The influence of America’s masculine culture begins as early as age 4, where boys are already tracking what emotions and behaviors are necessary to fit in as modeled by their peers, siblings, teachers, and parents. Boys are taught to suppress, hide or deny emotions to demonstrate strength and thereby acceptance.
However, it is through the expression of emotions that relationship is born and developed. Expressing emotions is essential to connect with other humans. Emotions are born, revealed and recognized in those relationships. Sadly the primary message boys receive is to suppress, hide, deny or stifle emotional expression. Although boys have and feel emotions deeply, they learn early not to show, express or talk about them.
So how do we change this?
By educating, equipping and encouraging men to learn recognized emotions and feelings as a strength, not weakness. Coaching them how to turn up the volume. Men deny, suppress or hide their emotions which mean that all those emotions are still present, but suppressed. This will take time, patience and attention. It can be done. Moreover, as men learn to recognize, express and affirm emotions in others and themselves, their relationships will take on a new depth and intimacy. The emotional expression created social connections thwarts loneliness and isolation.
Researchers shared that it’s through the expression of emotions that relationships are born and developed. Expressing emotions is essential to connection. Emotions are often born, revealed and recognized in relationships where both feel free to share what they are feeling, without the need to fix or feel weak. All boys have and feel emotions deeply; they learned early not to show, express or talk about them. Therefore men can and will need to “re-learn,” the language of emotions.
One way is to identify ten healthy emotions/feelings out of the categories listed below that promote connection and relationships.
Happy: pleased, glad, wonderful, elated, excited, content. surprised. proud, relieved, satisfied, confident
Frightened: uneasy. weak, insecure, anxious, nervous, scared, threatened, trapped
Negative:distrustful, suspicious, bitter, stupid, shame, worthless
Positive: determined, forgiving, hopeful, motivated, inspired, daring, energetic, loving, eager, excited, receptive
Unhappy: hurt, upset, lonely, guilty, miserable, despairing, devastated, lost, down
Upset: angry, frustrated, sad, tearful, hurt, miserable, weepy
Confused: upset, lonely, inadequate, cross, miserable, shocked, mixed-up, nervous, scared, discontented, foolish
Using those ten emotions focus on how family, friends, colleagues, and co-worker express each of these emotions. The following questions will guide your focus.
- What emotion or feeling did you sense from the other person?
- What was going on at the time they expressed this feeling or emotion?
- What prompted you to recognize this emotion, was it their words, the tone of their voice, their facial expression, body language or did they specifically talk about the emotion they were feeling?
- How did their feelings affect you? Did you feel uncomfortable? Is so why?
- Were you at all; empathetic, indifferent or confused?
- How did other people around them respond to their feelings/ emotions?
- How did you respond to their emotions/feelings?
- What would you do differently if that situation happened again?
The good news is that both boys and men do have a depth of emotions and feelings, but lack the freedom to express or recognize them. In my next blog, I share ways to turn up the volume, helping you to recognize, affirm and express the emotions and feeling critical to developing healthy intimate relationships.
I hope today’s blog has encouraged you. Make sure you sign up to receive blogs posted every Tuesday and Thursday. TransformingFamilies.org resources are designed to guide you through the restoration process of developing your heart, mind, and strength, enabling you to become the man God created you to be.
I also provide one-on-one coaching, if you want to improve your relationships, let’s connect through e-mail at ‘firstname.lastname@example.org’. My hope for you is that through these blogs, references, and resources, God will transform you from being bruised or broken to an abundantly blessed man.