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Men’s Mental Health

Dr. Brian Roet is an Australian who moved to the U.K forty years ago.  He has had an unusual journey through life; from a professional footballer to an anaesthetist, to a general practitioner and to a psychotherapist, using hypnosis as his main therapy for the last fifty years.

Brian has learnt a great deal about the unconscious mind and how it can cause problems. He uses techniques of talking to the unconscious to help clients resolve those problems and has written several books and presents seminars and workshops to therapists about Parts Therapy.

13th to 19th June 2021 is Men’s Mental Health Week and so to help us focus on this topic, Brian has written this useful article.

MEN’S MENTAL HEALTH

My understanding is that mental health implies helping our minds become healthier. Healthier means being of more help to us, functioning in a way that enables us to achieve and enjoy rather than fail and be troubled.

In order to help our mind be healthier it is useful to be aware of how the mind works and its influence on our wellbeing.

The Mind’s Processes

I will write about a few of the mind’s processes I have learned during the many years of being a psychotherapist.

A great number of different processes are occurring at all times. I will write about only a few.

There is a constant connection in the mind consisting of

a Thoughts

b Feelings

c Pictures

d Words

The aim of these messages is to be

1 Accurate

2 Up to date

3 Helpful

For many people these messages are not accurate, are out of date and unhelpful, hence difficulties arise that influence their attitude, emotions and behaviour.

Being aware of what is happening in the mind and body is the first step towards making changes to how you feel and behave.

Much of the mind has been influenced by past experiences, relationships, achievements and failures. The mind is a hoarder of past experiences that have caused unhappiness, fear, pain, guilt and many other threatening experiences.

The Subconscious Mind Wants to Protect Us

Its aim is TO PROTECT you and it stores up experiences, feelings and outcomes to protect you from the same situation occurring again.

I have talked with the subconscious mind with most of my patients.  I have asked why the patient is feeling the way they are feeling (panicky, anxious, frightened, sad) and it always replies I AM TRYING TO PROTECT THEM.

It thinks they are 10 years old when their parents divorced (or any other traumatic experience), when in fact they are 50.

The Benefits of Quiet Time

Phil Mickelson is an American professional golfer. With his win at the 2021 PGA Championship, Mickelson became the oldest major championship winner in history at the age of 50, stating the main reason he won was that he had been meditating on a number of days before the game.

In order to learn more about the mind and benefit from the learning, is to have QUIET TIME. Most people wake up, stay active for the whole day and go to sleep at night.

An American psychologist found that the normal way the mind works is to be active for 90 minutes and relaxed for 20 minutes throughout the day. His name was Ernest Rossi and he wrote a book called the Twenty Minute Break.

One 20-minute break a day

As it is not feasible have 20-minute breaks throughout the day, my suggestion is that you have one 20-minute break where you sit or lie comfortably and do nothing.

Allow your mind to go where it wishes to; don’t try, be passive. It will take you to different places and in time will allow you to learn about yourself and ways to let go of unwanted influences.

Some people write a journal – not thinking about what they are writing, allowing the biro to write without the mind directing it. Others follow the guidance of Mindfulness.

The main component is NOT TO TRY, as by that that takes you back from the subconscious to the conscious mind.

THE WORDS WE TELL OURSELVES

Many people use words that are self-critical when talking about their behaviour; “I am a fool”, “I am hopeless”, “I never get anything right” etc.  These words we tell ourselves go to our subconscious mind and cause it to lose confidence.

Imagine I asked you to look after a little child of six and you must criticise everything they do. Do you imagine they would be happy confident children?  They certainly would not. They would be sad, unhappy children with no confidence in themselves.

I tell my patients to say “well done” to themselves a number of times a day, just as I would say to a young child in my care. I would like to boost their confidence, not diminish it.

My suggestion is that being aware of your self-talk may well be a help to your mental health. Saying well-done about anything – doing your shoe laces up, crossing the street will be much more helpful than blaming yourself for a mistake you made.

I personally have a phrase I use many times a day when something has gone wrong – instead of saying “what an idiot I am” I say “what can I learn from that?”

I believe that helps my mental health much more than self-criticism.

Worrying About What Others Think

Most English people that I have met worry what people will think – about what they are doing, wearing, saying. I think this “what will people think?” attitude is very restricting, limiting, reducing individuality.

There are four things against this “What will people think?“ attitude –

1 It doesn’t matter what they think

2 You will never know what they think.

3 They don’t care what you are doing.

4 What is important is what YOU think.

Whether you like it or not, you are the most important person to yourself. Doing what YOU want to do, saying what YOU want to say, dressing how YOU want to dress is much better for you than worrying about what other people think.

Panning For Gold

This is a little story I made up to help people become more positive.

Two men went to a river to pan for gold. One went to the left bank, the other to the right. The man on the left put his pan in the mud of the river and said to himself “what a lot of mud there is, I’ll never find any gold here”, and plodded through the day moaning about the mud, picking out a few specks of gold as the day wore on.

The other man on the right side only looked for the specks. He knew there was a lot of mud, and he also knew there may be gold specks amongst the mud.

At the end of the day the man had experienced a lovely day and much more gold than the man on the left.

Yes, there is a lot of mud in our lives. There are some specks of gold too.

In Melbourne I went into a doughnut café and on the wall was written

As you go through life make this your goal, Keep your eyes upon the doughnut and not upon the hole.

All these suggestions I have made are aimed at helping you to help your mind and your mind to help you.

Being aware of what is happening in your mind is a major factor in making an improvement. Making that CHANGE a PRIORITY means that your mind is aware you are trying to help it help you.

If you have a stone in your shoe as you walk you will become aware of it. Very few people continue to walk and do nothing about the stone.

To conclude, in the words of the comedian, Billy Connolly

“My own company doesn’t frighten me, we are friends”.

BE A FRIEND TO YOURSELF