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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 task.

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 pussies? Screw'em!

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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