talk and equally, dads need to encourage their sons, brothers, nephews, friends or whoever it is in their lives to talk about any problems they have. It’s not about turning our lives into an episode of Oprah Winfrey or Dr Phil, but it can be as simple as a short chat over a cup of tea or coffee. As the listener we can often shy away from asking people how they really are because we are not sure if we can handle what we might hear. When it comes down to it most people don’t need or want you to fix anything they just want to be heard, to say what’s on their mind out loud maybe for the first time, to feel they are not the only one in their predicament. The power of just listening without saying a word has huge power. We will all probably be able to think of a time when we had something on our mind and the second we tell someone or open up about it, we get a sense of relief and feel some of the burden lifted. Don’t be afraid to be that listener, if you feel that someone is in trouble ask them to share, it’s not about you having to fix the issue, just to listen will help.
Sometimes it’s easier to talk to a stranger than to relatives or friends. The stranger will be unbiased, will know nothing about your background and can see things through a fresh pair of eyes. Counsellors, therapists, coaches or a helpline will not judge you but will give you time to talk, cry, shout or just think, provided you find a good one. It’s an opportunity to look at your problems in a different way with someone who’ll respect and encourage your opinions and the decisions you make. They all have a similar aim: to make you feel better and when it comes down to it that is all anybody wants.
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