As I shared in part 1 of this blog, the influence of America’s masculine culture begins as early as age 4 when 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 acceptance.
However, through the expression of emotions, relationships are born and developed. Expressing feelings is essential to connecting with other humans. Emotions are born, revealed, and recognized in those relationships. Sadly, boys’ primary message 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?
Educating, equipping, and encouraging men to learn recognized emotions and feelings are strengths, not weaknesses. We can help them do this by coaching them on how to turn up the volume. Men deny, suppress, or hide their emotions which means that all those emotions are still present but suppressed. Learning to turn up the volume will take time, patience, and attention, but it can be done. Moreover, as men learn to recognize, express, and affirm emotions in others and themselves, their relationships will become more intimate. The emotional expression creates social connections and thwarts loneliness and isolation.
Researchers shared that through the expression of emotions, relationships are born and developed. Expressing feelings 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 learn 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 that promote connection and relationships out of the categories listed below.
Happy: pleased, glad, incredible, elated, excited, content, surprised, proud, relieved, satisfied, confident
Frightened: uneasy. weak, insecure, anxious, nervous, scared, threatened, trapped
Negative: distrustful, suspicious, bitter, stupid, shameful, 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, disappointed, foolish
Using those ten emotions focuses on how family, friends, colleagues, and co-workers express 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, tone of voice, 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? If 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 have a depth of emotions and feelings but lack the freedom to express or recognize them. In upcoming blogs, I will continue to share ways to turn up the volume, helping you identify, affirm, and express the emotions and feelings 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.
Want to help Ukrainian Families?
Here are some organizations providing humanitarian resources for the thousands of refugees fleeing the war in Ukraine.