HUMAN: Sean Coffin
Sean's story is not one that involves coming back from a particular trauma. While he has faced some very difficult & traumatic times, what makes Sean so inspiring is how he has worked on his mindset to become stronger in the face of adversity. Having taught himself some valuable tools to transform his mindset & build resilience in his own life, Sean decided to created a safe space for men to not only share their stories & receive support, but to learn valuable skills for improving their mental health & their lives also.
Name: Sean Coffin
Occupation: Founder of The Modern Bloke.
SEAN'S STORY (IN A NUTSHELL)
My story is one of “stereotypical consistent challenges” nothing too drastic but what I feel is relatable to the masses and gives me experience to empathise.
I grew up as a young boy with a single Mum (Dad left when I was 3) and an older sister. This meant exposure and confusion around Masculinity and Femininity. I feel this also gave me higher emotional intelligence.
To basically sum up the emotional roller coaster of my experience: Bullying, body issues, non-diagnosed depression and social anxiety, cheating on a partner, 2 x Domestic Violent relationships (victim), getting a university degree, backpacking solo for 6 months around Europe, living interstate, getting married, getting divorced, more body image issues.
These experiences (and others) impacted my mental health negatively and, with significant emotional and mental experiences, I suffered unresolved trauma and formed bad behavioural patterns such as drinking too much, cheating on a partner, toxic behaviour & self sabotage.
Throughout these I spent a lot of time working on my mindset, understanding myself and building resilience.
CAN YOU TELL ME A BIT MORE ABOUT GROWING UP AS A MALE WITH HIGH EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE?
The main issue around having high emotional intelligence was that I felt my emotions more strongly. Mix this in with typical boy banter/teasing in the schoolyard I took it to heart a lot more.
My mum and my sister are very feminine so I grew up watching Grease, Dirty dancing (my fav movie) listening to back street boys and spice girls etc. Going to Footy etc [was not a common thing for me] which was confusing, some mates supported it, others made fun of it.
Honestly getting through high school emotionally was hard, it affected me years on and showed me how emotional issues can be lasting. It also showed me that often we are affected by issues that other people don’t intentionally inflict on us.
WHAT WOULD YOU SAY WAS YOUR BIGGEST STRUGGLE?
The biggest struggle was getting back momentum after each event [in life], getting back up.
The inability to see a positive future mixed with loss of identity and confidence raised many depressive episodes.
I spent time changing my mindset from the “devastating PRESENT” to the “this is just a chapter” style thinking, addressing any issues mentally and make a plan.
This is why I promote talking things out to rationalise situations/experiences and create a constructive strategy.
WHAT MOMENT WAS THE TURNING POINT FOR YOU?
There was no major moment, it was just working on my mindset after each hurdle. Gradually, over time, I have worked on making my life better.
The point I felt I could help others was after my divorce, I was in a really bad place mentally but I was able to rebound due to the work I had put in previously around my mindset in life, understanding who I was and why I was thinking the way I did. Then mix this with an amazing support group of "quality over quantity" friendships.
HOW DID YOU "BOUNCE BACK" AFTER EACH HURDLE?
I learnt more each time "I got back up". It was a series of 2 steps forward, 1 step back, then 3 steps forward, 1 step back, gradually moving further forward each time.
With the divorce, I owed it all to the work I had done internally on my mindset, but also externally on cultivating relationships with people who were there for me. [Creating valuable & meaningful connections is an important part of creating a space for optimal mental health).
This wasn’t lucky or by accident, this was due to decades of working on myself and relationships rather than just “it is what it is”.
I took ownership, realised blaming luck/the situation/other people wasn’t any good to me & wouldn't help me bounce back, and I got on with it. I spoke to friends/family, I took my time to experience the negative emotions, I then put plans in place to get back on track, ticking things off as I went.
HOW DID YOU ALTER YOUR MINDSET?
Active thinking and communication (with myself mostly) to understand WHY I was feeling how I was. I read up on self help books, and reflected on each experience to understand WHY I react the way I do. Then I challenged myself, is this how I want to be?
This is a hard question, I cannot stress the importance of just learning about yourself and how/why you act the way you do.
Meditation, gratitude, positive thoughts, being active etc helps your mindset, but without consciously being aware of yourself, who you are, then it doesn’t work at the core.
HOW ARE YOU NOW?
I am good, life has its challenges as I’m not perfect, but things are going well.
I have an amazing supportive Fiance who encourages me to try and help blokes in society. Due to open and honest communication and her allowing space for me, when things get bad mentally or emotionally I can talk about it to her, or a select number of mates. (The coaching part of The Modern Bloke is to have someone to talk to, if you don’t have that safe relationship).
TELL ME ABOUT THE MODERN BLOKE! HAS RUNNING IT EFFECTED YOUR OWN MENTAL HEALTH?
We [The Modern Bloke] use social media and events to change the cultural mindset around Men’s Mental Health and social issues such as domestic violence, suicide, violence and addiction.
We use “Strength In Numbers” to allow blokes to speak to each other about issues faced but also support each other in areas of society we know help improve mental health.
My reason behind it was I could see so many everyday blokes who just needed to chat, verbalise their thoughts and realise we can regain control of life, and actively improve our lives. The more we can work on improving ourselves as individuals, the more we can improve men and society as a whole.
Since running it, I have felt excited and positive, the response from blokes and females that support the cause has been great. I am extremely hopefully and positive with the future and the ability to help blokes mindset change with a quicker learning curve than it took me.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE SOMEONE GOING THROUGH A SIMILAR SITUATION?
Honestly? 3 things
Life can suck, it has it’s ups and down, be prepared for it and it will lessen the shock. These things don’t define who we are. We can’t stop bad things from happening but we can do a s*hitload of things to minimise the impact or decrease the risk of it happening.
It happens to everyone! We lose jobs, relationships break down, we do stupid sh*t. We need to talk about it and support it more, if you need help, seek it and don’t be afraid to ask for support. You aren’t alone.
Do the work, cultivate relationships, questions WHY you are doing things. Take control, there is always something you can do to keep fixing a situation and understand the vices that lead you into situations.
I wholeheartedly believe that through open, safe and robust conversations, questioning pre-disposed cultures and working on mindset that we will create a more fulfilled community of blokes in Australia. This, combined with amazing support and joining with wonderful women, will solve a lot of societies issues.
FINALLY, WHO ARE YOU “BEHIND THE SCENES"? WHAT DO YOU DO WHEN YOU AREN'T RUNNING THE MODERN BLOKE?
I do activities with my fiancé, catching up with family and friends (we value Quality over Quantity). I understand that I need to put in effort to maintain these relationships.
My perfect wind down time what I call “Mens Mediation” and occurs 3pm Sunday, I love having that time to watch the Footy and just tune out and be entertained.
If you'd like to follow Sean's page on instagram you can find it here: @themodernbloke
You can check out the website here too: https://www.themodernbloke.com.au
HOW I FOUND SEAN:
Last year I noticed that there was a lack of support for men, particularly when it came to mental health. I took to instagram to search for some male-run men's support groups that I could direct men to, and I came across The Modern Bloke. I found myself sharing a lot of the posts on their page and eventually started chatting to the owner of the page, who I now know is Sean (I am always chatting to various mental health pages and it is quite funny that I could very easily walk past them on the street and never know... oh the internet...).
Sean helped me support a loved one by listening to me, and always sharing part of his story with me. After launching the Human Series, I couldn't think of anyone better to reach out to. Someone who has faced his fair share of adversity, and more, but uses his knowledge & experience to help others - it is a beautiful thing. Sean was one of the first people I contacted to interview! I love that he explores masculinity/femininity, and promotes "the brand of man" on his socials, I feel that he really gets how men need to be supported and he is a truly exceptional role model for everyone - male or female! I, myself, have been so inspired by his outlook and we have engaged in countless incredible & insightful conversations. He is a true superhero!
So I hope that perhaps reading about Sean's journey with mindset - you found a little bit of hope. The general thesis of this story, in my opinion, is regaining control over your mindset and your life - no matter what happens.
I hope you enjoyed this article!
The HUMAN Series
I started this series because, in a world where we all put on happy faces online and in-person, it is very easy to feel alone and isolated when we are struggling. Purely because it looks like no one else is.
I want to show you that every person has a story. Every single person on this earth has struggles and has STRUGGLED in the past. Even the happiest people have had to overcome physical/mindset hardships to get where they are in the present.
I want to hear their stories, and I want to share their stories.
I studied psychology because I wanted to help people. When I was going through a difficult time during my teenage years, I just wanted someone to say “hey, I went through that, it was really hard but I’m still here. Life gets better, it did for me and it will for you”
So, I want to bring to light the experiences of others, their struggles, how they got through it and their advice for anyone in the same (or similar) situation. As they say hindsight is 2020, when we work together and support one another, things can be more manageable.
If you think of someone who has a story that needs to be shared - please DM me on instagram (instagram.com/jessnugent1).
Love & strength,