An Emotional Primer for Men
Boy! We've had it rough! Trained since the cradle to repress our emotions.
Often, even our positive feelings get stifled. We've learned to bring repression
to a high art. This world we now live in rewards us for being cold and
calculating and for sublimating our urge for joy into aggressively amassing
wealth and power. For some, it is only when this whole house of cards comes
tumbling down that it becomes really obvious that this mad pursuit holds
little joy for us. Happiness dwells in the human heart, but the heart gets
so closed off in order to accept the values of our culture. To discover
the happiness we all seek, we have to find a way into the place where we
can actually feel it.
This should be no problem. Just open the heart to joy! Ah! But what
have we jammed down in there like a cork in a bottle? All the pain and
sadness and fear that a lifetime of striving can accumulate. That's what!
Dragging that stuff out and looking at it and letting it go may not be
so easy. All the experiences of life and feeling which we have refused
to acknowledge and express in order to "be a man" now block our
pathway to the simple pleasures of each breath. Bummer!
So, we are faced with a choice. (Mid-life is especially good for presenting
us with this choice.) Do we continue to pursue life as we've been taught
to, accepting that we will get only a fleeting glimpse of real joy, earned
at great risk and effort? Or do we open this Pandora's Box of feelings
to find the fundamental wonder of who we really are? Of course, this choice
only comes to the fore when we are aware that the second alternative actually
exists. The question then becomes: do we have the courage to face our demons
and remove them from our path to happiness? We have so little experience
with dealing with our feelings in healthy ways. This is a most daunting
From a guy's point of view, how do we enter the world of emotions and
cycle bravely through our built up pain and fear? More importantly, how
do we accomplish this without looking, acting and feeling like a Weenie?
For many of us, this problem is more discouraging than the sheer volume
of pent up emotions of a lifetime. Our very concept of who we are spins
madly on our idea of masculinity. It takes a lot of pressure from inside
to force us to redefine what it means to be human. Is being human larger
or smaller than being A Man? If we let life push us to the point where
our feigns overwhelm us before we allow ourselves to, for instance, weep
in public, we lose control (shudder). This can be a major blow to our self
esteem. Not a good alternative.
Let's not underestimate the courage required to embrace the feminine
side of ourselves. We need to be strong and secure in our masculinity to
encourage this softer side to emerge. When we do, all Hell breaks loose!
It's like opening the floodgates to a deep sea of dammed up feelings. We
have some hard upstream swimming to do when this onrush takes place. For
me, the worst part of the process has been the time factor. The guy in
me wants to attack. I want to deal with my emotions head on with Vorpal
sword in hand (the one that goes SnickerSnak [you know, Jabberwoky, didn't
you ever read to your kids?] ). I want to do battle with these vicious
monsters inside me and beat them into submission. Of course, that is what
put me in this position in the first place. Raging against my inner pain
only forces it down inside deeper and deeper until I don't have to see
it anymore. But it doesn't leave.
Blocked emotional energy must be dealt with on its own terms. Innately
feminine in nature, it needs time to unfold and grow and wash over us and
then subside. Grrrrrrrr!
I'll never look at the ocean the same way again. The process of clearing
this accumulation of emotional baggage does not respond to direct assault.
It responds to acceptance and release. It must run its course at its own
pace and under its own power. The more we accept and allow these feelings
to merge with our identities, the more power they accrue and the deeper
they cut. The need to be more accepting and inclusive with this new side
to ourselves grows in turn. This is even scarier than it sounds! We are
flailing around in the dark here. Why are we doing this again? Oh yeah,
the quest for joy! Let's try to not forget that again.
Back to the Wimp Factor. Now that we remember how much balls it takes
to tackle this in the first place, to whom might we look weak and needy
anyway? To other men, possibly, those who haven't the fortitude to inspect
their own darkness, who don't have the nerve to develop their own skills
of acceptance and feeling. Our culture has us viewing the Indian guru types,
for instance, as soft and feminine creatures, whispering about how life
is a flower. Yuck! That is such a chick thing! It can come a quite a shock
to have a direct experience of just such a feeling ourselves. Guys who
think the burgeoning growth of our spirituality and lovingness makes us
Our feelings are our own and we have the right to experience and express
them as fully as possible. There are other men who are threatened by this
because our expressions bring up their own feelings. They don't have the
guts to face them, so ... Screw them too!
Hardest of all though, is the women in our lives. Don't they all just
seem to want a "real man"? Why do you suppose that is? Could
it be that they need to open and develop the opposite side of their nature
as well? Could they need to learn to be strong and self sufficient and
assertive and make their own way in life more? Perhaps expressing the masculine
side of themselves is a bit hard for them as well? If a woman cannot accept
a feminine, emotional expression from a man, might that not say more about
her insecure identity than about his? Since this drive into impulse and
emotion takes the wind out of the sails of our culturally conditioned ritual
of sexual domination and conquest (pant, pant) there is no pun intended
when I say ... Screw them too!
We deserve to be happy and joyful and complete. We can be Man enough
to follow our path without the permission of anyone else. Hell, we have
no choice in that anyway.
There is no longer any need to be or to be seen as "Real Men".
We are on a path to becoming fully human. Stereotypes of what is a man
or a woman are someone else's ideas of who we are. They just don't fit
anymore. We are evolving past that crap now. What a "Real Man"
does in this age is jump in with both feet and attack head on the job of
discovering who he really is. For myself, I'm sick and tired of trying
to "be a man!" I want to become a Human Being!
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