It’s Time to Abandon the “One Rule of Men”
Huge steps have been made with men opening up about their mental health in the last few years, with the annual Time to Talk Day (in 2020, it falls on Thursday 6th February) encouraging more conversations, but there is still a long way to go. One guy who knows all about this is Connor Beaton, founder of the ManTalks movement, who has come through his own mental health battles and now draws on his experiences to support other men who are struggling. With our shared passion for helping men to be the best they can be, we spoke to Connor about his journey and how he believes any remaining stigma around male mental health can be overcome.
Why Do You Think More Men Are Now Opening Up About Mental Health?
I’d attribute it to a few things: the advances we’ve made in the neuroscience and psychology fields, and the shift away from unhealthy forms of masculinity, but we still need to break what I call the one rule of men. This rule is almost identical to the first rule of fight club, which is: you don’t talk about it.
You don’t talk about what it’s like to be a man going through a divorce, struggling with mental or physical health issues, or what it’s been like to be a man who’s lost his sense of purpose. The first step is to break the rule, or at least to question whether it truly serves you, your family, and the world around you.
What More Do You Believe Needs to be Done?
We need to put an end to the outdated idea that we’re somehow inherently weak for expressing vulnerabilities when the reality is actually the opposite.
From a neurological perspective, we know that one of the fastest ways to rewire the centres of our brain and body is to begin understanding feelings like depression and anxiety to the greatest degree we can, rather than running away from them.
As Brene Brown said “Vulnerability is the most accurate measurement of courage,” so we should strive to cultivate courage by working on and understanding our perceived vulnerabilities to find the wisdom hidden in our insecurities.
What Led You to Set Up ManTalks?
I was a classic case of having it together on the outside, but being a disaster behind the scenes. After hitting rock bottom, I spent a few years apprenticing with a mentor of mine who had learned from Carl Jung and was an expert in Jungian Psychology.
Jung believes that the shadow of the psyche serves as an emotional storage locker for all the unsavoury, unwanted parts of ourselves. But at the same time, the shadow can store much of our unrealised and unfulfilled potential.
Shadow Work can help us to make sense of this, and I’ve spent years diving into the realm of positive psychology and cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) in an effort to fully understand what causes us to sabotage, perform at our peak, and have extraordinary relationships, passing this on to thousands of other guys through ManTalks.
What Does ManTalks Provide?
We aim to provide a vehicle for self-understanding, while also supporting men to embody their core principles and values. We have a podcast that features leaders in psychology, therapy, cosmology, neuroscience, relationships, and more.
However, the main aspect of our work is done in person at the weekends where we lead a community of likeminded men who are navigating similar conflicts and obstacles in their life – men who are dealing with relationship issues, struggling to find a sense of purpose and direction, or going through some form of transition in their lives.
ManTalks provides a place for men to heal, release, sort through, break through, and find clarity on the questions they’ve had rummaging around in their shadow for years.
How Do You Believe Every Man Can Be Their Best?
I think Roosevelt said it best: “The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause.”
To me, getting in the arena means facing your personal demons. It means understanding what your battle is, what insecurity you need to work on, and what obstacle you need to overcome or heal in order to be the best version of yourself possible.