There has been a rising trend in men being told to ‘man up’ and stop complaining about things. The general meaning of ‘man up’ is to be brave or tough enough to deal with an unpleasant situation.
There is also a large issue about men not opening up about things that concern them. I have noticed that some people will hold things in and not discuss them because they know that when they do raise them they get told not to.
There is a definite sense that society at times is becoming less tolerant of other peoples issues and concerns. Do we not have time to listen to others anymore? Have we lost our sense of compassion?
I have witnessed some people start to say what a bad day they have been having, only to have their experiences belittled by the ‘you think you’ve had a bad day….’ followed by the trumping of their experience by an even worse one. It doesn’t mean that the first person hasn’t had a bad day, it doesn’t make them feel any better by hearing the second person has had a bad day too. Unless they’re really comforted by schadenfreude, pleasure derived by someone from another person’s misfortune. So the second person has had the chance to have a moan, but the first person feels even worse.
Whilst most men will be able to take perspective and just plod on with whatever, but without the outlet that they wished for. Some men will be affected in other ways and whilst they wanted to talk about the issue may end up feeling bitter, upset, depressed or disaffected with those around them. Some may end up withdrawn and let the issue and the scenario eat them up inside. Others may become less trusting and close up even further, finding it harder to let people in – thinking that they’ve tried to open up but it was thrown back at them. Some may get angry and not treat those around them as well as they should. There are many different ways that this seemingly small form of rejection can affect a person, and gender isn’t necessarily a common factor here. Being shut down and not given the opportunity to vent and let out frustrations and worries is going to hurt anyone. It is going to have an effect, even if the person who has pushed back isn’t the person feeling the effect of that hurt.
We need to be more compassionate. We need to listen to people who feel the need to share. We need to be there for those who just need someone to be there for them. This isn’t a thing about being a man, being brave, being tough. It’s a thing about being respected as a fellow human being. We are social animals and need to be heard and listened to. People at times need reassurance, they need people to listen and to be there for them. We need to be cared for and have our concerns respected.
Life is hard, times are hard, people can be hard. But when people are kind, times are easier, and life can be better. That requires people to be brave enough to be there for someone, and do that tough thing of listening to others, or not complaining about having to hear someone talk about their problems, but for us to man up and be there for them. Next time you think of saying ‘man up’ to someone, think about the consequences, think about what you could do to help them rather than possibly compounding the situation and making them feel even worse.