Throughout lockdown we have been aware of the physical walls that separate people, though what about the mental walls that keep others out?
While we can all fall victim to this, men in particular suffer in silence as they remain squashed under societal pressures that it’s somehow not manly to cry or show emotions.
This is why The Activated Man – a series of podcasts to help men who are struggling – could not come at a better time as it empowers them to recognise that they deserve a voice in society.
Speaking exclusively to Uspire about the project, spiritual extraordinaire Evan Strong revealed why he became involved and how he hopes to help question gender roles.
Evan said: “Something from my background in psychology and the social sciences left me troubled, that the average Australian man has 0.5 friends to turn to in a crisis while the average for Australian women is about four to five friends.
“This discrepancy has motivated me to assist in somehow finding ways to redress this issue.
“Being asked to participate has highlighted to me that my perspective, including analysis of empathy and Gnosticism (belief that humanity’s nature is divine), could be of benefit in deconstructing/reconstructing issues of identity, gender roles, and cultural expectations.”
Evan hopes that by sharing his own attempts to smash stereotypes and express his true self that he can guide others through the process to find their balance too.
He does this by embracing all facets of his life, without suppressing anything that poses a threat to the expectations of ‘being a man’.
Evan explained: “I have a feminine side in that I am well-groomed, have empathy and talk about my feelings with friends – sometimes even at my local pub while the football is on.
“I balance this with masculinity, like going to the gym, Indiana Jones style adventure looking for lost artefacts and archaeological sites, and, most importantly, opening pickle jars.
“Society now has leaned too far into a toxic masculine energy; a feminine energy is needed to temper the imbalance. In saying that, there is definite toxic femininity at play too.
“We need an integrative balanced approach for ourselves and collectively for society.”
Evan strives for others to see their personal imbalances and be comfortable enough to address them, deconstruct and reconstruct new ways of being, feeling, thinking, and interacting.
While his beliefs may sound like the stepping stones to creating real, long-lasting change, the question is HOW are men to make these changes living in a modern world?
Evan believes that the first chess piece move is to look inwards rather than out.
He said: “Self-reflecting can be difficult at first. I was lucky enough to journal for university assessments within my counselling and human relations/communications majors, this afforded me with the necessary skills to look inside myself.
“I’d suggest anybody new to looking inwards that you should try to journal and write your thoughts and feelings out, draw or paint, write a poem or song, or even a combination of all. Trust me, it gets easier with practice until it becomes second nature.”
Evan continued: “Being an Activated Man is about being responsible, vulnerable, adventurous, courageous, solutions-oriented, logical, pursuant, protective, grounded, giving, action-oriented, leading, boundary-setting and steadfast.
“It’s also being okay with defeat and realising that obtaining these qualities takes time.”
The world-renowned theorist, who co-founded Forgotten Origin with his father Steven, also said it is important to allow downtime to break the traditional paradigm and archaic notion of masculinity that demands men to be working and busy all the time.
In Evan’s case, he challenges the pressure to overwork by ensuring work-life balance and unwinding to his favourites Grand Designs, River Cottage and sci-fi.
Evan also urges men to challenge social conditioning that enforces they must be good at sport.
He said: “In my case, I am terrible at sports and was always picked last in the high school teams. I have found other ways to be physical via gardening, reforesting and landscaping, which I also find grounding, and working out at the gym or in fitness classes.”
Even leading the conversation as a facilitator, Evan says it has reminded him to stay true to his way of being and encouraged him to continue on his path to activate his true self.
Evan concluded: “I am on a journey that will need adjustments as I go, no doubt, but hopefully we can all together show other men in this chaotic world that there is another way to be a man.”
Yoga guru and The Activated Man event organiser Carrie-Anne Fields said she hopes the new podcasts will help men as a tool to explore their spiritual wisdom.
Carrie-Anne told us: “Men are looking for leadership as to what their roles are in this new world and how to empower themselves to be a warrior who can live their own truth.
“We want people to feel empowered, to be a truth unto themselves and to know it is possible to break free from the matrix of control.”
And as Evan summed up perfectly, they hope to show men they can be a warrior while being protective and strong without being dominating or aggressive.
To listen to the podcast, click here: The Activated Man.