The way men talk is changing – by Neil Harrison

Inspiration

Over the 15 months of filming Steve – a documentary to save men from suicide, Ben Akers (Director), Claire Wilkinson (Producer), Gavin Thorpe (musician and therapist), Blue O’Connor (KINGS), Tom Watson (Project Get a Grip) and myself, saw a diamond being forged from a fire of grief, courage and honesty. Talk Club was this diamond.

Born from the idea of physical talk clubs that are springing up in the north of England (for example Andy’s Man Club featured in Steve), we saw the opportunity to put mental fitness back in the hands of men, by using mates to be the support and mirror to what every man is going through.

Talk Club provides this safe space to share and grow – a talking and listening club that keeps you mentally fit by exercising your honesty, daily.   

Breaking the surface of ‘I’m ok’

We rarely break the surface. We’ve got all the tools ready – a bag of deflective automated responses that make us sound like Alexa. Even if we do have something we want to share, how do you say it? How do you start that conversation?

Talk Club is a safe space to get underneath the skin, straight into the heart of what is really running our day. How are you feeling today? Give me a number between 1 and 10. Ten being on top form, one being shit. Now tell me why you feel that number. Now we’re talking.

Today I’m a 6 because I’m anxious about a meeting and I’m worried about how it might go.

How can you get to a 7?

I’m going to write down some prep notes then go for a run.

In two questions we can face our internal dialogue and have a plan of how we are going to give ourselves some much-needed attention, instead of trying to please everyone else and stop the judging.

Being a mirror to yourself and for others

Whilst a Talk Club can be digital in between meet-ups, being face to face with a few mates and listening to them talk and seeing their body language gives the most value. There’s something that clicks, a recognition of ‘I’m not alone in feeling the feelings I am feeling’ – we understand this is part of life and we can deal with what is coming up as it happens, meeting it head-on. In being empathetic with others we become more empathetic with our self, less harsh, opening and realising the strength in being vulnerable.    

Why being honest with ourselves and others is more than a relief

It’s not just contemplating something and then talking about it that makes us feel lighter and better for it, it’s what we have the courage to contemplate and share. In being honest and saying what we usually don’t want to face – something that we think may make us look bad, weak, stupid, to be open to being viewed as vulnerable, that is the healing part.

Why? Because we have been taught to only talk about the positive stuff and suppress the spectrum of troubles that are usually inconvenient for others to hear, we’ve been on automatic ‘deal with it later’ mode. This is where true mates come in, the ability to listen, to not judge and not to solve, we solve it ourselves. This way Talk Club can be a real life-saver.

If you need someone to talk to and need help, please call the Samaritans on 116 123 –  free from any phone, open 24 / 7, 365 days a year.

Start your own talk club now – Talk Club Flyer

Find out more at www.wetalkclub.com

Join the private Talk Club Facebook group here

Find a local councillor here www.counselling-directory.org.uk

Finally – find out where there is a screening of Steve – a documentary

by Neil Harrison – Co-Founder of Talk Club and Producer of the documentary ‘Steve’.