Men’s Health Week 2020: Restoring the balance and removing the mask of masculinity

All life is about balance.
It’s not a new concept as Yin and Yang in ancient Chinese philosophy is based on the interdependence and interrelation of all things allowing for a balance or equilibrium.
To restore the balance for men in general and for the individual man in particular we start by identifying what is out of balance.
It’s like a stock-take – a wellbeing audit: to change attitude or behaviour we first need to know the current position and identify the areas for improvement.
Here I consider some of the areas you might identify with and decide to approach with a new mind set which is open to change and then to change behaviour resulting in greater balance and reward.

The pressure of wearing the mask of masculinity
Here’s a unique way to look at your health and wellness as a man.
In the days of the caveman, man was expected to hunt and gather and provide. I believe the innate need to fulfil this type of role lives on. Taking on this role has adapted to an increasingly industrialised and technological world.
So we must all look for new ways that fulfil this natural instinct.
This is best done in a way that doesn’t confuse misguided macho behaviour for more positive masculine traits.

 

As the theme of men’s health awareness week is restoring the balance, let’s zone in on some areas where many of us could do with some adjustment:

  • Assertiveness is communicating clearly our needs, wants and feelings. Aggression, on the other hand, is believing and acting in way that reflects the belief that our rights are more important than the rights of others. Assertiveness trumps aggression every time.

 

  • Know your limits when it comes to banter and assertively put offenders in the knowledge of your stance. Donal Óg Cusack, former Cork hurler, mentioned a story on The Late Late Show about being in his club dressing room and hearing a throw away comment by a team mate, “Oh, that’s gay!”. He also mentioned being asked by a friend about an upcoming wedding at the time whether they should put gay people at a table together. Now, while these examples could be considered mild compared to some of what goes on and the teammate mentioned apologised, I think men in particularly need to question how will my comments be perceived and received?

 

In a featured article on my Performance Treanor website ex Dublin footballer Ger Brennan had this to stay on the subject of bullying: “I have definitely through my loose tongue probably bullied someone else unintentionally because I just take the mick a bit too much. That’s an area I probably need to become better at but there’s never any intent or malice in it. If I was ever told or sensed that I had gone too far I would always apologise and that would be the end of it. Nipped in the bud!” Click here for the full article with Ger.

 

  • Remember that wearing a stoic silent mask will probably lead to pain in the long run. The bread winner and strong silent provider mentality can also cause much harm when it comes to supressing real human emotion.

 

  • No man is an island. Showing real human emotion and vulnerability to friends, family or a professional who genuinely care will always make life easier than fighting a battle alone – no man is an island. If you feel like you need to work on dropping your mask and letting more people in then I can’t recommend this book enough.

 

Have that conversation
Some suggestions which could be beneficial for opening up are:

  1. A walk in in the countryside with a friend.
  2. A car drive with a trusted companion.
  3. A chat early in the day when your willpower and energy levels are at their highest.

Nature directs our attention outwards as does concentrating on the road while driving and this can help to drop the guard and speak more freely.
The time of day can also be important as when we have more energy, we are more checked-in to the important conversation and also have more perspective around it. We are more tired in the evening and things can feel bleaker and get unnecessarily overblown.
Here’s a consideration for building the courage for tough conversations. Ask yourself beforehand, how will I feel having had this tough conversation:

 

  1. 10-minutes from now.
  2. 10-months from now.
  3. 10-years from now.

 

This can be useful as it momentarily creates psychological distance and helps us realise that we could inadvertently be creating long term pain by over emphasizing the importance of a short-term fix or the avoidance of short term discomfort.

 

Summary
Little things matter too. Our days offer us massive opportunities to do good and be kind and we’re much more likely to take these opportunities when we feel fit and healthy.
Speaking of the little things, most of us wash our teeth out of habit: good!

This is a health seeking behaviour.
What other mini habit could you start today to feel healthier and thus be more likely to pass on positive vibes?

 

What about trying one of these:

 

  1. Put back that morning coffee until you’ve had 1-2 glasses of water first to begin the important hydration process after your longest period over 24 hours without quenching.
  2. Make the bed to experience an easy win and feel a sense of control on the day. Watch this video for some interesting thoughts on simple wins, pride and success.
  3. Cut back on perusing your social media for 30-minutes a day thus enabling you to get to bed earlier and feel more rested and rejuvenated.

 

Remember lads: it all matters. The big stuff and the little stuff. People are best remembered for how they behave, carry themselves and act towards others. These characteristics mean more than titles, successes or possessions.
Contact me at performancetreanor@gmail.com or 0032483672114 for life coaching advice (mindset, nutrition, exercise and goal realisation). Here’s the links to what’s on offer for individuals and teams (businesses, schools and sports clubs).

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