Bestselling Barna author is a man on a mission
Photo credit: Pat Divilly
Pat Divilly is on a mission to improve men’s mental health, starting with his own. The Barna native has much to be proud of but it is his work in this area which he says is his “most fulfilling yet”.
From humble beginnings, Pat forged a name for himself in the fitness industry in 2012, training clients on a local beach before opening his own gym and running online classes. Since then, he has been on an impressive journey encompassing many different roles.
Personal trainer, martial artist, retreat leader, fundraiser, mountain climber, author and yoga teacher are just a few of the many impressive titles on his cv.
Aged 34, Pat says that he does not like definitions. “I don’t like motivational speaker and I don’t like life coach; those things seem so cocky and arrogant.”
What he is most proud of, is his mental health work. In particular, the work that has helped other men with their own individual struggles.
Pat walked away from his hugely successful gym business in 2017 to pursue an alternative kind of fitness.
“The last couple of years since 2017, its more what I call mental and emotional fitness. It’s trying to normalise the idea that we look after our bodies on a daily basis for long term health.
“But for me at least, I thought that mental health was just supposed to be there, like, I didn’t see it as something within my control.
“And I really struggled with my own mental health for years,” he says.
By age 28, Pat had bought a house, a car and had opened a thriving business but still he felt unfulfilled.
“I ticked every box that I kind of chased for my 20s, kind of cliché story, but I was at the psychiatrist saying, ‘what’s wrong with me, I’ve got everything and I should be happy, I feel miserable’.
“That was a defining moment in terms of the way I put it to people now, is that I ran out of places to look, like I would always look around the corner for my happiness,” he says.
“I was 28 and I had everything but I was still the scared 10-year-old boy with the same fears and insecurities and self-doubt.I thought becoming successful would hide those things but it only amplified them,” he says.
Pat set up ‘Base Camp Men’s Group Coaching’, an online men’s group which meets for discussions and offers support and tools for men to grow in areas of emotional intelligence, business, communication and wellness in a safe and compassionate environment.
Further to this, he also set up ‘Base Camp Men’s Retreats’, a three-day weekend retreat within Ireland in which men meet a “tribe of like-minded men and be coached, supported, challenged and inspired to bring about more confidence and clarity in your life”.
The focus on male mental health within the men’s retreats allows for those involved to heal whatever individual things are troubling them whilst also slowing down and learning how to communicate.
“We live in a culture of needing to get ahead, needing to be special, needing to be better than other people, needing to have more money. But the more you chase, the more disconnected you become.” he says.
Pat describes the work on the men’s retreats as some of the most fulfilling he has done so far.
“To see these young guys communicating in a way I couldn’t communicate until a couple of years ago. Equally to see men my dad’s age and older who are coming in and saying, ‘I’m so glad I’ve come to this stuff, I finally understand myself or I cried for the first time in 20 years’, it’s special”.
He points to the increasing popularity of mindfulness and says it is symbolic of people wanting to come together. “People are just crying out for community; I think healing happens in community” he says.
Pat is excited about his new bestselling book Fit Mind, believing it to be a more accurate representation of where he is currently, in comparison to his previous books which he does not feel depict who he is any longer.
Pat describes Fit Mind – 8 weeks to change your inner soundtrack and tune into your greatness as a culmination of what he has learnt about mental and emotional health over the last 10 years and is an offering of a practical approach to “true self-care”.
Fit Mind is available now online and in shops nationwide.