Updated: Jan 15, 2021
So, you know the back story of Empath to Empath. It was developed in lockdown with a view to starting a group to send out positive vibes to all. Empath For Men came out of something very different. EFM was inspired by some of the male friends in my life.
I have always had this crazy connection with males, much to my husbands chagrin. I think it is because I was raised with boys, act like a boy and know more about cars and sport than most guys haha. I was always in their presence as a kid. On the train tracks, with my dad at football, in the pubs waiting some type of sport to come on the tv. I blame my dad for me being such a tom boy, he actually treated me like a lad. I can defend myself put it that way, even being 5ft 4in.
My dad is fab, and I wouldn't change how he treated me, because I love everything boys do and some of my best friends in the world are men. They talk to me like a lad and I have to stop them sometimes as it is just too much information. I'd like to add I'm all girl though, can just do an oil change, and kick a ball like any lad!
Without going into individual stories (just out of respect) I started to notice some real signs of anxiety and depression this year with a couple of friends. Guys who were once fun-loving and care free, were down in dumps, and this bothered me. I also had tough discussions with a friend who had suffered psychological abuse at the hands of his partner. Being in a friendship with someone going through this is extremely difficult. And to be honest, I had seen it coming a long time ago. It was subtle and he never saw it as he was completely and utterly head over heals in love.
It all came to a head this year, when he ended up being severely depressed and showing major signs of alcohol abuse. This is when friends intervened and told him the truth about the subtle things we had been seeing for years. The story ends well, as he is now away and doing ok, but this inspired me to help other men who maybe feeling certain emotions they feel they can't talk about.
Empath For Men is a great group in its eighth week. It was developed to help offer support and encourage a safe space for guys to connect with others and talk about tough issues they are not able to talk about with people close to them. I believe it is time that men felt comfortable with expressing their emotions, but believe this will not happen overnight, it takes patience and small steps.
The group so far has been successful in terms of connecting with people and just getting to know them. It's a beautiful community and I'm attached to many within the group.
The biggest subjects that men struggle to communicate.
We are all human, so why would it be so strange when a man shares his emotions? It is astounding that in 2020, men still feel that they can't express their emotions and have them received in the correct way. This is a stigma that is so dangerous to mental health problems which are on the rise each year. It should be ok for guys to express, cry and talk about their feelings openly. It is so important that awareness is raised. We should be filtering these messages in schools and to our own children, that it's ok to cry, it is ok to be sad. The whole 'man up' phrase should be left in the last century where it belongs.
If you feel you can't cry, the trigger is talking about painful experiences, unlocking the emotion and expressing it to someone you trust. Ripping the plaster is a must.
Talking to a mental health expert / clinician - for more complex issues is recommended and could help you unlock these emotions.
2. Toxic relationships
Guys tend to hide their experiences as there is a feeling of weakness. You find that they keep these feelings to themselves, often to protect their image and partner. This is pointless and things will never change if you do this, for you are not fixing the problem, you are only applying a plaster. From my experience the guys I have encountered are victims of emotional and psychological abuse and they either see it but have no confidence to deal with it and talk about it, or they don't see it at all.
This is very frustrating if you are a family member or friend who sees what is happening clearly. Someone who is controlling and isolates you is known as a narcissist. This type of behaviour is unacceptable and it is important that you understand that it is not ok to have to put up with such behaviour. You are not a remote control, you are not here to be controlled. Here is a list of red flags you need to look out for - if you think this is you, take action.
Controlling behaviours - going through your phone, isolating you from your support system (friends and family).
Having nothing nice to say about your support system - often done in private, away from the support system's ears. To them, they are very nice and lovely but it's a facade! Don't allow anyone to attack people who have shown you nothing but love!
Making everything about them - a conversation about you and your feelings lasts 2 minutes but is quickly diverted to them.
Insults / undermining - even if done as a joke, it is NOT a joke, it is cruel and mean. When you are told something enough, you will start to believe it as hey, you have ditched your friends and family who would tell you you're talking poop and actually you maybe not at fault! This is a big sign! Psychological abuse at its finest.
Constant threats of leaving, divorce or separation from children - this is cruel, most guys clam up and deal with this behaviour, simply for the children. It's a hard one and understandable as 9 times out of 10 the children stay with the mother. However, you cannot be controlled, your children are not pawns. What are you teaching your children if you put up with toxicity? They believe and grow up thinking it is normal. You have to look at it this way, do you protect your partners feelings or the children? Don't ever think allowing them to witness toxic behaviour is ok, it isn't. Please don't kid yourself here. I appreciate the struggle but open your eyes.
Threats of the law - very toxic behaviour, and anything that could get you into hot water with the law, you must open up to someone. To even threaten is a problem.
Infidelity - I slept with this person because you......no love, no-one made you do that. You chose to do that. Another person's decision do be unfaithful is not your doing, when you cop the blame this is even more toxic.
This stems from years of being told to 'man up', 'don't be a wuss', 'crying is for girls'....this is old fashioned, it is last century and not true. Men are humans, it is ridiculous to tell a man not to have a natural reaction such as cry. Due to this conditioning men from many generations believe that it is weak to cry. Guys, it isn't. Please understand that you are human. EFM is created to help with this conditioning. You need to start with small steps and share step by step with people you trust. This type of thinking needs to be eradicated and stamped out so the next generation doesn't grow up with the same though process.
4. Expressing Love
Some guys have issues with showing love, even if in their heads they love unconditionally. If you don't show love how can it be felt by the other party. Again, this is generations of being told 'not to show emotion', 'stop crying'. Before you know it, you have no idea how to show physical ways to express love. Hugs are beneficial and boost endorphins in the brain, a good hug can show someone true emotion. Touches to the face and hands, kisses, all physical ways to show affection. Affection is a clear cut sign that someone cares for you. Those who are not in touch with affection have missed out terribly.
'I love you' is a phrase that some guys struggle to say, because for some, they haven't heard it themselves. Even if you have not heard the three magic words, you now know that it's ok to express them. Now you know to break the pattern and work on showing love. Again, identify someone to talk to. Someone you trust and can confide in.
Finances can cause immense stress to men, this is due to the desire to be a provider. This can be an added pressure in the current climate. Guys can sometimes not disclose that they are feeling the pinch for fear of losing face or social status or respect from partner. Times are rough, and not talking about things like finances can spiral out of control if you do not address it. Ensure that you discuss money issues with your local citizens advice bureau or similar services if you need support. It is not weak to ask for help, not asking will make the situation so much worse.
Often, confidence is a major issue for men. It could be due to all the above and other factors such as body image. Here are some ways to boost your confidence and get to a happier you.
Self love - the first thing to do is learn to accept yourself and love who you are. Do things you enjoy such as gym, running, reading, yoga, long showers or baths or volunteer. Change your wardrobe, change your hair. Boost your confidence by trying something new.
Talk to someone you trust - please ensure you identify someone who is in your corner. We all have that 'ride or die' friend who has your back, reach out and bite the bullet. Talk about whatever is bothering you. Once you take the plunge, you will feel better - if you confide in the right person. Remember EFM are always available.
Go back to childhood and be damn silly - a friend and I were complete knobs in lockdown, we watched Tiger King and ended up actually doing some craziness that made that month the funniest ever.... videos and acting....it was stupid. Laugh guys, find that person who you can just be stupid with, get those endorphins moving.
Read - there are many resources out there to help boost your confidence and get you started on the self love journey. Get on Amazon, order a self help book, read a blog, watch YouTube videos, join EFM. Get some knowledge on how to boost your confidence.
Meditate - here you will find clarity, here no-one or nothing can disturb your inner peace. Follow guided meditations, give yourself some time each day, have a ritual, burn an incense stick and have time with some music to zone out. On the E2E Instagram and Facebook page we recommend a variety of meditation music to relax too. YouTube is also a great resource.
Get or increase your hobby - this is something you enjoy just for you. Do something that only requires your time. Guys, you take care of business and support those around you. Take time and have something that is solely yours.
The benefits of talking to a positive person.
These people give you no reason to distrust them, they are your friends, family who have shown you that you can be completely yourself with them. The support groups out there including E2E and EFM are constantly pushing the message that you are worth it. These positive people are rooting for you, and we all want to see a change with society and its view. These people in your life want to see transparency, emotion and a human, not a robot. It is not your fault if you fall into this category but it is conditioning. The beauty of it is that in 2020, awareness needs to be raised and people are urging others to speak out.
Having good advocates in your life will boost you, free your mind and allow you to look in the mirror and tell yourself, I am ok, I am worthy. You are valuable and required and we want you to be the happiest you can be.
Change the mindset guys, start loving yourselves. Positive vibes bring so much to your life.
I hope this blog has helped someone, if nothing else, just to know that someone sees you. You are in a new era. Let's break the stigma. When you know better you do better. Go grab a mate and talk!
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