Mental Health: The “Silent Epidemic” Killing Men

The epidemic may be silent but enough is enough, men, we need to continue and raise the conversation on mental health. Did you know that suicide rates are higher among men, than in women, and that this seems to be a global trend? Furthermore, the suicide rate is steadily increasing with age, which means, guys, the longer we keep bottling up our emotions and suppress what we feel, we’re only more likely to arrive at that point of no return. There’s hope though, but keep in mind my advice and concern can only go so far. In truth, only you can truly save yourself, but you’ll have to drop the ego to do so, and let go of every way in which you define yourself as a ‘Man’.

Despite what we’ve been led to believe, we’re not born as fearless heroes and we’re not born to rule the world. I promise you that the world will not fall apart if we express a little emotion and communicate the truth about how we feel. In-fact, we’ll be doing the world a favour by doing so, making it more equal and life more liberating for all.

I coach a wide variety of clients internationally, but this year alone I have worked with more men, and first off let me tell you, mental health does not discriminate. Whether your white and powerful, or you’re brown and proud no one is protected from this. If your old and wise, or young and resilient, you are not protected from this either. Money, sexuality, what you do for a living, your relationship status, your good morals, your tough exterior, your balanced upbringing, and whichever other way you define and associate yourself with, will not protect you from the emotional ailments that feed on the suppression of truth. So if you think that this does not apply to you, you are very very wrong, and is just another reason why this problem among men has been dubbed a “silent epidemic

Coaching both men and women, I’m constantly learning of the many perspectives people have of the modern-day man, and the issue restricting men really comes down to representation and how it shapes expectation. For example, what parents expect of their sons, what partners expect from their men, and what men expect for themselves is something that is probably learnt and not naturally inherited.

Everywhere we turn there seems to be a representation of men being brave, bold, strong and successful, predominantly fearless in the face of a challenge and affirmed in his character. Physically weaker men and emotionally sensitive men are often portrayed to desire a stronger more masculine exterior, for they’re usually presented as inadequate and unattractive; as the ‘lesser-man’. Watch nearly any mainstream superhero or action movie, and it won’t be long before you see these characterizations.

Men with emotional ailments are taught to “man-up”, because, again, it is taught that it isn’t natural for a man to suffer emotionally. It seems the message we receive as boys teaches us that our self-worth is determined by our masculinity, and what it means to be a “Man” – which is a message that is very much incorrect. Now I’m not saying that these representations are negative traits, I mean as men we have little to complain about when it comes to positive representation, but if that’s all we’re represented as, then is it any wonder we have a difficult relationship with vulnerability?

We’re rarely represented in a vulnerable light, which is why the world doesn’t expect us to be vulnerable, nor do we really know how to be vulnerable without compromising our emotional integrity. It’s why we fear being seen as vulnerable too, because it conflicts with our learned expectations. As men, we need to widen the representation pool and campaign for more vulnerable depictions of the male identity, and we can only start this process when more of us open up about how we feel behind closed doors. It seems as if we’re programmed to forget that feeling vulnerable is a human trait, and that every man is human. Which I suppose is an accurate statement to make, as we only have to look back at religious texts dating back many millennia – the media of the day – to realize that most Gods and God-like characters in society were referred to as “he” and depicted as men.

I work with motivation for a living and as my career develops, I realize everyday the fundamental mistake we make when defining ourselves as men and why so many of us, all genders included, fail to attain any sense of self-realization. Truth is, we put our gender identities before our very own existence. We somehow fail to realize we’re human, and that our conscious experience is a human experience first and foremost, not just a gendered one. Any emotions you see depicted, and every single emotion you experience, they’re all human emotions, and any emotion that humanly exists can impact any one of us at anytime. It’s entirely a myth to believe that men aren’t affected by certain emotions, such as: insecurity, anxiety and depression, because they’re all human traits designed to help us navigate through life. Therefore, to deny or suppress such emotion is, from my experience and understanding, an extension of self-harm.

Being a “Man” is the equivalent of playing a character, and it’s when you don’t feel like that character, is when you fail to perform – in every interpretation of the word. It’s a human trait to want to survive, so if you’re not feeling like you can go on any longer, and you’re losing the will to live, then drop the role and realize you’re having a human experience, instead of a male one. Don’t think about resolving your issues like a man, you must resolve your issues like a human, unbound by gender.

Crying is a human trait; sadness is a human trait;  fear is a human trait; expression is a human trait; desire is a human trait, and anyone who judges you (yourself included) for any human trait, is just another being who has lost touch with their humanity, and submitted themselves to a restrictive human-like character.

Our human potential is where our focus and attention should be, and exploring life as a human as opposed to just a man, will detach us from the roles and ideologies which meddle with our self-worth and esteem. Deal with your emotional ailments as any human would, and set yourself free from the limiting beliefs of Man.

Advertisements

How to Tame the Ego

Success is like a drug, and like drugs it comes in many forms: a return on investment, a fulfilling experience, or even reaching a higher state of consciousness. And just like drugs, success can develop into an addiction, and the only way to sustain the addiction is to feed the ego. The ego is the only thing that can convince you that the success (the drug) is all you need to live for.

My ego has fought for dominion over my conscious experience my entire life, and with each success, my self-awareness weakens and becomes a window of opportunity for my ego to reign.

puppet-1406906_1920.jpg

This week has been a series of wins and with each ‘hit’, I could feel my identity escaping me. When you succeed, in the very traditional sense of the word, the world starts to take notice and sort of validates your self-worth with every like, comment, congratulatory call or text. Each validation enhances the ‘high’, and it’s a difficult feeling to escape. I mean, who doesn’t like being validated by someone else?

Over the past few years, I feel my biggest accomplishment has been developing my self-awareness, and when my behaviours started mimicking that of my ego, it was time to put it back in its place. I found myself constantly checking my phone for red notifications, replying “thank you”, to comments from people who don’t really give a sh*t, and allowing myself to believe that only I can do what I do, which I know for a fact isn’t true. That’s not the life I want to build, that’s not the life experience I want live, and nor is it the life I want to share.

Praise is like positive reinforcement, the behaviours (the successes) I was being rewarded for (praised for), we’re reinforcing the idea that if I repeat these same behaviours, I can expect to be rewarded again. Soon, my purpose is replaced with the desire for more praise and validation. This entices the ego to come out and play, and to take control over my life in order to sustain this rewards based system.

monkey-2418851_960_720.jpg

If I let this happen I restrict my potential, because it’ll only motivate me to do enough to keep others happy and keep my ego satisfied. It also places an overwhelming expectation, an unnecessary pressure which’ll distract me from being able to just, be. It’s a difficult behaviour to undo, a difficult behaviour to defeat, when this is what we’re taught from a young age. That the only reason to do anything, is for the reward.

We rarely praise each other for feeling completely content with where we are in our lives. Rarely are we impressed with people who are just happy on their journey, wherever it’s headed. It’s always a sort of “that’s nice” or “good luck” or “you’ll go far”- a compliment that suggests we should be doing more for a reward/better reward. I remember these praises, because I got them a lot when I started blogging. It was only when success grows, do people feel compelled to reach out and say “well done” and “Congratulations!”

Where’s the appreciation for just existing and being you? Why does being you and doing what you do naturally, have to be worth something in terms of “success”, before you’re appreciated at all?

monk-1409820_1920

This is what years of feeling insignificant does to us, when we grow up feeling insignificant any experience of validation becomes a high, just like a drug, because the experience is so surreal to us. We want more of this unreal experience. We’re rarely taught that who we are is enough, so a lot of us spend a lifetime chasing the high for no other reason than to just feel worth something. Forever trying to prove our worth, and less time developing and learning from it.

We all have a reason to exist, we all have worth from the moment we’re born, and I think the ego is tamed when we accept that. When we accept ourselves life becomes this wonderful journey of discovery, instead of a mission to know and have things just to justify what we think we know, which is often very far from the truth.

When we equate validation to acceptance, to love, and to appreciation, we lose sight of our own capacity to accept, love, appreciate, so we blindly validate ego.

Without the attachment to traditional affirmations of success: the nice house, the flashy cars, the perfect relationship and all the other trimmings sold to us on social media, who are we? I think it’s a reason why so many relationships tank, why so many great ideas fail, and so many of us give up on things we’re passionate about so quickly. It seems if we don’t get the validation it’s not worth the experience, so we give up or do the minimum to sustain whatever we’ve built.

man-2548156_1920.jpg

All I did was start expressing my truth and once I got comfortable with it, I navigated my truth to different experiences, and the experiences taught me how to share it. Living more authentically gave me the courage to explore the things that truly interested me, and the more I learned, the more I invested my life into it. I was developing my passion and as my passion grew I identified my purpose, all because it just felt right, natural even.

This is why I wrote this post today, to save me and the future me from my own ego. It may not be well written, nor will it ever be perfect, but it’s me, and so long as I continue to express myself honestly, I’ll continue to develop and grow me into the best version of me I can ever be.

I think if we all work hard to develop self-awareness and actively help each other keep our egos in check, relationships will inspire, passions will be pursued and life will become a freer experience to live.

cropped-sidhu_terry-logo_smsq.png

Why are you afraid?

Imitation = Fear

Imitation is an expression of fear, because we imitate to blend in, to be accepted by society, and for others to notice that we fit in and that we belong. We imitate because we’re afraid of being rejected should we ever reveal our truest selves.

Many of us, predominately in the West I feel, are searching for that sense of belonging from a very early age. Think about how a toddler behaves, they walk around confidently, wearing the rawest version of themselves. Forever curious, they’re always in search of answers. Although it may not last too long, toddlers are also very compassionate, incredibly loving and confidently expressive.

I think as conscious awareness develops, there comes a time when we become curious about ourselves and our place in this world, and I think it’s at this crucial point when fear of expression starts to develop. It’s like we spend most of our lives slowly breaking free from a cocoon and once free, we’re very quickly misguided.

As we develop some independence we turn to the world around us for guidance on this human experience. However, the world is still very much an unequal place and as we receive its messages, predominantly through mass media, the majority of us feel underrepresented. When we do not see ourselves being represented, we quickly learn to feel that this is a world in which we do not belong, so what do we do? We imitate.

We buy into popular trends, we follow false idols, and we mimic those who are presented as most-self-actualized. We often do this so blindly that it becomes normal, until the distance between who we really are and who we’ve presented ourselves to be is so wide, that we become afraid to face the truth, and/or unsure of it.

It develops an anxiety of sorts, an uncertainty about the future and thus the quest for happiness continues to be a trivial pursuit. We feed fear each time we deny ourselves the opportunity to be liberated.

What are you afraid of?

I suppose we can measure fear by how much of our lives we spend imitating others. The world accepting us for how well we imitate it, is not the world accepting us. We’re merely helping the powers at be, reinforce their egos. If we want to be represented then we must show the world who it is that needs representation. However, chances are we’re all one of a kind and when we accept this we probably won’t care for representation, because instead we’ll be seeking only inspiration.

Remember the key to fulfillment, in any aspect of life, is a strong and affirmed identity.

Be you. Be inspired. Be Inspiring.

Read the full post here.

The Courage Found in Creativity

open_box

Our imagination can take our minds to places we never thought possible. We all have this beautifully engineered component which gives us the capability to, safely and securely, explore alternate realities and ideate to our hearts content.

It’s through exercising this ability we’ve been able to progress and evolve as a civilization. Many of the things we take for granted today, are the result of someone courageous enough to pluck an idea from an obscure reality and make it real.

One of my favorite pieces of advice to share with people who lack courage – is to create. Creativity is the key to unlocking our minds and understanding our own identities. It’s the opportunity and freedom to be ourselves as we explore the world within.

Being creative; that first brush stroke or note, that first idea or theory,  that first movement or moment…it’s like switching on an engine, shifting into first gear and beginning that journey towards courage.

Engaging in our creative abilities allows us to confidently explore the truth within and explore the depth of our potential. As we shift into higher gears and really begin to indulge our identities, as we navigate through the limitless multiverse that is our imagination, we’ll begin to see sense in our creations and stimulate a unique purpose for our own lives.

We all start our lives living on instinct and raw emotion. As children we have that confidence and courage to explore and be open and expressive. As children we yearn to be understood and accepted, yet as we grow older, the paradigm shifts as we climb into a box and try to fit in; in fear of being different.

As we nestle into these boxes, a dilemma soon arises when we become increasingly aware, of how lonely it is living life boxed in by perception and the classification of normality. They limit creativity and curb our opportunities to innovate and express ourselves, because we continue to play within a space which we naively consider to be harmless. Yet it weakens courage and dwindles confidence.

They also limit our connection to others. They restrict how much we are willing to share and how much others have available to explore. Eventually, stepping outside of our proverbial boxes becomes a nonsensical notion, as we deem those living blissfully free from these restraints: brave, inspiring and/or foolish.

So if you’re sitting there reading this with hopeful desires, wishing and waiting for that one day, that one opportunity to lead your life into greatness. Then let your imagination soar and express your creativity and as you continue to create, you’ll find the courage to step outside of your box and showcase your identity.

VanCity

What We All Want.

VanCity

Today, I led a discussion and met with people living very different lives, about life and relationships. Although there were so many differences, we stripped back experiences until we hit raw, genuine, emotion. Some cried, some got angry, but we all laughed, and as we explored everyone’s identities, we discovered what we all truly wanted from our lives, from others and within ourselves.

Since, coaching and connecting with people from all around the world, it’s never been more evident that we all strive for the same thing. To just live our lives, as ourselves without compromises.

I’ll admit, people’s perception about what I do got to me. Even I began to think this whole coaching gig was going to be about helping people set a few of goals and motivate them to achieve it. However, today I was reminded of why I got into this in the first place and I can’t even put into words, how it feels to see someone leave a session, with more confidence and excitement about their own lives moving forward.

Over the last few weeks, a mother understood the influence she has on her child, a son understood the pedestal he was placed upon and someone who had lost their identity to their career, learned that they had much more to offer than what was expected in exchange for a paycheck. Someone dealing with loss faced their guilt and finally felt ready to accept what they could not change. Another was awoken to the negative influences impacting his life…

After achieving what I had today and over the last few weeks, I’m more than happy and confident to end this note with:

Kind regards,

Terry Sidhu – Relationship and Life Coach.

Why You Should Always Challenge Yourself

challenges-ahead

When was the last time your identity was pushed to its limits? When did you last overcome an intimidating challenge?

How you deal with and overcome challenges is a skill you develop. If you’re pretty good at it, chances are you’ve come across many challenges in your life. You’ve probably developed your skill well enough to withstand an array of pressures that life can throw at you.

One thing I advise people who pursue their own success, is to avoid complacency. The world and how it operates continues to evolve and change and our nature is to adapt to these changes. If you’re not nurturing your ability to overcome challenges, the more difficult it’ll be to adapt, more so when challenges are unavoidably presented.

As you become adapted to a life you’ve built, you may have learnt to avoid challenges as you nestle into comfort and ease. If you’re settled into routine and are comfortable in the everyday motions of life, it’s important to set yourself and see through goals/challenges regularly. They help you to strengthen your mindset, thus allowing you to tap into your identity; the stronger your will, the more confident and determined you’ll be to succeed in the passions YOU want to pursue.

Challenges present several learning opportunities that teach you more about yourself than you once thought. Challenges are a constant reminder, proof even, that personal potential is truly uncapped. If you’re constantly nurturing this mindset, you build up a tolerance against negative infiltrations like procrastination, doubt, insecurity and anything else that keeps you from reaching your self-actualized state.

Your mind as well as your body can be pushed to surprising limits and in order for you to continue your journey towards self-actualization, you should seek to challenge yourself whenever an opportunity arises.  You should always keep your mind and your body engaged in a constant state of improvement and progression.

Regularly engaging in challenges also helps you build up a tolerance of what you can handle at any given time. Remember, the more success you accumulate in your life, the more challenges you’ll come across to maintain and grow it.

Always continue to push yourself further today, so that you’ll sail through the challenges of tomorrow.

Vancouver Relationship and Life Coach

10 Ways to Feel Better About Yourself and Into a Positive Mind-Set

Brush it off

Whenever you’re having a bad day or just need to clear your thoughts, try adopting some of the following principles to uplift your spirit, so that you can continue to deal with whatever life decides to throw your way.

#1 Liberation

Be honest and confess your heart out. We all have secrets that weigh us down, things that we continue to push back into the deep, dark corners of our minds. These repressions only add insult to an already difficult time in life, free yourself from the burden of locking up this stress and liberate yourself today. There’s an emotional freedom and strength you develop when you unlock both your heart and your mind.

#2 Withdrawal

There are certain things in life that occur outside the bounds of your control. You can either let this negative impact consume your spirit or, do what I prefer to do: plaster on a smile and say (aloud) “Fu*k it!” It’s my way of remaining in the present, not fearing what the past has to torment me, nor what the future has waiting for me (#fuckcancer).

#3 Bliss

Take a drive, book a weekend away, go out…do something for yourself that allows you to comfortably express yourself. Always take time for moments of bliss, to feel comfortable in your own skin; free to just be yourself. Personally, I book a trip away every quarter just to break away from the insanity that we refer to as the “real” world.

#4 Serenity

Go on a communications hiatus. Turn off the phone, close the laptop and pick up a book or engage in an activity that gives you time to relax and recover. Take time out to listen to your thoughts and be at peace with time. You can become so reliant on staying connected, that you can end up losing touch with yourself.

#5 Gratitude

Remind yourself of everything in your life that you’re thankful for and show appreciation towards it/them. Whether you’re grateful for the roof over your head or the people in your life, spend time protecting and showing appreciation to your most cherished assets. Oh, and don’t forget about your health; look after your mind and body.

#6 Community

Nothing eases the pressures of life than supporting others that could benefit from your help. Humbling, freeing and incredibly rewarding, helping others can really snap you out of negative thought processes. It can remind you that you’re worth something to someone, even if you believe the world and everyone in it is against you.

#7 Amnesty

Forgive. Forget. Move on. Let go of grudges; let go of the energy it takes to hate someone. Holding onto hate will only prevent you from moving forward. Understand that time gives you the opportunity to heal, but you must let go if you want to facilitate this process. Trust me, I held on to hate as if it were the life that ran through my veins, and it led my identity astray.

Also, fess up and seek redemption if you need to. We’re all human, we’re all learning, we’re all connected and we feel the same emotions. Make your mistakes but own up to them, if you let them fester and do nothing, they’ll develop into regrets you’ll later live with.

#8 Confidence

Say yes more! Just do it, if you’re hesitant then that’s your indication that there’s a part of you that wants to experience and explore your curiosity – this is life! However, if you’re completely certain and very confident that you don’t want to do something, then don’t do it, listen to your intuition and your gut instincts.

#9 Passion

Indulge in your hobbies and unleash your inner expert. Do things that make you feel proud of yourself; do things that make you feel accomplished. Explore those things that interest you, especially if others do not understand why. Your hobbies and your passions make you unique and they’ll keep your identity intact. Never lose sight of who you are.

#10 Mindfulness

Often associated to meditation, but I’ve learned that mindfulness is just about being completely present without judgment. I liken it to the freedom you experience behind closed doors. Tap into your creative spirit, express yourself and feel good! Get yourself into a flow state and reclaim your life; sing, dance, paint, write…you have endless ways to be mindful in your very own, individual way.

Vancouver Relationship and Life Coach