Did you know last month was Movember?
Are you familiar with the term Movember?
It’s a movement for men’s health started in Australia in 2003. It is a way to focus more attention on mens physical and mental health issues. Men grow a moustache for the month of November as a way to draw attention to men’s issues.
I had a male friend forward me an article recently, written because it was Movember. It was focusing on men and the fact they struggle to maintain friendships as they become older.
The article stated, “According to a 2016 survey by U.K.’s Movember organization, men lack “social connectedness.” The survey found one in 10 men couldn’t recall the last time they made contact with their friends. And older men were at greater risk of social isolation. What’s more, over half of the men surveyed reported having two or less friends they would discuss “a serious topic” with. 19 % of men over 55 said they lacked a close friend — period.”
It got me thinking about the men I have coached over the past 7 years of my practice.
The more men I’ve worked with the more I’ve learned just how much they need a safe, judgement free, empathetic ear. And how hard it can be for them to find one. Hence the feeling of loneliness the article refers to.
It has become hard for men to know what is expected of them in our world today. As girlfriends or wives we want them to support us emotionally, protect us, and in some cases provide for us financially. We also want them to help with childcare, the housework, the cooking and a plethora of other responsibilities. It can be hard for a man to reach out and ask for help when he believes his partner expects him to be strong and hold it all together. Where does he turn to when he’s always supposed to be the strong one?
On the flip side if a man choses to open up and share with a buddy, that vulnerability can sometimes be met with teasing, tough talk, or disinterest. Resulting in a pulling inwards and therefore a lack of sharing. Even though there may be another person present with him, there is still a pervading feeling of loneliness.
I speak often in my writing about the need for all of us, as human beings, to feel connected to others in our lives.
I often reference researcher Brene Brown’s quote, “ We are hardwired to connect with others, it’s what gives purpose and meaning to our lives, and without it there is suffering.” As well as couples therapist Esther Perel who says, “ The quality of our relationships determines the quality of our lives,” when I speak about the value and need to connect with people to our lives. When we feel that sense of connectedness to another human the feeling of being alone in the world dissipates.
As women, we are great at having several friends throughout our lives to reach out to when things get tough. We build our support system. As a gender we are more apt to share than our male counterparts.
This is why Movember is important. There is a need to shine a light on male mental health and to help men become more self aware. Our cultural beliefs need to shift when it comes to men being able to reach out and ask for their need of mental/emotional support to be filled.
In order to have a deep friendship, and statistically many men do not, it requires vulnerability. It also requires feeling safe from ridicule, teasing and judgement to be able to share your thoughts and feelings openly. Our culture is still struggling with the male stereotype that purports a man must be tough and strong to be a man. Because of this many men still hold tightly to this belief. But it’s both men and women who help to perpetuate that stereotype.
The article about men and their lack of friendships made me want to address the merit of coaching for men. Coaching is a safe place where they can learn to be vulnerable and honest with themselves. A place to not feel judged, embarrassed or ashamed. The beauty of men working with a coach is that it will not take them years to establish a relationship. Whereas when creating a friendship there can be months of get togethers, outings or sporting events before they are able to develop a deeper relationship. To be able to share a struggle there must be a sense of safety created, only then will they test the waters and share.
Coaching is not a replacement for friendship. But it is a place you can start. To share, speak, and open up about what is going on for you and your internal struggles. Coaching provides an opportunity to work through your thoughts and concerns. It offers a supportive, empathetic, compassionate person who holds you as fully capable and whole. It can help you to not feel all alone in the world.
Coaching: It’s not just for women.
Know a man who could benefit from speaking to a coach? Share this article, you never know how you can make a difference in someone’s life.