Man to Man: How to heal the modern man by the founder of The Time To Talk Project

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When discussing healing with my clients, I begin every conversation with a simple yet often overlooked idea, especially for men: healing, no matter what we are told, is not to be done alone

Emotional loneliness is one of the biggest challenges facing men and modern masculinity today. According to The Roots of Loneliness Project, loneliness is defined as “the discrepancy between the level of social interaction one has versus the amount one desires.”

This is one reason my book, Time To Talkfocuses on helping people – men in particular – who are feeling a little bit lost. The book centers around the persistent myths that plague modern masculinity and looks at what it really means to be a man today.

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Habits often hold us back, keeping us stuck in cycles of behaviour

Much of it is based on the first-hand experience I’ve gained as a cognitive hypnotherapist, where I speak to men about healing and breaking unhealthy, sometimes harmful, patterns of behavior to better support their mental health and minimize loneliness.

These cycles hold us back and keep us stuck. They don’t discriminate, affecting every class, race, gender, sexuality and more. Men’s mental health is particularly challenged by living up to certain standards of masculinity (strength, power, emotional stoicism and success) and then developing unhealthy coping mechanisms or habits when they feel they fall short, such as gambling, alcoholism, drugs and even suicide, at its very worst conclusion.

The focus of my hypnosis-psychotherapy sessions is to help people break these unhealthy practices and reconnect with life.

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I went through a huge transition

But, before I go further: how did I get here? Well, in 2014, I graduated from university with a degree in French and Spanish. In that year, I went through a huge transition: the move from college to the real world. Naturally, I chose to avoid that for as long as possible and teach abroad on the Indian Ocean island of Reunion, where they have a passionate love of sport and curried swordfish.

On my return back home in October 2015, I began working for a national newspaper. These were my loneliest years. I’d just come back from traveling, had no friends and had to start all over again. I was living at home with my parents and didn’t feel like an independent adult. On top of that, the job was stressful; I was overworked and underpaid. I didn’t like who I was becoming, because I believed I had to be this aggressive, determined and belligerent lone wolf to be successful.

My mood became low. I drank a lot, ate poorly and slept very little. I wasn’t looking after my physical or mental health. This led to me having three mental breakdowns at work and compromising my immune system, leading to early onset rheumatoid arthritis from the stress. 

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I believed I had to be aggressive to be successful

I eventually left the job in 2020 and began training as a health coach, later embarking on therapeutic training. Now, when I work with clients, we focus on trying to understand what is keeping them stuck. To do this, I work through five key building blocks – beliefs, responsibility, intention, commitment and kindness – to help heal the modern man. 

First up, beliefs. We all bring a series of beliefs to the table. They come from somewhere, but in order for us to get to the heart of connection, we need to address what they are. Beliefs are the things we hold onto as a way of living, typically given to us from our environment (family, school, work, culture and religion).

As men, what do we believe about ourselves that is holding us back? It may be that you believe you are weak if you show emotion. Once we get clear on what our beliefs are, we can be open to understanding other people’s views and find our own value.

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I work through five key building blocks

Next, responsibility. We have to take responsibility for changing those beliefs and doing the hard work to unblock ourselves. Responsibility is taking ownership over the way we live our lives and understanding when we need to walk away or lean in. We need to take responsibility for the beliefs we hold.

The third step is to set an intention. This means being deliberate in your actions. You have to want to build yourself to be better. When we have the intention, we set ourselves on course for emotional freedom.

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We have to take responsibility for changing those beliefs

The fourth building block is commitment. Life is set around commitments. From wedding vows to phone contracts, we live by making promises to others. But what about making these promises to ourselves? In order for this all to work, our commitment has to change.

Finally, kindness. The thing that underpins the building blocks is kindness. Kindness to others but, more importantly, to ourselves. Men can be hard on themselves. Treating our own heart like someone we love and are fond of will go a long way towards mending the challenging road men find themselves treading.

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Working through these processes will help liberate us

Working through these processes will help liberate us – the modern man – from ‘our stuff’. The stuff that has held us back, kept us suppressed and at the lowest form of freedom, love and connection for too long. Without doing so, we keep ourselves locked in disconnection, loneliness and lovelessness. 

As men, we need to address what we believe about ourselves, others and the world as a first step to understanding how to move forward. Remembering, always, that we are not alone.

Man to Man is a new SOLO series exploring male friendship and modern masculinity, delivered by different voices, including Time to Talk author and podcast host, Alex Holmes

Flash Pack is on a mission to make 1 million friendships through shared group travel. Few groups need those connections more than men in their 30s and 40s. Find your pack today.

Images: ©Andy Commons Images, ©Welbeck Balance Publishing & Harris1Shot Photography

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