Wednesday, March 6, 2013

To Be A Man: Feelings

“That’s IT! I've had it with you and your emotional constipation!”  - Tantor the elephant from Disney’s Tarzan (the cartoon with those awesome Phil Collins’ songs).
Talking about your ”feelings” is seen as a “girly” thing to do. Boys aren’t supposed to cry or be involved with activities where they express their feelings. Instead of talking about feelings guys are supposed to “deal with them” internally and not make a big deal about it. And like medical constipation, emotional constipation if sustained, for long periods of time causes damage and makes guys very difficult to live with.

Now the other extreme, emotional diarrhea has issues as well. People who are constantly talking about their feelings, live melodramatically and are also very challenging deal with.

There is a happy medium here (I’m going to stop it with the gastrological metaphor here because I’m not sure what Metamucil represents). Here’s some tips to find this balance:

Allow yourself to feel your emotions: If you are mad, be mad. Let yourself be mad and feel it. Never fight your emotions or the way that you feel. Even if your feelings seem illogical, don’t fight it. Experience your feelings; give yourself time to feel them and when you are ready to move on, let them go.

Tell people how you feel: If you feel frustrated at a friend, tell them. You don’t have to completely unpack the feeling when you first bring them up, but let people know how you feel. People aren’t mind readers. Don’t expect people to “know how you are feeling,” or be able to infer your emotions because of something they did.

Ask for help: Nobody is strong enough or mature enough to know how to handle his or her emotions alone. We are not born with the tools to “deal” with our emotions. There are skills, techniques and understandings about human nature that we need to learn about to be emotionally healthy. We learn these things from loved ones and professional therapists. If you were constipated for a week, you’d seek help, so you own it to yourself to seek help if you are an emotional wreck for a period of time.

There are a lot of guys who believe and prescribe to these socially constructed ideas about the ways that guys are suppose to handle emotion.

Everyone is tired of those guys.

Men have come to realize that dealing with emotion takes strength.  Being honest and open with the people in our lives leads to more fulfilling and meaningful relationships.  To not feel and express emotion honestly is to not live life to its fullest.

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