Wow! It’s been nearly 4 months since my last post, and I’m sorry. This work is important. Men feeling comfortable talking about their mental health, their struggles, and having someone share their experiences in a relatable way matters.
It’s been a roller coaster for me. I’m staring down the barrel of my first spine surgery, in pain 24 hours a day because of it, preparing for my first gamma knife treatment for a tumor in my cerebellum, my mom nearly had another brain surgery, my aunt was scarily sick, my wife was in the ER, and my Father in Law had a heart attack and stent put in.
In that same time span, I did 5 subcontracts, signed 2 new contracts, attended my first ever business conference as a business owner, joined the Freemasons, became a Shriner, found out my brother is having a baby, and much more.
It’s been a roller coaster, and it’s been hard.
I’ve been ecstatic and depressed, joyful and terrified. Fluctuating between bouts of pure joy and excitement to panic attacks and curling up in bed for days at a time.
I let you down.
The reason I’m sharing all this off the bat is because of the subject of this second part of our Men and Mental Health series.
Today we’re covering self-judgment.
Self-judgment is what happens when I experience all of this, and I fall short. But, instead of accepting that fact and striving to do better, I judge the hell out of it.
I tell myself I’m a failure.
That no one will ever rely on me again.
I tell myself that no one cares what I’m going through. That regardless of my struggle I should be stronger and force myself to get work done.
These judgments and more race through my mind and these are the myths I start to tell myself.
I tell myself I’m weak. I don’t deserve anyone’s faith, and I sure as hell don’t deserve to even have the opportunity. I fail at everything I touch, and I shouldn’t even bother.
As a result of all of this self-judgment and negative self-talk, I start to believe it.
My emotions intensify even more. And because I keep telling myself I’m bad and wrong for feeling this way, I start to avoid dealing with this emotion.
Failing to deal with the emotion leads it to intensify even further, and eventually, the only thing I can work myself up to doing is laying around in bed and watching TV.
This is the result of self-judgment.
It’s not something unique to men, but the way men experience it can be unique.
We are consistently told that we need to be strong. That we can’t display any weakness or need to step back and take a break. Men are not allowed to stop and take care of themselves.
Because of this, when we reach our limit and can’t do more, we tell ourselves we’re failures, failures as people, and failures as men.
We’ve failed our wives, mothers, sisters, and society as a whole. We should be better.
That’s what it’s like to experience self-judgment as a man.
But, we are not without hope. There are plenty of skills and techniques we can use to combat self-judgment.
First, we want to check the facts. Whenever we begin to enter a spiral of self-judgment we need to stop and check the facts of our situation.
Ask ourselves: have I done enough? If I take a break to deal with this will the project come to an end? Have I completed projects like this before? Then I can do it again. Would I consider anyone else a failure if they struggled?
The answer to most of these questions is a resounding no. If the answers are no, then these judgments are not true about me and I can’t let them affect me.
Second, once we’ve checked the facts, we need to start down the road to self-validation. This is often harder than it sounds, and difficult to pull off, especially if we’ve been in a cycle of self-judgment.
But, it can be done. We have to remind ourselves of our wins. “I have written articles before, I can write them again.” “I’ve closed a client before, they loved me, I know what I’m doing.” “I clean apartments like a badass! It’s not a failure to take a break for a while.”
Practicing fact-checking and self-validation daily helps drive self-judgment out of your mind and instead of using your energy to berate yourself, you can begin to focus it on healing yourself.
If only, the singular issues men faced were Shame and Self-Judgement. Unfortunately, that’s not the case.
We’ll be back next month with part 3 of the men and mental health series, be sure to drop a follow or subscription so your the first to see it when it goes live.
Please leave any comments, thoughts, questions, issues, below. I want to hear from you.
Caleb is a Storyteller, Marketing Expert, Business Owner, Husband, and Streamer. He has a B.A in English and Creative Writing from Augustana University in South Dakota, has successfully graduated from DBT Skills group and has become a Twitch Affiliate. After being diagnosed with genetic cancer at age 10 he ventured down a path of substance abuse, depression, anxiety, PTSD, and a myriad of surgeries, that culminated in brain surgery and full mental breakdown in September of 2015. This led to his journey in self-discovery, DBT, solidifying his love for his wife, and growing into a better man and husband than he thought was possible.