In observance of Men’s Mental Health Awareness Month, Life Coach, Author, and Wellness Practitioner Savannah Rose Johnson of Eclipse Evolution, LLC deconstructs the stigma that emotions affect masculinity, thus humanizing and liberating men to explore their mental wellness.
Podcast Streaming Links, Companion Video, & Transcript Below.
Transcription (Please Excuse Any Typos/Incorrect Grammar).
Hello and welcome to the eclipse Evolution podcast. I'm your host Savannah Rose Johnson. Always a pleasure to connect with you or I should say we are connecting with you those of you who are tuning in Via YouTube and/or video platforms. I have my trusty sidekick Miguel here with me and of course that’s why I’m positioned a little weird because I dare not move him- that’s against the law. So, he’ll be joining us for who knows how long today.
But anyways I'm excited to connect with all of you on topic that is something that I just feel like there needs to be a dialogue about and it is men's mental health and men's mental Wellness. This is something that, well with it being June the month of June currently that's mental health awareness month for men, even though I'm mental health isn't really anything that's necessarily gendered and women's mental health awareness month is in March; the mental health awareness month in general is May; here we are in June specifically highlighting men.
And where again I don't believe something that's gendered, it does show up differently for men and men identifying folks so when it comes down to just some of the unique circumstances and things that show up for men and their Mental Health and Wellness is primarily just because it's so stigmatized. I don't feel like many men are talking about this, are aware, or even just accepted for mental health or emotional things just in general. And I love working with men because, and for many reasons, but one of the reasons is just because I feel like men especially have been so just ostracized for being emotional for decades if not centuries it's not something that like emotions at least have not been something that men have been allowed to show.
There's all these idioms in our language, at least American culture, that is like “be a man”, “man up”, “rub some dirt in it”, that kind of stuff. I laugh because it’s kind of absurd in some contexts, like what does it mean to “man up”? Is it to be emotionless? To be stoic? To not show any quote “weakness?”
That's a lot of times how emotions have been labeled. Emotions have been feminized in a lot of ways and kind of put in this category of weakness, of vulnerability, of something that instantly cancels out masculinity for whatever reason, and I think that's sad because emotions aren't a feminine thing; they're not something that only belong to women. I mean emotions are a human thing just bottom line. We have both analytical and emotional parts of our brain we have a whole chonk of our brain that is dedicated to emotions. And where yes sure maybe women have a little bit more of a natural tendency to be in touch with her emotions and intuition and whatnot that's historically been the case is not that men don't have access to those parts or have them at all. A lot of times the social conditioning is what hasn’t allowed men to become familiar and comfortable and become in touch with those parts of themselves cause they're there, whether we like it or not. And it's something that I feel like it just that there needs to be a paradigm shift as far as acknowledging male emotions and male mental health because the amount of suicide and depression and substance misuse and anger problems that exist in the male population are staggering, they are devastating, and so much of the reason behind why many men don't seek support and reach out for help to like get rid of their secrecy whether through counseling or coaching or medication or even just going to the doctor like just the regular old doctor. I know that that sometimes even something that men are are hesitant on and there's always that running joke of like: “men will not ask for directions so they sure as heck will ask for a therapist.” And again this is really tied into how emotions and help and quote like “vulnerability” so to speak is categorized as the feminine thing in the history at least. And that’s not true. It’s just not.
So I feel like with this paradigm shift that we're inviting with this mental health awareness month for men, it's so important for I think the first thing to be addressed is just how emotions are not masculine or feminine; they are a human thing, like emotions are human. And for are more analytically- oh, bye-bye- so he lasted about 5 minutes. So for those of us who may be more comfortable with the logical analytical Realm, kind of viewing emotions as data can be really helpful cause that's true that's kind of what they are. I mean emotions are our bodies’ way of communicating to us. They're a language, they are this information when we feel certain things in our body it doesn't have to be attached to our identity and so when it comes down to men, specifically with their mental health and emotions, so often I see men who- if they are feeling some kind of emotion or some kind of way if they one, express it, sometimes then company that's not necessarily in tune with this reality, a lot of times they'll be ridiculed and shut down or called certain names or slurs literally just because they are showing emotion, they're just showing this human thing. And where we see a lot of times something like substance misuse or even anger problems so much of that is really due to the repression factor, and you know depression as well to some extent and especially like suicidal ideation, but bottom line is when those kind of emotions are suppressed and repressed sometimes anger is the only quote “acceptable” outlet for this feelings because anchors something that scene as another gendered emotion where it's acceptable to express anger as a man in a lot of historical senses and some belief systems where anger is seen and even revered as strength or seen as soldierly or seen as ferocious; whereas a lot of times women that show anger this kind of more quote like “masculine” emotion are then labeled not as heroic and strong but as like crazy or as b***** or whatever the case may be. So it's just interesting how this connotation of these words has come to be and how the effects are really truly devastating and damaging to individuals because and those emotions are going to be here and how we approach those emotions has a lot to do with our overall life satisfaction, our overall health, cuz a lot of times when things are suppressed they don't actually go anywhere: they're internalized; that come out as anger, sometimes in ways that aren't healthy or revered, but comes out as really scary burst, or sometimes even violent burst unfortunately. And so when it comes time to anger a lot of times it's a secondary emotion it's an emotion that is safe to show but what's really behind it is a lot of pent-up sadness.
So that's why a lot of times men who are perhaps having a hard time with coping with these emotions or are not able to suppress them anymore, it can come out as irritability, can come out as these Outburst of anger, can come out as all kinds of things that can sometimes isolate them or not allow them to have relationships with others or even healthy relationship with themselves. It can be super super damaging. So with this mental health awareness month for men it's truly about accepting and acknowledging and embracing Humanity not that mental health is again something that is gendered or something that is attached to masculinity but rather it's something that every single person on this planet regardless of how they identify, experiences mental health and mental Wellness, cuz we all got to brain and so therefore we all have mental health. That’s just the fact of the matter.
So it's interesting and I love working with men just because it's so much, so much for the work starts out as just kind of normalizing emotions and letting them know that just because they may be feeling something that's unpleasant or like maybe quote “bad” or whatever the case, not an emotion they would want to feel, it doesn't have anything to do with who they are as a person. They themselves are not bad; they are not a bad person just because they feel sad; they're not any less of a man just because they feel grief or sadness or fear even. and I also love working with veterans especially because emotions are like the last priority when it comes down to I mean just being in survival mode essentially which is very much the case with those kind of professions sometimes especially if you're in a combat situation like you really do have to push down emotions and fear and all this kind of things or move through them at least in order to get the job done but then it can also make other emotions unfamiliar as well or sometimes coping with certain things just to get through a certain time, time that method of coping is no longer working or healthy if it ever was to begin with.
So I love working with veterans especially cuz a lot of times they just have really lost touch with how they are such a just amazing spectrum of a person and that goes for all men there's so much that can be missed out on when mental health and mental Wellness are not explored not just like coping and dealing with and moving through these what we maybe classifies like difficult or challenging or negative emotions, but it also means missing out on positive emotions as well cuz again if we're suppressing something it doesn't go anywhere and a lot of times that means that there's less room for the good stuff or it's just harder to allow the good stuff to come in. So it's such a worthwhile endeavor to do this emotional exploration and to separate it from Identity and from masculinity as well and I feel like men aren't really given a fair chance to start exploring these things because they're unfortunately has been a kind of uprising of this toxic masculinity masculinity label, where if these men are Maybe exhibiting mental unwellness so many people are quick to dismiss them entirely and label as “ Oh, they just have toxic masculinity” where sure, maybe perhaps there could be some elements of masculinity that's not being expressed in the healthy way, but I guarantee trace it back to the roots of maybe why those behaviors are actions are showing up, it is going to be rooted in a mental health or mental Wellness issue or imbalance of some kind because that's what happens when we are under stress, our ego takes over and I don't mean ego as far as our like being egotistical necessarily like “oh, I'm better than you”; it's our ego are defense mechanisms, are protector Parts, they are parts of our personality that maybe we need to or feel called to show, often times unconsciously because of a certain situation or perhaps a certain stress that's provoking us. So when we're feeling this ego flare up and perhaps her ego has adapted into traits that are what we would say are toxic and that toxic masculinity case supposedly that's not really who that person is often times; a lot of times that's how they have been taught to be; that's how they maybe have had to become like allowed to be; or maybe that's just didn't have any other examples; maybe it wasn't safe for them to be any other way; the list goes on.
And there's also so much in our culture that promotes this toxic masculinity or unhealthy culture and therefore normalizing it as well. And so a lot of times men just because they're so much media out there and so much stuff to consume a lot of times a lot of the messages or subliminal messages are ones that perhaps are not helping the male identity develop in a healthier balance way just because so much the maybe unhealthy stuff has become normalized, and if not, like starting to overpower some of the healthier options.
So that being said I think there's so much that is just quick to blame men for just just “being a guy” or “boys will be boys” or again all these idioms that just allow stuff to not be okay, and a lot of times guys feel like that's how they should, be maybe again that's not how they actually are, there's so much pressure and messaging around there identity as a man that says “if you want to be a man or if you are a man you do XYZ” and it's just it's not necessarily true. it doesn't really help anyone and guys if you're listening to this, I will let you in a secret: if you are interested in women, I'm going to speak for most women here, hopefully most women, I know I'm not speaking for all, but I know definitely from my perspective, that a man who is in touch with his emotions and can communicate about them and is able to self regulate his emotions and work through things and really I mean ultimately take care of himself, that is the most attractive thing that a man can have. It doesn’t necessarily what his career is or what he looks like or whatever the case may be, that is something that brings true emotional security to women.
And I know there's a lot of toxic feminine stuff going on. Maybe it's not necessarily called that but I know like women aren’t blameless, no one’s blameless, no one’s you know I think totally like- I don't know the word- but I believe that there's hope for everyone essentially. But I do acknowledge like that there are certain things that women do that also hurt other men as well.
I know a lot of my guy friends have maybe not been interested in dating because they've been hurt by women, they've been cheated on, they've been sometimes- oh sorry, there’s a fruit fly- they maybe have been exhibiting some of their own unhealthy behaviors that have contributed to the pain of this man and the man starts to exhibit new behaviors or different behaviors.
So all that being said, okay I understand this isn't just something that rest on the shoulders and men and that's why I'm talking about it because as a woman I really want men to know that they're not alone in this and that like as a female I want to support you as well I mean I don't give me wrong I love working with my ladies such a special special thing for me and cause I mean it helps me connect with my own femininity but I also acknowledge how important it is for just balance as a society to have healthy supported men as well and just unfortunately there aren't as many resources out there for men or resources that men feel comfortable with or even would like to take that step because this kind of conversation has not happened enough yet for men to know that it's okay, that what they're feeling is super normal, and again it doesn't matter that they're dude, does not matter is below the belt whatsoever it's the fact that we're a human and that emotions are human thing so that being said I really hope that men can see the amount of Courage it truly takes in being vulnerable in exploring themselves cuz that is no small feat it really isn't; it takes that immense amount of courage to look at ourselves honestly and to say hey this is something that maybe don't like or maybe this is something that I need help on or help with, and and then to take that a step further into actually reach out and ask for help that is vulnerable for anyone, shoot, like I I hated shopping I say “shopping” ha- but I hated searching for a therapist when I was looking for one cuz it's like it's vulnerable to be like “okay I don't know this person I'm going to you know tell them that I need help, I don’t know it they’ll respond,” or whatever the case may be. I get that. Absolutely.
At the same time like whatever fear you might be feeling in that process does not deserve to have power over you receiving what it is that you need in order to be okay that's going to allow you to be more successful in your career, more successful in romantic relationships, friendships, family, ultimately in that relationship with yourself and it's just very very much worth the investment and it goes such a long way absolutely and when it comes down to exploring those parts of yourself, you're therefor becoming a more complete person, not just a more complete man, but you're becoming a more complete person cuz you're able to accept all the different parts of yourself the full spectrum of what makes you a human and that deserves to be recognized and honored and again it doesn't have anything to do with your masculinity but it can certainly help you express your masculinity even better and in an even more healthy authentic way and have that true confidence that is so attractive to everyone everyone.
So I really hope that's giving you some fresh perspective on men's mental health and I know most of my audience is women so this might not necessarily apply to you but please feel free to share with your brothers, your partners, your dads, your uncles, your friends, whoever you feel like deserve or or need to hear this message and just know that it's okay to reach out to explore these resources I don't feel like talking to someone yet that's totally fine they can listen to a podcast like, this they can read books: it's just about exploring. and the courage that it takes to explore is something that I feel like men really do a phenomenal job with.
And I know like with my own fiance, his mental health Journey has been something that I have grown to immensely respect him on, just more and more; the more he dives into working on himself and taking care of himself, the more I just admire him and find it incredibly attractive, and I'm inspired by, because as a female it helps me to know that he's okay and that I mean of course I love taking care of him and the ways that I do, but knowing that he is not a volatile person or someone who's unwell but rather he can give me the sense of stability and strength that I love that contrast from my own and it therefore gives me my own sense of softness and strength and we balance each other out so well; he really allows me to live in my own just femininity in a lot of ways. and I say allow not that he like gives me permission ha, but but it's more so as he is really embracing his healthy masculine Essence and also embracing his humanness, it really allows me to do the same in some ways, it really encourages me to do the same and I just appreciate that about our Dynamic we both really value taking care of ourselves and it just allows us to come together as two already complete people who can just be even better together, so there's there's just so many Ripple effects when it comes down to taking care of yourself regardless of again however you identified gender-wise but I definitely feel like men they really deserve to just get to know themselves a little bit more.
And this is maybe a little funny side note, but I love, well in our household, my fiancé and I, we watch Lord of the Rings often, like that is like one of our favorite series. and the more I watch it, and of course The Hobbit as well, but the more I watch it I just really really admire the depiction and portrayal of the male characters in that show- er show pppft - movie excuse me, because I love how they're just so healthy in their masculine at least the more heroic ones not Sauron and everybody, like the Orcs and stuff, but when I think of like Gandalf, Aragorn, Sam, you know all these characters, they’re so loyal to their partners, so respectful of women and value their contributions, and they're so affectionate to each other like I remember in like Fellowship where Bilbo is really struggling with the power of the ring and he like accuses Gandalf of like having like tricks and and the cheap tricks and stuff and and Gandalf, like he's upset with him he's like hey I don't accuse me of someone who's doing cheap tricks and you know magic, I’m a wizard my friend, so he shows his anger because he was hurt, but then he softens down and he's like I'm not trying to harm you I'm trying to help you and I love that softness and then Bilbo is so cute like he’s so sweet like he's has this kind of has almost this child like just little whimper and he just comes in for a hug cuz he didn't even have to say anything he just really sees the the affection and the protectiveness that can also showing him he just comes in for a hug and and it's just so wholesome and whole series is so wholesome but again I just I feel like that's a great place to start it if you're looking for maybe some different media to explore and that's why I don't really and I might offend some people with this statement, but that's why I just cannot get into Game of Thrones. I have tried but I just can't do it because there's such an unhealthy depiction of masculinity with so many characters and just sometimes the comments that are made about women and just sometimes the ways that they act and treat each other and and women and stuff it's just I can't handle it it's just not for me where I know there's lots of wonderful things about that show in the storyline, it's just I'm very much more a Lord of the Rings person like I I really love that wholesomeness so I recommend that being a good place to start and just that kind of be aware of what messages are you receiving from the content that you consume and is that helping you expand this perception of you're manly hood and your emotions and your mental health or is it compressing, it is a condensing, it is it bringing about shame, is it bringing about sadness or anger, and just exploring that and seeing what you need to do for yourself and that whatever you need to do for yourself to release and feel better that it deserves to be something that is healthy and is something that is sustainable because ultimately like again these emotions are just a part of being a human and if we suppress our emotions it can lead to a lot of other health problems like ulcers or just aches and pains and all kinds of stuff so definitely definitely take care of yourself inside and out.
And if you have any questions or if I can be a resource to you please please reach out. so again I I thank you for my my female audience to our for listening to this if you tuned into this episode and thank you for my males especially for taking the time to explore with me today and for giving yourself this time and space to learn about yourself that's ultimately all it is, we're just learning about who we are and that's a worthwhile Adventure. so thank you so much for tuning in, it was a pleasure exploring this with you today and I look forward to the next time we get together so take care and bye for now.