Being a man in today’s society can be a lonely ride. As a high performer, the more successful you become, the more glamorous people think your life becomes. Deep down, it can be a lonely road.
In actual fact, the more successful you become, the higher the stress. In turn, the higher the stress, the more time you need to work. The more time you spend at work, the more time you spend on your own, sacrificing valuable opportunities for social interaction.
Being a high performer in the digital age allows you to work anywhere, anytime, anyplace, and most importantly, at any hour. It’s pretty easy to get into a cycle of being overworked. There’s nothing wrong with hard work. It creates energy and is the backbone of achieving great success.
However, the downside is loneliness. The extra workload and the downtime alone (especially for males) can be quite disastrous. Studies have found that cortisol levels (the stress hormone) peak dramatically when you’re alone. Men find loneliness a challenge because it’s not easy to tell people you need friends. Many men don’t foster social outlets as effectively as women and tend to isolate themselves – loneliness becomes overbearing.
Raimond Volpe knows how this feel. He runs a very busy training company, and the more he worked and performed, the more disconnected he felt, especially when he was isolated from people.
“As you become more successful, social media and online supporters compliment, almost filling that gap for real interaction. You get a temporary “fix” but the innate need in all humans for safe connection in social groups, in nature, to experience touch, and general communication with others, go unmet. Over prolonged periods, this breeds misery and quiet dissatisfaction in life, creating mental health challenges. We saw stark evidence of this during the global COVID lockdown,” said Raimond.
“If we look at humanity’s tribal roots, it was a serious threat to our well-being if we became separated from our tribe. We became vulnerable to predators, environmental dangers and exposure. We need the safety of a group around us. It’s ingrained in our bodies to want to function as part of a group.”
Who Is the Culprit?
The real culprit in all this, once again, is ourselves. Our own desires alongside society’s notions drive us to become more successful, but society doesn’t prepare us for the potential hardship.
“In many ways, my experience growing up was akin to being an only child. My siblings are much older than me, so I experienced loneliness from an early age. I adapted and learned to use the power of visualization and creativity to keep myself entertained. In my later years, I used the same skill set, however, the only differences were the addition of stress into the mix, and that impacted my outlook on life,” he said.
“My whole life changed for the better when I took a sabbatical to write my book about success and mental health. I learned a lot about myself, my peers, my friends and my family, but most importantly, I realised that as men, we need a sense of belonging, we need a purpose, and we need meaning in our life.
Out Of Comfort Zone
“I learned I had to get out of my comfort zone and get comfortable being uncomfortable. For example, going out to social areas by myself to meet people. A dog is a great outlet for me. My dog enables me to walk freely and meet other people unconditionally. Getting out of my comfort zone helped me to get my mental health back on track. My posture changed, my tone changed, my language changed, and all for the better.”
Look After Your Health
Health is so important, and without that health, you really don’t have anything. When people get sick, they go to the doctor, but many never actually examined their mental issues when it comes to being lonely – they also need care.
Raimond now actively strives to conquer loneliness, even as a single high-performing male. “It’s never been a priority in my life to include anti loneliness strategies. One day I might have a partner in life, and my experience may be different. As my late father said, ‘everything works out in the end, as long as you can rely on yourself,” he said.