Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Why It's Important For Men To Show Emotions

“Our emotions need to be as educated as our intellect. It is important to know how to feel, how to respond, and how to let life in so that it can touch you.”  Jim Rohn
Image Credit: The Daily Telegraph
I’ve seen a number of men recently who have unresolved old traumas, but they don’t know it. The male culture of hiding your feelings in order to “man up” have kept those memories out of awareness.    I’m really beginning to dislike that phrase. It’s a disservice for two reasons. 
  1. It doesn’t allow men the natural response to upsetting experiences.
  2. It labels those who do allow their feelings to emerge (like women) as weak.   
But emotions are not gendered; they are common to all of us. There is no category of weak or strong, good or bad. Feelings just are. They are the product of our human evolution. They help us to quickly read a situation and know what’s happening. They are information. Each feeling has a purpose and guides us in a different way. Learning to understand our feelings helps us meet life’s challenges more successfully.

Without our emotions we can’t properly assess situations. We are only seeing half the picture. It’s as if we’ve chosen to give up one of our senses. No one would willingly give up sight, or hearing, yet we ask men to give up their feelings and make women feel bad for having them. For the men I’ve been seeing, they have to shut down and deny the reality of their experiences, as if closing off one of their senses. It takes energy to suppress feelings and close your heart. It also has consequences. It means being blind to serious pain and loss, having a deep hurt untended. It is only when they can feel and be compassionate with themselves that they can heal. This form of suffering is culturally bound.   Men, from an early age, are socialized to reject feelings. It’s not manly to cry, to be sad, to feel a range of feelings. Men are restricted to anger as the one socially appropriate feeling. Is it a wonder we have so much violence?  
I am grateful to be able to help men see themselves as fully-feeling human beings. To name and acknowledge their traumas, extend kindness towards themselves, and find positive ways to express hidden feelings. We each have a deep need to be known, and expressing our feelings allows us to be appreciated for who we truly are. Also, we usually feel closer to someone who’s shared their feelings with us. Not expressing emotions limits intimacy and creates shallow rather than deep relationships.  
We have to do better with young boys and make space for them to feel without being mocked as weak. It does no one any good to keep emotions hidden. They don’t go away. They create unrelieved stress, psychosomatic symptoms, addiction or simply fester and come out sideways (often in dangerous and uncontrolled ways). We want men and young boys to feel the fullness of their emotions and the comfort of being accepted and understood.