The narrative for young men growing up has been so clear- an unabashed sense of the need to be strong and unpenetrable. As far away from being perceived as weak as is possible. This is the narrative I also grew up with, and it is reinforced so often by not just parents but also peer relations and the social constructs that surround us in each and every moment. I point this out because this narrative has led to the community expectations that we battle with today: If you are a man, you should show no weakness, talking about your feelings is weak- don’t do it.
This narrative does nothing but propagates the idea that if we do have feelings or emotions, we need to hide them for fear of being found out and excluded or othered. This is something that contributes to the stigmatization of mental illness. One of our main goals at The MindReset is to help de-stigmatize mental illness and help individuals know there is a place that is welcoming and will support them even if they are not strong or brave enough to find a voice to open up.
Something really great has happened in the last couple of weeks in the sports world- typically a place that exemplifies the hyper-masculine narrative. Multiple high profile NBA players and all-stars, Demar DeRozan and Kevin Love, both came out about their own mental health struggles. This is so very important to help de-stigmatize mental health as they have very large platforms and also contradict the stereotypical narrative of an athlete. It was not easy for them, just like it is not easy for others who live with mental illness.
A really important aspect of mental illness is that for some, they may be completely blind to it. Part of the reason for this could be that they may not have been taught or ever learned how to be reflective and more aware of themselves. Someone might know something is off, but not know what it is and if they are in an environment that discourages talking about feelings and emotions, they are likely not going to seek support or answers.
“I realized how many issues come from places that you may not realize until you really look into them. I think it’s easy to assume we know ourselves, but once you peel back the layers it’s amazing how much there is to still discover.” – Kevin Love
This gets to the point of being mindful and really trying to understand yourself. The big picture here though is that peeling back these layers is something that you may need help with. This is why it is so important to build communities that are welcoming and understanding- communities which are inclusive.
The MindReset is a place where we want to open those conversations and work towards rethinking the way we live by creating more supportive, inclusive, compassionate, and kind communities.
I’ll leave you with a quote that speaks to me on so many levels and hopefully does the same for you:
“We need to give each other the space to grow, to be ourselves, to exercise our diversity. We need to give each other space so that we may both give and receive such beautiful things as ideas, openness, dignity, joy, healing, and inclusion.”
— Max de Pree