One of the biggest issues affecting men in our society is that we teach boys to not show emotions. They are told don’t cry, be tough, or be a big boy. And we expect men to know how to feel, process, and express emotions in a healthy way. Yet these men have never been taught how to do that.
Boys try their hardest not to feel, not to be vulnerable, because they quickly learn when they do and are, they get pushed around in school, bullied on the playground or get called weak, a wimp or a pussy. Those names are degrading and shaming, so boys will do whatever it takes to refrain from being on the receiving end of them. Then it teaches boys emotions are bad. Emotions are things to stay away. Emotions will get you made fun of or be seen as an outcast. They ironically learn that feeling emotions will take away their joy, confidence, and freedom to be themselves, because of what happens when other boys see them being vulnerable.
And the boys using those degrading names use them, because they too are not in tune with their emotions. They have also been taught that boys shouldn’t show emotions. If they were taught it’s healthy to express emotions, they’d never shame another boy when he releases his.
As boys grow up, the distance between their emotions and themselves grows. So when they become men, they tend to be far removed from their true emotional state. Do they allow themselves to know sadness, disappointment, grief, or compassion?
Having worked with hundreds of men, I’ve heard it time and time again. Men hiding in the corner not wanting anyone to see them get emotional. Men pushing down their emotions, and men turning to their vice of choice, drugs, alcohol, or women to numb themselves to their feelings.
Men feel sad and then get mad at themselves for being sad. Men feel disappointed and get mad at themselves for being disappointed. They feel worried and get mad they are worried. It’s as though only certain emotions are acceptable for men…emotions like anger or love. SHARE THIS! Any other emotions are followed by anger, because they are just not acceptable as “real men.”
Men are humans. And all humans have an array of emotions. They don’t fall neatly into the two emotions of anger or love. So when men push down their other emotions like fear, worry, or sadness, they can easily become a ticking time bomb…waiting for any given moment to explode.
Men’s emotional state doesn’t just affect a given moment…if they are mad at this exact instance…it affects their performance on the job, in the bedroom, and in life. It prohibits them from talking to an attractive woman, because they don’t have the confidence. It keeps them from getting a promotion, because they don’t know compassion or empathy with their staff. It interrupts their sex life, because their mojo has declined. It hurts their relationships with their kids, because they aren’t better leaders.
Your emotions directly affect your thoughts and behaviors. Pushing your emotions down or ignoring them is hurting you. You might never have been taught how to feel, process, or express your emotions or maybe you were taught they were bad (because of what happened when you did express them), but now is the time to change that. Having a healthy emotional state is vital for your job, sex life, and relationships.
Feeling something you’re not used it, can be scary. And then fear in itself can be scary. When you feel fear your instinct is to run away from it or to numb yourself. When you don’t allow yourself to feel an emotion and you push it down, it directly impacts your thoughts and behaviors. TWEET THIS!
When you feel fear, you don’t acknowledge it. When it’s time to approach a woman, you get scared. You tell yourself you’re not attractive, you’re not successful enough, and she won’t like you. So you don’t even talk to her.
You have the skills for a new job, but you’re scared you won’t get it. You tell yourself you need an MBA, more experience, or more leadership training before you apply. So you don’t apply.
You’ve been given a great opportunity at your job, but it requires you to lead a group of people. You start second guessing yourself wondering if you’re the right person, what were they thinking in choosing you, or if you have the leadership skills required. You turn down the opportunity, because you’re scared of failure or looking like an idiot.
Allow yourself to feel. Give yourself permission to go with the emotions…and not feel mad or angry that you have emotions. That you feel sad. That you feel grief. That you feel disappointed, or frustrated, or worried. When you don’t recognize your feelings, you stay stuck. When you focus on the emotion, it makes the emotion stronger, and then you get mad at yourself for the emotion. SHARE THIS! Let yourself feel whatever it is you’re feeling and be okay with it. Ask yourself, “Why do I feel that way?” Recognize it and release it.
Express how you feel. Keeping everything bottled up adds to your stress and pressure. When you let it out, you’re also able to let it go (instead of holding onto it). When you let it go, it stops affecting your thoughts and behaviors. Work through the emotions. Recognize them and act in spite of them. That’s the only way to move forward and make progress.
It’s a process. Do it once and next time it’ll be easier. As with anything, the more you feel, process, and express your emotions, the better you’ll get at it. Not only will it improve every aspect of your life, you’ll also be able to pay it forward and help boys, whether they are your sons, relatives, or a mentee, improve their emotional states at a much younger age helping them tackle one of the biggest issues affecting males in our society and giving them back their joy, confidence, and freedom.
We want to hear from you. In the comments below, share with us what emotions you have a hard time expressing. How has it impacted your job, sex life, or relationships?
Jessica Rector’s mission is simple: transform lives. With a BBA, MBA and BS, Jessica started, hosted, and produced her own TV talk show in Los Angeles with just an idea to help others which launched her first company jessICAREctor International. As someone who attempted suicide as a teen, had a lot of self-judgment around being a single parent, and has a brother who died by suicide, Jessica knows challenges, issues, and pain and how to turn them into something good. Through her own experiences, research, and strategies, she helps you break through your inner struggles and free yourself. As a thought leader, keynote speaker, and author, Jessica consults with companies, coaches individuals, and speaks at conferences, conventions, and organizations helping you change what you say to yourself about yourself to change your thoughts and actions to change your life. Jessica is a Contributor for The Huffington Post and The Good Men Project and has been seen on ABC, NBC, CBS, FOX, Business Journal, and Market Watch. Get Jessica’s third book, Breaking the Silence: Taking the Sh out of Shame at jessicarector.com. Follow her on Facebook by CLICKING HERE.