wellness — By rhone community captain cameron ahouse
Emotions? Feelings? Vulnerability? HA! I’m a man, a tough man, and I can’t show any of that because it will make me look weak. I don’t cry, I don’t say I love you, and a therapist is completely out of the question. I play sports and if I get hurt I rub dirt in it and keep on moving forward.
Sound like anyone you know?
This was my mindset for the first 31 years of my life and is still a mindset that I struggle with on a daily basis.
It’s funny how life plays out sometimes. I grew up idolizing the tough athlete, the suped up movie star, and I thought that I needed to be that when I grew up. I lost my mom when I was 15 and there is no doubt that that had an enormous impact on me. I now realize that I went from being a happy outgoing kid to much more closed off because I felt that no one understood what I was going through, so why even bother to share how I felt? This stayed with me for the next 15 years of my life and slowly that emotional wall I put up and reinforced felt like it was collapsing on me and suffocating on me.
How did I begin to chip away at that emotional wall? It wasn’t a self help book. It wasn’t a podcast or TedTalk that did it. It was October 2019 when I was introduced to Guy Talk Co. and the incredible community of men where I learned that being vulnerable is a super power and isn’t something to be ashamed of. It was the first step that I saw myself taking to allow myself to open up to others and feel accepted for it.
What have I done and learned about myself over the last year and a half:
- Having an emotional wall prevents you from building real relationships with people. I learned this the hard way through failed relationships.
- Explain my thought process. I tend to get quiet when I am thinking which can look like I am not paying attention or lack interest. It’s the exact opposite. I am afraid of saying the wrong thing and turning someone off so I pause to collect my thoughts. So now, when I realize that I am quiet I tell the person why I am quiet so they understand.
- No one is going to judge you if you cry and those that care about you will lend a shoulder.
- I still get nervous showing my true colors and sharing how I feel but every time I do I feel like a little weight has been taken off my shoulders.
- Sharing what I am afraid of, yes sharks are high on that list, but so is my fear of failure, my fear of not being liked by others, and fear of letting others down.
- Talking to a therapist or trusted friend is AMAZING!!! I was hesitant about it for the longest time and then one day I made an appointment and was able to share what I felt comfortable sharing. There was no agenda, no judgement, no trying to figure out what was wrong with me. It was a time for me to share what I wanted. It could be a fun event I attended or questioning why I reacted to a situation a certain way.
- Journaling has been tremendously helpful. I use the Mind Journal which provides helpful prompts, as well as, a list of emotions that you mark off to describe how you are feeling and a line for you to write down your own happy hour. It can be whatever you would like and it’s a great reminder that you need to take some time for yourself everyday.
- Every morning before I check emails, texts or Instagram I do 3 rounds of Wim Hof breathing. It’s a good way for me to start the morning slow and make time to check in with myself.
- It’s okay to ask for help. It really is. It’s not a sign of weakness. It’s the exact opposite.
- I’m not perfect and never will be. I’m not supposed to be because I’m human.
As men, we believe that society has these expectations for us to be tough and not show emotion, but this isn’t true. We have the opportunity to set new standards for men. I’m still struggling with this and I’m sure there are plenty of men out there who are as well and that’s okay. Breaking through the emotional wall some of us have put up won’t happen overnight and it won’t happen in a year and that’s okay because like fitness or learning a new trade, it’s the journey that needs to be celebrated. So, take one small step at a time and if you continue to do this then I promise that you’ll be proud of the man you have become and will continue to become.