As a bloke, it’s not natural to be vulnerable. We’ve all heard the narrative – we need to be stoic, masculine, independent, at times angry, but never sad.
There’s a long list of reasons why this is too often the case. Parts of nature and parts of nurture have forced men into feeling guilty and uncomfortable to show weakness and to ask for help.
The internal struggle that accompanies these emotions of sadness, weakness, hopelessness is one that exacerbates the issue and throws us into a vicious cycle – we feel guilty and punish ourselves for feeling these emotions internally and proceed to feel worse again.
We then pass these learned behaviours onto those around us by rocking up to work, sport, social groups, family events, pubs etc. and when asked how we are, respond with something along the lines of “yeah all good!”, “good mate, yourself?”, “living the dream” or another generic response which is the polar opposite of how we feel. It then implies to others that they must follow suit and portray they are “all good.”
We Must Buck The Trend
I truly believe we need to give those around us permission to be vulnerable. We need to create an environment of comfort and safety and show them that they will not be judged.
How Do We Truly Give Permission For Others To Be Vulnerable?
We have to be vulnerable ourselves. In doing so, we empower others. We show them that they are in a safe space to be emotional and honest. We develop a deeper sense of trust and show them that we are comfortable and confident in having an emotional conversation. We show them we’re all human. We show them that we care.
Breaking the ice with vulnerability will cause the people around us to follow suit if and when they need to. They will know that you are someone who is willing and able to support them through their emotions no matter what they are experiencing.
Having gone through my own challenges, I have witnessed the impact of telling my story. Not for my own gain, but to empower those around me. As a young bloke, coming from a sporting environment, going to parties, climbing corporate ladders, it’s not normal to show vulnerability, to ask for help. The phenomenon I have witnessed is a LARGE number of my mates calling me for coffee, beers, catch-ups to chat. It almost always 1 on 1 and we always get chatting about things that go deeper than men normally do. I’ve given them permission to be vulnerable around me.
I challenge you to go out and break the ice. Go and share your vulnerabilities. Tell other people around you that you have struggled, or are currently. Tell them if you’ve sought help from people around you or seen a mental health clinician. Normalise these conversations and give the people around you permission to follow suit.