Learning About My Emotions

Emoting

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,

Scott

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5 thoughts on “Learning About My Emotions”

  1. Great article Scott. You have an exceptional way at allowing us men to see into our true authentic nature with clarity and with power.

    I appreciate the work you do for men

  2. Hi Scott,

    I was with you and those 25 men – and a few years ago I participated in the same exercise. It was life changing for the better for me, and I vented out my own years of accumulated, unexpressed grief and rage. Some of that was about the deaths of my parents, decades before that I’d only partially grieved. Part of that was everything else in my whole life that – similar to you – I’d simply never allowed, or even known how to allow.

    Also similar, I made the choice that you’re making, and did the work to allow myself to feel joyful when I’m happy, and to allow myself to feel sorrow when I’m sad. In all I recommend it. I get to fill up with love from my family and friends in a way that I just couldn’t have connected to before.

    so yeah, I’m with you.

  3. Great article thanks for this insight.

    The larger question for me becomes how to create the space and culture for Men outside an programmed environment to emote in a way that is healing and healthy.

  4. I feel like I’ve had a similar journey except that it happened for me maybe 12 years earlier. I did my first weekend in 1998 followed a few years later by the first legacy discovery weekends where I was a participant and on the training team.

    I too used to limit my emotions because in our family it was considered to be shameful to lose control. When I look back on the times I saw it happen, it was never spoken of again. All the rage and resentment just boiled along inside each of us with no outlet. I can’t imagine how we managed to function as individuals or as a family with all that going on inside us. Somehow we did.

    Later I married my wonderful wife who came from a family where there always seemed to be someone openly pissed off at someone else, and there were good reasons for that. There were a lot of hurtful things happening in that family. I had the pressures of a complicated career, a mortgage, and young children. I bottled up all the worries and anger and blamed my wife. The few times it came out was really ugly. I remember throwing over the kitchen table. For years there was a crack in the counter top where the table hit it.

    My wife did a Women’s weekend in early 1998 and then I started meeting with men about six months later. Listening and talking honestly with “my men” without judgement is a simple thing but it is a gift of immense value. I have been doing it ever since. I did and led anger and forgiveness exercises over and over.

    So now it is 2015, I am 60 years old, still working in IT and there are still frustrations to deal with. I seldom feel angry anymore. My boss loves it when something stupid is going on and he sees me smile and shake my head. Then I figure out a good suggestion and we move on.

    As I get older my emotions are easier to manage. I’m more self aware and I can let off steam when I need to. I have hobbies that take me out of myself and I’m not striving and dissatisfied anymore. My life is what it is, and it’s okay. I’m never gonna make a million dollars and I don’t need to because I have my family, a few friends, and my men who probably love me more than I know.

    I need to make sure that my men’s team is the safest place it can be for my men. I need to push and prod to make sure they all see the value of opening up about the pain in their lives. Then they can recognize the joys too.

    I’ve written a lot here. Thanks for listening.

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