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An Emotional Primer for Men

Chapter 2:  Honest Self Reflection

Self-Love is a two sided coin (at least). Neither side will make the hair grow on your palms. Let's take these one chunk at a time and see what they look like.

Crucial to this process of emotional healing is brutally honest self reflection. Like lancing a boil or drilling a decayed tooth, a no holds barred evaluation of how we feel is an exchange of a little discomfort now for a great deal of pain up the road. No doubt, trying to see ourselves without the rationalizations, excuses and projected blame is pretty tough to bear. After all, if we really LIKED ourselves, we would have precious little emotional baggage to tend to anyway. We should be prepared to wallow a bit in our myriad foibles and shortcomings. Eventually, we will be dredging up traumas to our identities that started as early as birth, certainly from before we had the power to be rational. We need to have the courage to face some demons we can neither explain nor control. If we deceive ourselves about them, just to save face with ourselves, we can bet they will be back.

The male of the species seems to have a slightly easier time with this side of the coin, as compared to the other side that is (don't worry, we'll get to that side too!). This side requires guts and determination. We can relate to that. It represents a frontal attack on our own pet fears. The warrior in us has something to grab onto and do battle with. It gets damn scary in the dark! It is important to remember that it is fear we are fighting and not ourselves. It kinda feels like ourselves after all. We have thought about our fears as though they were part of our identities for all our lives. Recognizing that they have been foisted on us by circumstances we could not understand at the time and by our own innocence, we can go about vanquishing them. It might be easy to say that we have had our fears forced upon us by others. However, that attitude is neither accurate nor helpful. We have taken them on willingly and bear the responsibility for believing what we were told, by people who had done the same.

Itís pretty easy to see that in order to even begin this process, we need to have a strong sense of pride and confidence in our own abilities. We have spent millennia proving ourselves capable of withstanding life in this dimension. Facing our emotions (fourth dimensional reality) requires just as much bluster and "Damn the Torpedoes" as any corporate ladder or blocked septic tank. We will get to use all the self empowerment we have gained from a life of "being a man" to go spelunking through this dark cave inside us, peering into the black corners with little but a tiny penlight of intelligence and a great big heart. The courage that TV and movies play up so much is also a prerequisite to this battlefield. If you have come this far, you have already proven yourself and may certainly keep a'goin.

We can also relate to being on the receiving end of criticism (especially those of us who have been married. Oooops! I shouldn't have said that!). Adding our own may not seem so daunting. Of course criticism is not the point here. We are searching for the truth: who we really are. Who we really are is very, very large and full of paradox. To be honest in examining such a creature does not imply criticism but a suspension of judgment. With practice we learn to be detached even about ourselves.

This is a good place for a commercial. The payoff, once again, is that as our ability to face the darkness in ourselves grows, we get more light inside. For every source of pain we allow expression and release, we allow more joy to enter. It is worth the ride. Now, on with our regularly scheduled program.

The masculine side of things tends to be straightforward and simple so there is little else to say. Yes, we must be honest about who we are if we are to discover that identity. No, it is not an easy thing to accomplish and sometimes it hurts like crazy. Not doing it makes the hurt last forever though. So let's take sword in hand and go explore!

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