Changing MENtality

Who Are Our Role Models?

April 09, 2021 Changing MENtality Season 2 Episode 7
Changing MENtality
Who Are Our Role Models?
Show Notes Transcript

In this episode Aidan, Ben, Caleb & Kevin discuss everything about role models. Who inspires us, who our role models are, the effects that negative role models may have and the role that family members and friends play in our lives.

Relevant resources to these subjects can be found below.

  • Students Against Depression - The Students Against Depression website has lots of information about tackling depression and low mood, including self -help resources and workbooks for students to work through to start taking steps towards tackling low mood.
  • HOPELine UK-phone 0800 068 41 41: confidential service specifically for young people (under 35). They can offer crisis support for someone who is experiencing thoughts or feelings of suicide, as well as providing information and advice for those concerned about someone else.
  • Addiction & Dependency Resources can be found on the Mind website.
  • Family Support Services for those with family struggling with alcohol dependency can be found on the Alcohol Change UK website.

You can find other episodes of Changing MENtality here.
You can also find us on Facebook, Instagram & Twitter
here.

Further resources can be found below.

  • Student Space - Online, one-stop shop’ for students in England and Wales who want to find help for their mental health or well-being.
  • Student Minds website - Information about different support services available, including how to find them and what to expect when using them for the first time.
  • Your GP Service - can refer to specialist support and services.
  • University Student Support Services e.g. counseling, mental health advisers, student advice centre, students’ union.
  • Samaritans - phone 116 123, email [email protected] 
  • Papyrus: email [email protected]
  • NHS 111-Non-emergency line run by the NHS.
  • 999-for an emergency situation.
Ben:

Hi, everyone, thanks for joining me today on the changing mentality podcast with Student Minds. I am joined by Caleb, Kevin, and my name is Ben. Today, we're gonna be talking about role models, and what that means for men and men's communities and kind of these personal growth factors, as well as a little bit of a description of a psychological model of role models. So then everyone, please just introduce yourselves. Caleb, I'll start with you. And talk us through yourself. What's your experience of role models for everyone? Yeah, so I'm Caleb, I'm talking about role models, it was quite difficult to sort of identify like people in particular, for me, I don't think I was ever really someone who went, Oh, that person. So I want to be like that celebrity, that singer, that musician, that sports person or whatever else. And so I think for me role models, a lot of the time is just taking different traits and different characteristics from different people and sort of trying to inherit that yourself, you know, that that's what role models are. To me. It's usually a variety of people. Yeah, I think that's quite a common experience. I mean, me me as well, I can relate to that. There's never been one sole figure that I've been, oh, I want to be like this person. I want to just follow them. Exactly. I want to replicate whatever they do. I think that's quite a big point for us to bring up there. Kevin, How about yourself? I think for me, role models is like, again, as Caleb said, it's not exactly one, like, single person and it's like, bigger in my head. It's more Oh, I like, I like that person confidence. You know, I like that person's style, their way of speaking, things like that. And I just try to emulate the best parts. But at the end of the day, it's just about, like, trying to make myself trying to be comfortable with myself. Most importantly. Yeah, that's definitely an important point. Um, I mean, that's kind of why we're doing this thing is to make sure men can feel comfortable with themselves and have those experiences that they can relate to everyone and show it's not it's not just them, it's not just them so they can feel comfortable with themselves and feel grow and relate to other people. Aidan, how do you feel? It's a very difficult question to answer, especially if you haven't had a lot of time to consider it before because it's not something that instantly comes to our head when we think of what inspires us in life. Like occasionally, you might find one person like if your child for example, it's gonna be like, I don't know sportstyle something along those lines. Like for me personally, it was Steven Gerrard going up, cause I'm a Liverpool fan, but

Aidan:

it's very difficult because Kevin and Caleb also said, to put someone on a pedestal was your main role model can actually be quite problematic, especially if you start to base aspects of your own life after them. Because at the end of the day, people are imperfect and problematic in their own ways. So it can actually be quite damaging if you find out this individual that you've modelled certain parts of your life over that you as I said, Put on a pedestal is not this omnipresent, perfect figure that you envision so for me, it's very difficult to sit here and have a list of who's a role model for me I would rather say similar to what Kevin said that certain people in my that I've experienced personally or have read, watch, listen to etc. have added or encouraged little parts of my life and things that I would have liked to do better and subsequently have done better, I guess.

Ben:

Yeah, I'm I'm glad you brought up that point about how role models can actually be negative influences. Particularly if you know some people are role model themselves after bad influences and things that are unhealthy for them. Open that up to the group. Who do we look up to? Even if it's just like a you know, for me personally, I like the Master Chief from Halo I think he's pretty cool and I think he's a badass opening it up, it can be anyone who do we all related guys. Um, I think for me like it you do separate into groups of like people that you might be inspired by in like a work context or in social context. So like a fashion context depending Louis Theroux is someone that comes to mind for me straight away as far as like work and what I want to do. Documentaries is something that I've always wanted to make I've always been interested in and he's someone that definitely

Caleb:

He definitely inspires me. As far as in that realm. Yeah, definitely.

Kevin:

Um, for me, I think, like you said, killed as big. And I've been thinking about this recently that there's a huge, there seems to be a difference between like role models and people who inspire you to be better. I feel like there's a difference. But I'm not really sure if that is me, I thought in a second and second, my mom and dad, incredible people, genuinely just so powerful. My biggest role model, however, is, have you guys seen Parks and Recreation?

Ben:

Ron Swanson. Now, Leslie, no.

Kevin:

You cannot tell me that there is a more incredible person on this planet. She's loyal, passionate about what she does. Um incredibly intelligent, resourceful, such just like qualities that I really look up to, in a person in a character and just who I want to be. And yeah, like Leslie Norris, on that inspires me every day, literally every single day.

Ben:

I mean, that's really good to hear. And I'm glad you brought up the point about that kind of difference between inspirational figures and role models. When I was going away and researching this topic, I came across a psychological paper, as mentioned, that kind of describes what a role model actually is. So there's a paper by Morgan Ross et al in 2015, which is called the motivational theory of role models. It basically just says role models are people who motivate us to accomplish our goals. And they can be inspirational, they can represent what we would normally think is impossible, really difficult, they can demonstrate that those things are possible. And are there any kind of instances where we thought, I can't do this. And then we see someone succeed. And we've taken after that.

Aidan:

I think it depends on how you really want to view it, doesn't it? And so an example for me is, I'm not a creative person. And I will hold my hand up, for example, I can't draw, I can't write can't sit and can't whatever. But when it comes to being open, and being sort of being able to translate, you're doing something that is creative, say a piece of writing poetry. Hell, Why say I think they call it micro level, I guess, is the best term in our own lives. So like, for example, I recently read a book by Derek Owusu, which is a fiction book but is autobiographical in its its nature. So it basically tells a story of a young black boy mental health issues, discrimination, etc. But just the way that some could speak so clearly and transparently about this traumatic aspect to them helps me although I don't share the exact same experience to be more open be, and process, what has happened to me, and what will happen to me in a way. So it's the value of having an inspirational figure, even an object like a physical book to hold, that can be quite inspirational in that way, I guess.

Ben:

Yeah, definitely. I think I'm having those kind of objective ways that we can measure inspiration are important. In your language, say, if you've got something like data in front of you, and you're seeing these things happen, then it really is important that we can learn from that. And as previously mentioned, we've said we've we can say that role models can be bad influences, I think it's important to notice that they can go the other way. If other people are aren't succeeding, then some people might take that especially Oh, hang on, I can do this better, I can take that next step. Does anyone else relate to that?

Kevin:

I really like that you brought up I'm someone who makes you, who inspires you to like articulate how you feel. Because I think within the within the space of mental health, it's so important to see other people also be able to like to share, even if it doesn't matter if they're articulate enough, or their English is perfect, or whatever language it is, as long as you can see someone I feel that way. I feel like when I can see other people sharing, then I feel like I'm in a safe space to do the same. And that inspires me as well.

Ben:

That's a good point, actually. And I think I kind of missed that one with what I just said. But I'm moving on to that point of kind of how men can share how they're feeling and stuff. Obviously there kind of been a rise in certain male figures in recent years. We've got people like Jordan Peterson, we've got people like Ben Shapiro, we've got like Joe Rogan. What is Everyone's opinions on on that type of person, Aidan, I can see you getting pretty animated.

Aidan:

I'm referring, I'm gonna not comment on Jordan Peterson and Ben Shapiro my own personal opinion. But you can see how this sort of figure appeals. Because unfortunately, in this in this culture that we're in, you've got, especially if say the me too movement,, they've got some subsections the primarily or entirely male who feel oppressed and victimised, I guess, in a way, and these sort of figures, give them back their power, albeit in, of course, I'm sure Jordan Peterson's done lots of good things for lots of good people, but has that has actually in some people directed their life in a negative way, which is the difficult the difficulty in the issue of idolising one person and their views themselves, because at the end of the day, not one person is going to be an expert on everything or each individual circumstance or context. Like I could pull someone man about my head for a role model. And whilst I feel that their their struggles and their words apply to me, it's going to be they may have responded differently in my exact circumstance. So there, there's something to say there about having about idealisation, I guess, and I guess, putting all your eggs in one basket when it comes to role models or people you believe in.

Ben:

Yeah, and importantly, I think you kind of touched on it there when we're idolising people. in psychology there is these things called parasocial relationships, where you might not actually know that person in real life. But like for someone like Jordan Peterson, you can see them over the internet, and you can see them speaking, and you can see them putting out all of these big messages. And people get too heavily entrenched into that, where they start to idolise these people, and then they start to go down really unhealthy routes. Caleb, I'm gonna bring you into this, what are your thoughts on something like that? Yeah, so I think with idolising, celebrities, or anyone that's in the media, it's problematic from the start, because you're only seeing a version of that person or very positive, sort of the best version of

Caleb:

that person so, you're not really how they are as a person might not be entirely achievable or entirely attainable, just because it's not an entirely accurate or authentic presentation of that person. I don't think it's entirely exclusive to like celebrity and popular figures, I think you could easily take that back to just people on social media, because you very much have that same hyper positive sort of the best bit of someone's life, even in that sort of context.

Ben:

Yeah, so you're kind of saying there needs to be a bit caution about who we're relating to them. I think maybe not sort of who, who who exactly is but more sort of the way you treat it, you know, you should take what you're seeing with a pinch of salt, you shouldn't sort of look at it and go that is that's how their wife is fully because we know, that just isn't going to be the case. Yeah, I think that's gonna be a big lesson for a lot of people listening to this is that people aren't always as they seem, and we've kind of had to just go for our is that people can be bad, and that there aren't always positive takeaways. And sometimes there's a learning experience with these things. And like you say, sometimes we should just take it with a pinch of salt, Aidan, Kevin, your thoughts? I mean, yeah, we, it's harder to actually do the thing than to just say, because obviously we can say, yeah, obviously, like the Kardashians lives not that glamorous, it's not all the time like that. actors and actresses. We know that in our heart of hearts, we know that it's not all real and that we shouldn't completely believe it. However, in the back of our heads were just I feel sometimes like, I'm in the back of my head. I'm like, if their lives are like that, why am I the odd one out? You know, and I shouldn't, but I'm working on it, which is obviously again, it's a journey. But I think that there is a bit of uh, I don't know that there's just we shouldn't just be too blind to how closely we follow people. You know, like, I try to remind myself all the time about this, that I can't, that no one's perfect.

Kevin:

Everyone hopefully is trying to be so I tried to be he kind of it shows the importance of having role models within your close personal and family lives in a way because that isn't filled. In a way, if you for example, if you've got a role model in your father or an uncle or brother, in fact, you're going to see them at all ends of their emotional and personality spectrum. So I guess the whole point that I've kind of come into this with is that when you have a role model, it's admiring the person warts and all flaws, including Well, you don't have to accept every inch of their being is perfect or get defensive if someone disagrees with that. But it's, it's difficult, isn't it, because the our society shapes the way that we that men, women, non binary, anyone along those lines have sort of expected to achieve some form of perfection, whether that be real or fake. And as Kevin, as he just said, we all sort of know that the quote unquote, perfection we see like the Kardashians or a complicated off the top of my head. But we know that that's not what they always are, what they've been, like we know that I can't even name a Kardashian off the top of my head, that's really bad. But like, we know, they're not, they don't wake up with faith full of makeup and look perfect all the time. However, we seem to internalise it as that is the standard that we need to live up to. And that can be quite difficult for anyone to really accept and move on from my guess and try. And when you try and apply that to your life, you are very hyper critical of yourself. And it's sad to see, because you see so many people who are doing extremely well, but can't accept that they are they always have to be pushing for the next thing because they're constantly they've got this perfectionism that comes from the role models or inspirations overheads. But that could just be the perils of social media, I guess.

Ben:

Yeah, I think you kind of touched on a big point there. It seems like there's a lot of pressure, particularly on young guys to kind of live up to certain ideals. What's everyone's thoughts on that?

Kevin:

Personally, I've been on a personal journey, the past couple of years of just not caring, you know, I mean, just like, genuinely, just not caring about, within reason, I will say that, not caring about what other people think of me, that's very important. Not not caring in general. Um, and so I don't feel the need to be perfect, just because it's too much effort, and what is perfect anyway. And I feel like, I did feel the pressure, I felt a lot of pressure, I still sometimes feel pressure today, every single day. But it's a journey, like I said, and like, it's, it's like, honestly, it's like ascending. Like when you figure out that there's so much crap everywhere. And you just need to work on yourself and be the best that you can be, you tend to look at things that you can learn from. So now when I look around at people, I think I look at like, the good stuff in them, like, what can I learn from you. I'm incredibly inspired, like, every single day by my friends, my siblings, my parents, like I said, from people I see on TV, but good stuff, you know, like their confidence, their determination, things like that. That's what I try to model. And that's how that in that way I try to shake this feeling that I need to be perfect. And that I need to like live up to this standard. Because I don't have a standard. As weird as that might sound like it makes sense in my head. But I don't have I don't have one, I genuinely I just don't care because I'm working on myself and no one knows what's going on in my head. I do. Um, so that's how I try to just fight against being perfect. I don't really want to be

Caleb:

I think there's there's definitely power in not caring and not sort of thinking I need to please this person, I need to get approval from this person or whatever else. And I can definitely relate to the idea of like being inspired by friends by family members. And I think it's good that you can aspire to be like those people because those people are very similar to an aren't these figures these otherworldly sort of famous celebrity or whatever else. Yeah, I think I think it's really good. To go back to the very start of the podcast, I think we're often inspired by friends especially because we'll probably seek out the traits that we want to be like in the friends that we have. And I think that's that's something that we we definitely do I know I do anyway. Yeah, I think it is always this point of, you know, living life your own way and not desperately trying to be like someone and just having your own definitions. Like you've said that.

Ben:

So yeah, I think we can all kind of agree there are the societal pressures, but it's It's up to the individual to break free and be comfortable with themselves and learn how to define themselves. Ultimate thus, kind of something that we all want to accomplish is we get to define ourselves, we're not defined by other things. We're not defined by our labels and all things like that. Um, but moving on ever to slightly kind of related, do you role models have to be gendered? Because obviously, a lot of guys watching this might be thing I have to be manly man, blah, blah, blah, all that type of stuff. But anyone's thoughts on that.

Aidan:

So without going into too much detail, I grew up without a father figure in my life. So I'm very similar to you, Ben, when you say that, well, I A lot of my role models come from a different gender than I, because it's very hard because young men automatically put into a box in terms of men have to look up to men, women look up to women, etc. However, it's very difficult to remember that, albeit that there are differences between genders, we can all learn from one another. It doesn't, for example, be being emotional being open is an exclusively a feminine trait, being strong, stoic excetera is an exclusively a mouse, right? And I guess the overall point I'm trying to make is that no role models don't need to be gendered and we should get our influences and feel just genuinely inspired by anyone, regardless of who they are, what colour their skin is, what gender they identify as, if someone inspires you. If someone has a trait that you find or do you want be inspired by it, run with it

Ben:

think you've hit it really on the head there, Aiden? I mean, like, like you say, we, we all might have different backgrounds of fatherhood and motherhood and all these different kinds of things in our lives. Caleb and Kevin, your thoughts?

Kevin:

As I mentioned already, one of my biggest inspirations is Leslie, and she's very obviously a woman. But no, I definitely don't think that role models should be gendered. As Caleb said, In the beginning, if role models are things that like you pick up, you know, like little aspects of people, you can't put a gender on courage, you can't put a gender on intelligence, and you can't put a gender on resourcefulness. You know, I don't see the point in gender and things like that, like I do have role models that are both male, female, non binary, all other kinds of genders. However, it's not exactly the person, it's more what they put into this world, that I want to reflect and that I want to model and like, I grew up around, I also grew up around, a lot of women, ah, and so glad for it, because honestly, I would object out a bit less. Um, but like, they taught me how to just be myself. And they taught me so many things, like my sisters, my mom, and then I learned so many things from my dad as well, and my brother, and my uncles and stuff like that. So for me, it's just like I said, it's trying to be the best I can be. And wherever I get the inspiration to do that, it's not based on gender, or sexuality, or race or background.

Ben:

So we all think there really is a value in what people are doing for us and kind of just what are we learning? And what are we getting from this one of these positivity is in our lives, rather than being dragged down by anything negative? I think, yeah, I just echo what everyone else has said, I'm somewhat tempted to go, No, we should only be inspired by men just to play devil's advocate. But I'm not going to do that. And I think there's a great importance in being inspired by people that might not necessarily be the same as you in terms of gender, in terms of race, or in terms of anything else. Because the traits that there might be aspects of that person that you come across, that you might not have otherwise, and you might sort of learn more about yourself, or you might inherit, you know, caring for new issues, or new new interests, it could be something as simple as that. And I think it's, I think it's important for people to not limit themselves to I'm going to be inspired by people who are as close to being like me as possible, because I think there's a lot that you can learn when you step out of that. Yeah, and like we've all been saying throughout this, we have really have had this continuous thought of break free, define yourself and just know your own limits, but act in ways that are important to you. And it doesn't have to be defined by whatever someone else is doing. I think, Kevin, you've really highlighted that there. And then so then just raise it back to the psychological model. Do we think that the role models is in our lives to help us accomplish our goals? Or do we find that motivation deeper within ourselves?

Caleb:

And I think it's a I think it's a mixture, I think I think it's definitely Good an important to see people that inspire you succeeding, because then you'll see that and you'll think, Oh, well, I can do that because they've done it. But I think it has to come from you. I think you could have hundreds of people that inspire you that are doing well. But I think if you don't have that, I feel like it has to come from you. You know, I'm not, I'm not too sure entirely to phrase what I mean, but I think it's it comes down to are you are you wanting to succeed or not? Are you seeing these games succeed, and you're wanting to because they are, you know, it has to come from what you want to do not emulate and what they do, if that makes any sense.

Kevin:

Um, I'd say definitely. So within my course, so I study about our environment and sustainability and stuff. Um, I have a lot of passion for it, you know. So while I might be inspired greatly by people like Greta Thunberg, and all these kids, like names, we don't even know why I'm inspired by all these people, I feel like it wouldn't have effect, if I didn't care about it as much as I do myself, you know. And that comes down to every single thing, like if I inspired by my friends who, in university who are doing really well. And I also want to do well, but I wouldn't be able to do so if I wasn't, if I didn't have that drive, you know, if I didn't have that passion that like came from inside of me, and I don't know where it comes from. But for me, it's what gives me a lot of focus in a lot of aspects of my life, just because I have I have something to hold on to and something that like drives me, I

Ben:

think there's some really important takeaways there is that we do just have to have that motivation. Like Kevin says, it's about us taking the next step, sure, we can have all these influences, or we can have these role models and inspirations oftentimes is about us taking this step and having the passion to to accomplish our goals. And I'm gonna round it off now, with just one final question. What can we as men do to ensure that other people have these positive experiences and continue to grow and aren't dragged down by any negative influences and just have this this power within them that they can accomplish goals? How can we help people with that? I think in terms of mental health, I think what we're doing now what so many other people are doing helps a lot. I think just hearing about mental health being spoken about in sort of casual context helps a lot. You know, I think there'll be people I know that I've had this way I've heard people talk about mental health or about other sort of issues. And at times, it is like a lightbulb moment. And I think I think that can help in a sense that the second you have those people where they're talking about something openly and that helps you sort of process it or accept it or whatever else they're they instantly become these aspirational figures or these role models potentially. And I think that's in a mental health context. I think that's that's what we can do just have the people be more more open about it and talk about it more really.

Aidan:

Yeah, I'm just gonna echo what you said there Caleb really cuz I guess it's a point of whilst, we can find inflation mothers whilst we can aspire to be certain things being true to yourself and being as open as you feel comfortable with. Because if in terms of mental health, if you are not able to accept it within yourself, you're not going to get anywhere there is important that we as men whilst we can have the critical eye over everything and everyone else in our lives, we need to be able to be compassionate, but yet still somewhat self critical in and where I realised that sounds quite negative, but to be able to call ourselves out when we are when we have the opportunity to do something to make some comfortable to be like, No, I'm actually going to do this, I'm going to put myself out there. It's very difficult. And I'm not undersaying that at all. But I guess my point is that like, for example, this project, like we were 16, men who didn't know each other, what, three, four months ago, probably and we've got to the point now where I consider you some of my closest friends, we need to put ourselves out there more we need to accept that we can have role models, but not idolise a person and try and grow and notice that we neve stop growing as people and there's not some idealised perfect place that will be you always go You always learn new things. And I know it's oversaid that you never stop learning. But it's quite hard to internalise that, in a way I think.

Kevin:

I will say in my experience, it's been like in university, maybe it's just the people I surround myself with, but I do often feel like I'm in a safe space to share how I'm feeling you know, and I think that's because it's been modelled to me. And that's what I model as well, that in my friend groups that this is a safe space. You know, that's what I try to emulate that. If there's something on your mind, we're here to listen, you know, even if we can't help very much, we're here to listen because that's the most important thing that we can do. And I think there's a lot of potential for compassion, as Aidan just said, there's so much potential for people to be compassionate. It's just maddening how far things like that go. I'm like, I felt that when I feel drawn out to being compassionate, it makes me feel really good. And that's what I try to model as well, you know, so there's things that we just, we just alone. And I think in terms of like, the way that we are, we're exposed to so many different characters in life, especially through like social media and stuff, I think there's a lot of worth in knowing what not to someone being a role model of what not to do. I have a lot of those, you know, like people who are like, I do not want to be that do not do that under any circumstances. And I think in a mental mental health context, I think modelling compassion goes a very, very long way, especially in terms of like peer support. I mean, the compliment of someone telling you, you're very approachable, and you made me feel safe, honestly. That's, that's like, up here.

Ben:

I'm also going to echo that guy, you should learn to compliment other guys. Like sometimes, sometimes just saying nice things to each other is all it takes to get someone through the day, you know, I think that we've already kind of had the same message here is that we can learn and we can grow. And we don't, we can just learn to love and be compassionate, and be comfortable with ourselves. Once we start to acknowledge who we are, and accept different things and just be more aware of ourselves, really. I'm going to thank everyone for joining me today. And if any of our listeners have been affected by any of the issues that we've spoken about, then please don't hesitate to get in contact with your support networks, contacts Student Minds, contact, Samaritans, there are all of these wonderful organisations out here that can help people and there'll be a link in the description for all of those services. So um, thanks, everyone for joining me. And we'll see you all next time. Bye Bye. Goodbye. Goodbye.