Men are notoriously ‘late to the party’. Our incessant need to be seen as strong often causes us to “white knuckle” our way through difficulties and challenges. We’ll push and push and push until the challenge becomes so great, it breaks something. That something could be our relationships, our jobs and careers, our financial situation, or ourselves.
Our cars, appliances, etc, are much easier to keep them running smoothly with regular maintenance and checkups. Same thing with us. When your car starts making a funny noise or starts performing oddly, you get it checked out. Yet when it comes to taking care of ourselves, we’ll run our bodies, minds, relationships, finances right into the ground out of the stubborn belief that either: a) nothing is wrong, or b) only we can fix it and asking for help makes us weak.
Would you continue to run your car for hundreds of miles with the ‘check engine’ light on? Then why do you do that to yourself?
When you begin to feel like something’s ‘not right’, take the time to check it out. Read up on your symptoms, look for ways to manage what you’re dealing with, talk to a trusted friend about it.
Don’t wait until you’re broken. Be proactive.
Fix You Before You Break
So, being the stubborn pains in the asses that we can be, how are us men supposed to fix ourselves without feeling like we're weak or that we've failed?
- Read Up On Your Symptoms - Google is a great place for information...and there's nothing most of us men love more than information. If you're feeling out of sorts, perhaps think you might be drinking a little more than you should, or might be depressed or anxious.... google your symptoms. Your internal check engine light has come on and reading up on how you're feeling is like putting the code reader in your car, telling you what to look at before something more critical breaks.
- Use Your Employee Assistance Program - Most employers have an EAP in their health care program. This is a program where you can call in and talk to a specialist or a counselor about what you're going through. It's typically free and anonymous.
- Make A Different Decision - When it comes to 'self medicating', make the decision to go a couple days without and see how you feel. If it's simple then there's little to worry about. If it's difficult to go without, that's an indicator of a larger problem and you may need to seek outside help.
- Get Your Checkups - Go see your doctors. Seriously. Do it at least once a year just to make sure nothing has changed, that there aren't any hidden health problems that need to be urgently addressed. We often push ourselves beyond our limits and, like cars, running hard for that long can cause things to break. Do it for you, for your spouse/partner, for your children. The world needs you in good health.
- Talk To Your Partner/Spouse - If your relationship is unhealthy, talk to them. Do so in a way that isn't accusatory, that uses "I feel _____ when you____" statements. Explain to them what you're feeling, what you're thinking, and if fixing the issues is something that both of you want to do. This is never an easy conversation, but it's one that is vital to a healthy relationship.
When your internal check engine light comes on, find out what tripped it. Fixing it could be something simple or something more complex. Yet one thing is true, ignore the light and eventually there will be a catastrophic failure.