On the occasion of International Men’s Day, here are some thoughts that I would like to share with you, not just a woman but as a mental health caregiver who wishes you to take better care of your mental health and psychological wellbeing:
- You don’t have to act or feel ‘strong’ all the time, no, you seriously don’t have to. I am sorry that cultural narratives and social conditioning might have given you completely broken messages around how you ‘are supposed to feel’ and how you ‘should be’. Remember there are no male and female emotions! Take time to notice all your emotions and feel all your feelings.
- Across different cultures of the world, there is immense stigma around mental health and more specifically around men’s mental health. Do not self-stigmatize your own emotional experiences. The human mind is gender non-confirming by it’s default nature, social and cultural conditioning is what gives gender labels to your emotional experiences. Feel free to reach out for help whenever you want.
- Take baby steps, if not big radical steps, towards normalizing conversations around mental health amongst your social circles across all gender identities, and especially amongst your own male friend circles. Take time to increase your awareness of your ‘inner lives’ and nurture it. One little action of vulnerability from your end might open discussions for someone you might have had no idea was ‘struggling’ around with their inner lives.
- Seeking help or having a therapist is as simple as having a dentist. Sometimes you go for an aching tooth, sometimes a root canal or sometimes for a general check up. Skills for working on our emotional hygiene and or coping with trauma are essential to our experience of living with a ‘human mind’.
- Gender biases hurt your kind as much as it hurts mine. Living with the constant pressures of ‘acting strong by hiding your emotional distress and/or living with the expectations of being the provider (depending on the cultural context you come from)’ can be extremely emotionally disempowering an experience. So whether you wish to be a happier employee, a more engaging friend/son/lover/dad, recognize your own emotional storms, articulate them well, seek help as and when necessary and allow yourself to do the ‘self work’, thereby allowing yourself to experience joy, love and true belonging.
Remember, to live with a human mind is not necessarily an exciting experience, irrespective of the gender you choose to identify yourself with or the physical form you were born into. Seeking help is a sign of strength, not an act of cowardice and should have absolutely nothing to do with gender identities.