As human beings we are fundamentally social in nature, staying connected and feeling valued for who we are is of primary importance to us. Playing and being involved with footy is an important component for healthy blokes and healthy communities. Men and women engage in grassroots footy for a whole range of reasons; to keep fit, the challenge and contest, passion and interest, pride in our town, commitment to our club, and mateship.
Talking to other people about issues in our lives helps us to normalise our experiences and realise we are not alone in having them. As blokes we tend to retreat into ourselves when things are turning pear shaped (cave time), this is often one-way men tend to start processing their problems.
Metaphorically, stepping into the cave can be helpful to get a handle on things but it is important to acknowledge and recognise when it is time to step back out and either make positive changes in our lives and/or seek the support we need to help make change. Having a plan already in place that identifies who the mates are that we can turn to is important. Without a network of true mates, we become susceptible to feelings of isolation and loneliness.
As blokes we can recognise three main categories from where we find and establish real mateship. These exist usually in the forms of a partner (intimate relationship), a peer (someone around the same age that perhaps has a similar life experience) and a mentor (an older person we look up to). A real mate is more than just an associate, it’s someone that knowingly respects and values who we are and is willing to make the time to genuinely listen to us. Think about who you would classify as a mate; and about the blokes you know who perhaps have few or none of these categories of a mate in their lives?
Being a good mate is about actively looking out for the people we care about and acting when we recognise that something is not quite right. If we have a gut feel that someone we know is not travelling well, don’t be afraid to ask them how they are going, remembering you may have to ask more than once! Supporting a person in that space and genuinely listening to what they have to say can make a difference to someone feeling alone or struggling with a life issue. We don’t have to be an expert or necessarily have any of the answers to people’s problems, just the ability to listen with empathy.
For more men’s health and wellbeing information check out our website, here you will also find our recently launched Working with Warriors podcast series.
Alternatively get in touch with us via the details below for a chat about arranging one of our community educators to present a health and wellbeing session or run a Fast Track Pit Stop for your local community group or club free of charge.