Years ago, I presented a session on Self-Care at a teachers conference. From the front, a young man, realizing that women surrounded him, said, “Where are all the guys – in denial or what?”
I wondered too. Is it only women who suffer from stress, overwhelm or lack of balance?
Of all the personal development work I’ve ever offered or been a part of, women have always made up the overwhelming majority of the population.
It so happens I love working with women. It’s just that I can’t help but wonder how the other half of the population gets by? What do men do when they’re stuck? What do they do for learning, growth and support?
Many women acknowledge that support makes a difference and seek support for lots of things, like: relationship issues, parenting, financial planning, menopause or weight loss.
It’s not that men don’t struggle with weight, for example. According to Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association, a global study in 2007 revealed that 40 percent of men and 30 percent of women are overweight.
As of July 16, 2012, Dr. Arya M. Sharma’s* blog www.drsharma.ca/childhood-obesity-is-not-driving-the-obesity-epidemic.html” states, “Indeed, the greatest increase in obesity is seen in 45-54 year old men.”
Weight Watchers website says that “Meetings work for both men and women.” Really? I’ve never heard a man admit to having been to Weight Watchers.
So, ladies, what’s up with our men folk?
As there are, not surprisingly, few men who read this blog, I can only speculate why men don’t seek support with weight loss or other personal matters.
A) They don’t believe they have a problem.
B) They don’t believe they need, or can benefit from, support.
C) They don’t want support.
D) All of the above
Of course it requires trust to be able to open yourself up to another. It is widely believed that women like to get personal and talk about their feelings more than men. Women offload stress and create bonds by sharing their personal experience. This is a healthy way of being.
While men might have difficulty getting past the vulnerability and view sharing as a sign of weakness, it’s actually a great strength to be able to trust and confide in others. In fact, people who have support during times of change fare better.
I am certainly not trying to drum up male clients, or coerce anyone to do anything they don’t want to do. In regards to coaching, that never works. But I would like to create understanding as to the depth and breadth of what women gain when they seek out support through coaching, or group training.
With the help of, well, . . . you know, . . . a few women, I’ve compiled a long list of benefits.
What women tell me they get from seeking individual or group support/training:
1. a shift in perspective that opens up opportunities to experience life differently
2. learning from someone with an expertise I want or admire
3. an opportunity to learn something ‘new’
4. accountability to advance something I want to develop, grow or eliminate
5. validation that I’m not crazy or alone
6. a way to get out of my head
7. inspiration – new ideas to carry forward
8. knowledge from a group and/or an expert leader
9. support, knowing I am not alone with my challenges
10. a challenge, opportunity to stretch boundaries
11. someone to challenge my thinking
12. the opportunity to pursue interests
13. spiritual fulfillment
14. a creative outlet
15. the ability to work through a personal issue in a safe environment
16. an opportunity to keep my brain working
17. encouragement and accountability
18. the satisfaction of intellectual curiosity and desire to learn
19. the opportunity for personal and professional relationships in shared learning
20. the ability to maintain levels of personal and professional responsibility
Perhaps men are more inclined to seek support for their golf swing, or their professional designation. I don’t know. I want men to know that it’s okay to get support for the personal/inside work also. A secret struggle is optional.
If you know someone who needs to hear this message, feel free to share it.
If you are someone who is tentative to ask for help, you can start by going just as far, and just as fast, as it feels safe for you.
The vast majority of my clients are women. As a result I tailor my message and my marketing to speak to women. But I can’t help wondering, how are those guys doing, anyway?
* Dr. Arya M. Sharma, MD/PhD, FRCPC, is Professor of Medicine & Chair in Obesity Research and Management at the University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada.