Before beginning your journey into mental health and recovery, it’s important to understand that everyone has two voices in their heads: The Healthy Voice and The Unhealthy Voice. Your healthy voice is the one that acknowledges when there’s an issue and encourages you to do something about it. Your unhealthy voice is the one that also acknowledges when there’s an issue but convinces you that you can’t do anything about it or minimizes the impact of whatever is at hand. Your unhealthy voice knows exactly what to say to you in order to deprive yourself from getting better. For most men, the unhealthy voice in their heads is one placed on them by society whilst growing up. That voice may say things like: “Boys don’t cry” “Don’t be such a wimp” “You’re being so sensitive” “Man Up” “Don’t be so emotional” “Get over it” Do these phrases sound familiar at all? Whether you’ve heard phrases like this externally or internally, they have damaging repercussions resulting in men feeling like they’re not allowed to break this “tough man” bravado. They have to fulfil the traditional masculine role and being “masculine” means not showing any form of emotion that could make you look weak – right? Wrong.
I can’t pinpoint the moment in history where we collectively decided as a society to deny men the right to show any signs of vulnerability, but I do know when we need to stop this destructive form of thinking – and that’s now. Together, we can redefine what it means to be a “man” one word at a time, beginning with: VULNERABILITY You may be dreading the idea of becoming vulnerable; I understand being vulnerable is easier said than done. Asking someone to take down a guard that they’ve created and maintained for a majority, if not all, of their lives, is not an easy feat. But think about it like this: As we grow up and mature, we create our own castles for us to retreat to when we feel vulnerable. Every time we’ve felt exposed, we upgrade our defenses. Building big heavy wooden doors that can’t be knocked down. Add barred windows so no one can sneak in. Maybe even add a moat and draw bridge just to make it that much harder to infiltrate.
This is our safe space. We’re protected. No one is getting in. However, when you isolate yourself in such a manner, how long does it take until that castle starts feeling like a prison? Each brick in the walls you created to protect yourself become the stigma that comes with men and mental health; stopping you from getting help when you need it. The definition of the word “Vulnerable” suggest that you’re at risk of getting hurt, and to be honest, there will be times where you make yourself vulnerable and get hurt. Pain is an inevitable part of life, but suffering is not. Heart of a Man’s purpose is to provide a space and opportunity for men to be vulnerable. There’s no risk of getting hurt because you’ll become part of a community of men who are in the same boat as you. A community of men who have been denied the permission to experience vulnerability and have decided that enough is enough. Heart of a Man is redefining what it means to be ‘Vulnerable’: Being ‘Vulnerable’ means you are self-aware enough to know that you need help. Being ‘Vulnerable’ means you are strong enough to go to others and ask for help. Being ‘Vulnerable’ means you are allowing yourself your basic human right to feel. “Being honest to how we feel, does not make us weak; it makes us human” –
Sangu Delle (“There’s no shame in taking care of your mental health”)