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.

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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.

Trying to Understand Depression

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“Our life experiences should invigorate our identities. We should be constantly learning new things and expanding our zones of comfort to learn more about ourselves, and what we were put on this planet to do. This is how we strengthen our minds against negativity. Most of us know when we’re in a situation or environment that isn’t right for us and restrict us from developing who we are. When we go against the feedback from our minds and physically remain in restrictive situations or environments, we stunt our human experience.”

Read the full post here

How to Master Your Own Mind: 5 Ways to Maintain Control

post by, VanCityLifeCoach.com

Mind

Over the last few weeks I took a break from writing and I spent time with family whom had visited me from England. I wanted to be present during each moment as they were only here for a short while. I didn’t want to escape a moment to experience gratitude. Life is about balance and prior to them arriving, I had spent most of my time working towards my own passions and building my career; I had severely separated from a crucial part of my identity and neglected the very support that kept me grounded. My family visiting me was an opportunity to reconnect.

The last time I had spent this much time away from my writing, was when I suffered a severe case of doubt and fed the belief that I wasn’t really good enough. The difference this time, I was in full control of my own mind, I mindfully stepped away from work because I knew what I needed to. When you become so passionate about something and push through the negative infiltrations, fear transitions from not feeling good enough, to the fear of losing what you’ve built. Spending the last few years developing my own mindset and pulling myself out of unprogressive thoughts, has taught me that I can’t live life motivated by fear. I can harness it to trigger motivation, but I cannot allow my life to be driven by it. Today I proclaim to live life awake, aware and in abundance; I’m learning to master my own mind.

#1.  Objectify your Thoughts

A habit I’ve been getting into, is evaluating and reflecting negative and destructive thought. Whenever my thoughts turn sour, whether it’s about myself or negatively towards others, I dance around it with thoughts of understanding. I’m not simply replacing negative thoughts with positive ones, as far as I’m concerned, there’s a long line separating the two. What I choose to educate myself with to interpret thought, is what keeps my mind balanced and still.

When a thought enters my mind that causes me personal conflict, I acknowledge it. I make myself fully aware that I’m experiencing some sort of disconnect with my own identity and it’s time to evaluate and reflect. I personally externalize the thought, put it on a piece of paper and begin to understand how I came to such a negative assumption. When you decode these thoughts, you begin to weaken their impact, almost like repeating a word over and over again, until it no longer sounds like a word.

We often give certain thoughts more power than others, usually the negative ones get the most attention; like how a baby gains more attention by kicking and screaming. By making yourself aware of thoughts, you begin to question them, you’ll circle around different thoughts with questions; theories and ideas, until you stumble on the truth. And you’ll know when you’ve reached this “aha” moment, because you’ll feel very much empowered.

#2. Conceptualize Perception

Nothing feels more real than entering a flow state. When working on something you’re passionate about, the world around you seems to flutter away as you engage your inner genius, as your heart, mind and body is working in full synchronicity. If you regularly engage a flow state, you’ll become increasingly aware of how blurry perception can be. This is my 123rd blog post, I’m 7 chapters into writing my first book and I have invested countless hours a day talking about what I’m passionate about. Each time I come out of a state of flow, the world around me seems that much more distorted.

I’ve learnt to conceptualize perception, for one, I don’t waste time on what people think. It’s impossible for me to know what thoughts are motivating other people’s perception of the world, without spending time to get to know and understand them first. When you’re negatively impacted by others, you’re often focused on one recurring, internal thought. You’re boomeranging your own thoughts as you convince yourself that everyone shares it.

Don’t be naïve, focus more on doing the things that engage your passions and fill your life with bliss. If at every moment you’re engaging in an activity or thought that doesn’t fulfill you, you blur your perception of reality even more. Life becomes complicated and you’ll find yourself scrambling to understand why you don’t fit in.

#3. Experience Detachment

For the longest time I’ve been trying to understand the term detachment, that I failed to practise it. It’s not letting anything have rule over your life that’ll steer you away from truth. In my opinion, detachment is more of an experience rather than a practise, it allows you to experience liberation like never before. Imagine; complete and utter freedom and no rule from thought, desire, emotion, people and even your own possessions.

I always say detachment feels the same as taking your clothes off in public, you have nothing left to hide as you strip away everything you’ve ever held onto, that kept you from exposing the most vulnerable part of who you are; your truest form. Detachment finally allows you to exist, uninterrupted nor influenced. Detachment guides you to peace of mind.

To start experiencing this today, begin to understand your relationship with everything you give meaning to, starting with your material possessions is the easiest way to begin. Evaluate your desire for these things, ask yourself why? Question the very purpose of how things define your life, not your lifestyle. The more rule you have over your life, the more rule you have over your mind. The more you latch onto things, people, desires, and thoughts and so on, you weaken your mind because you deter from what’s truly meaningful.

#4. Awaken your Imagination

Ever had a crazy thought, idea or put together an insane, out of this world theory and shrugged it off as silliness because you’d think people would think you’re insane, paranoid or just stupid? Yeah me too, but there is so much fun to be had if you just let your imagination roar. Regularly exercise your mind by freeing it from the shackles of reality, I always note down my “insanity” and store it in a folder called “Chaos”.

Your imagination is vital to unlocking your potential, eventually one of your ideas, or crumbs from several ideas will guide you to self-actualization. If you let your mind regularly do its thing, you’ll eventually stumble across something you’ll feel confident expressing.

Why compartmentalize your imagination to fit in with the current trends and ideologies when, the advances we have in the world today came from the individuals often once thought to be insane. The world isn’t flat, the earth revolves around the sun and society is finally coming to terms with the fact that, we may not be the only ones living in this universe.

Imagination leads to discovery.

#5 Open your Mind

Last but not least, be curious, because when your mind opens up, you give fear the opportunity to escape. Connect with engaging stimulus; read more books, listen to more people and accept more fact. Try new things daily and test old practises rigorously. If you want to advance your mind, you need to stimulate it with something new. Expand zones of comfort and never be afraid to understand something by asking questions.

I grew up around warped cultural traditions that caused prejudice and inequality, the moment I moved away from it, was the day I began to discover my identity and my place in the world. And never hold anyone else back either, especially if you haven’t gained the experience or exposure to conceive any genuine opinion. This is your life remember, it’s up to you to discover what it’ll be about.

VanCity

How Music Can Help Awaken Your Passion

I watched this documentary [Alive Inside] and it reminded me of a message I drafted a few weeks ago. It inspired me to post it today.

To feel and experience raw passion, to discover and then nurture it, you must first tune into emotion.

Emotions pretty much control your being, they dictate your life and how you live it. Your emotions, if you can face them, could be the very key you’re looking for to unlock your potential. Great people are emotionally invested, driven by their own desires to make an impact on the world; they’re passionate.

Music helps.

Music has a funny way of guiding you into a flow state. It activates a spirit which allows your imagination to fly free. When you play your favourite track and you’re transported to a moment, whether that moment existed or not, that moment allows you to feel.

When you feel, your heart syncs with your mind and they both work in unison to guide you closer to where you want to be in life. The aspirations you hold onto are activated and you’ll feel like every nerve ending in your body, has connected you to your destiny.

A fantasy overwhelms your reality and all you want to do is engage; this is your opportunity to be creative, innovative and inspired…and whatever else you need to feel to encourage work towards your goals.

When your emotions awake, you also shed many layers of thought that may have kept you from attaining a certain individual quality with your work.

A focus on emotion can stimulate a rare vision that normally you wouldn’t have been able to access. I think back to some of my best accomplishments, most, if not all of them we’re emotionally driven. Some moments gave me the courage to act on impulse, and others allowed me to truly understand what I really wanted for my life, allowing me to drop expectation and live life on my own terms.

This includes negative emotions too, for instance, hurt can motivate you to break negative behavioral patterns and encourage change in your life. Suffering can inspire you to change the world and anger can be channeled into productivity.

So next time you’re looking to stimulate your passions, try putting on some of your favorite music, allow yourself to be transported to a moment and let the emotions you feel ignite a flow state.

For more information on the ‘Music and Memory’ organization and ways to donate, please visit: http://musicandmemory.org/. Check out the trailer for ‘Alive Inside’ here.

Vancouver Relationship and Life Coach