It’s tough for us as men to ignore thousands of years of training when it comes to opening up and talking about the stuff that’s going on in our hearts and minds.
Propping up the Mask of Masculinity that we all wear has become so second nature that we usually don’t recognize when it is in place and leading the way in how we present ourselves to the world.
The bottom line is this: wearing that mask automatically keeps us from revealing parts of ourselves to others. At work or out in the world amongst strangers, that might be fine. But when we come home to the person we love, that mask serves as a shield to:
a) keep our loved ones from knowing some deeper version of who we are,
b) keep us from feeling the vulnerability that comes from talking about our feelings, and
c) disconnect us from our personal integrity.
There is a pattern I have observed in men that is very consistent across a wide range of ethnicity, socio-economic status, religion, race, education, and political persuasion.
Here are the five most difficult things for men to talk about:
- When men feel scared.
- When men feel hurt.
- When men feel angry.
- When men feel sad.
- When men feel ashamed.
The common denominator between all five of these challenges is that they each require a degree of emotional vulnerability to be expressed. Despite all of the issues that are encompassed in those feelings, the best course of action is to address whatever blocks a man from “giving himself permission” to be vulnerable in the first place.
The place to begin is with the Critical Voice in our heads that I wrote about in my previous blog post.
Yes, it’s not easy to quiet the Critical Voice long enough to get a grip on what is really going on in our lives. But that is why it is also really important to learn how to quiet our minds long enough to let ourselves feel what is in our hearts.
If, however, we stay “in our heads”, the Critical Voice will emerge and talk us out of being vulnerable enough to figure out how we are feeling.
The reason this is so important is that it is almost impossible for us to determine what we really need as long as we stay in our heads. The logic of our mind will instead convince us that what we feel is not important.
Once we know what we are feeling, we can use that piece of information to figure out THE THING WE DON’T HAVE THAT WE NEED in order to feel better.
As we get better and better at doing that, we build confidence in knowing how to take better care of ourselves.
Over the course of the next five blog posts, I will take each of these five challenges one at a time and outline the best way for men to face each challenge.
See you next time for When Men Feel Scared!