I help lead a men’s weekend twice a year. Every time I lead it, I’m clear that the men who’s participate will never be the same. It’s always a privilege to be part of causing that transformation.
There are a number of exercises and conversations based around our emotions, how we view things and what it looks like to be a man in this day in age. One of the things that I am always amazed at is just how much as a man, I don’t recognize and show my own emotions.
One exercise in particular focuses on having the men get in touch with their anger and express it. Though it may seem difficult to believe that a man owning their anger is actually something we deal with, the truth is many men either repress or suppress their anger.
During this exercise I almost always myself moved to tears because all I can feel in the room is all the pain and anguish that these men feel. I got present to how much hurt was there, some of it decades old, and how these men had no place to express it.
Upon reflecting I can see that that particular experience is especially moving to me because owning my emotions, expressing my upset and allowing myself to celebrate is something that I’ve struggled with my whole life. In fact I have only recently learned how to do it.
I’m generally very neutral when it comes to emotions. I am known as the level-headed, even keeled guy and can see that when I was 12 and there was a death in the family I thought I had to keep it together to make sure my family didn’t fall apart and since that day cut off both ends of my emoting so I could always stay ‘strong’, put together and level headed. This has been a very good skill to have and there are 2 sides to that, a good and bad.
Being very level headed is great in business, certainly when I’m working with men. Using that when I’m coaching someone allows me to maintain almost perfect objectivity when I’m going deep with people, discussing the pains and wounds they’ve experienced in their life, either from childhood, their parents or their partners. It is also great to have when shit doesn’t work out as it keeps me from really being with the pain and disappointment and people can feel they can come to me with anything and know they wont get a reaction.
On the other hand, this amazing coping strategy keeps me within a very limited range of how I feel and express my emotions. It blocks my ability to empathize and has me never feel the impact of the low lows and also never really celebrate and rejoice the amazing highs. It’s automatic for me to bypass my emotions and by me not fully feeling my feelings I’m limited in my ability to express them.
I know this is a huge problem that a lot of men face. There is so much pressure on men today to be the rock or to handle everything that there are few moments, if any, where we can truly open up to one another and share the pain and hurt that we’ve gone through in our life.
The act of sharing something vulnerable can be very scary, especially with all of the male programming that exists in our culture today. We’ve created such a perverse version of masculinity that anything outside of that limited keyhole is seen as weak or odd and is either discouraged or ignored. As if fully emoting and getting excited or being angry somehow will rob us of some degree of machismo.
We live in constant fear that our masculinity can be taken from us, like it exists outside of ourselves and can be snatched away by someone who makes a simple comment to us or ridicules us in some way.
The truth is that the new version or dare I say real version of masculinity is actually inside of us embracing the full range of what we can feel and express.
A man who can cry, feel pain, get angry, celebrate life and get excited is what a real man looks like. Everything else other then that is what’s fake and not masculine.
It’s time that we all see that our perceptions of what it means to be a man in today’s society needs to change and that we can share ourselves openly and honestly and it doesn’t make you less of a man, it makes you more of one. Vulnerability, sharing, expressing and emoting fully are some of the best qualities a man can have. It actually the ability to that completely that calls forth your masculinity.
I am tired of being the fake version of man, and I’m ready to remember and re-engage with a much higher more authentic version of me.
Who’s with me?
To your fully seen and expressed emotions,
ScottWhere do you want to share this?