This excellent article was kindly written for Mr Perfect by Dr Scott Zarcinas. (you can find out more about Scott at the bottom of this article).
Men, do you have a problem talking?
I don’t mean talking about how your footy team went over the weekend, or how the Aussie cricket team will do in the Ashes.
I also don’t mean how much you talk on the job or in the office to your boss or colleagues.
I’m talking about communication. Real communication.
The kind of communication that lets others understand how you’re feeling. The kind of communication that solidifies the relationship you have between you and your friends, you and your partner, and you and your family.
The kind of communication that makes you vulnerable.
Yes, the ‘V’ word: vulnerability.
Women, and yes, I’m generalising, have a more balanced approach to vulnerability. On the whole, they know how to deal with it better than men. They know that talking and communicating with their friends, partner and family is an antidote to the awkward and destabilising feelings of vulnerability.
They know that communication is a great strength with which they can use to adapt to whatever life throws at them, a strength with which they can take on the world and keep mentally and physically fresh.
Men, on the other hand, hate feeling vulnerable.
They see it as a weakness, and weakness is not something a man should admit to, should he?
Which is why they won’t talk about their feelings. They don’t want to look weak, especially to another man. So they put up their barriers and keep it all to themselves.
Keeping it to themselves is what little boys are taught to do when they’re growing up. They’re taught not to show emotion. They’re taught not to show pain.
We tell them, and we are told ourselves: “Boys don’t cry!” “Pick yourself up and get on with it.” “Don’t be a girl!”
Yet the sins of the father are invariably passed onto the son. Our grandfathers suffered it. Our fathers suffered it. We have suffered it. And our boys are suffering the same fate.
In perpetuating this attitude of ‘boys don’t cry’ and ‘be a man’, we neglect to teach our boys to examine their feelings and emotions. Instead, we teach them to ignore their feelings and emotions. We teach them to push their feelings and emotions to one side, to not talk about them, to keep them hidden and out of view.
Which is why men hate feeling vulnerable—because they’ve never been given the opportunity to learn how to deal with the emotion.
But as Brené Brown writes in her bestselling book, Rising Strong: The Reckoning, The Rumble, The Revolution (2015):
“Vulnerability is not winning or losing; it's having the courage to show up and be seen when we have no control over the outcome. Vulnerability is not weakness; it's our greatest measure of courage.”
As a man, are you able look with a different perspective and see vulnerability as a measure of courage?
Are you able to push through the discomfort of feeling vulnerable, to resist the urge to shove the emotion aside and begin to examine how you feel?
Are you able to go to the next step and talk about it with your partner, your friends, your children?
Because when you face your vulnerability front on, that’s true courage.
Ignoring or suppressing your emotions is actually a weakness. It’s the failure to confront the issue at hand. Worse, it can cause physical and mental health issues if left unchecked.
The problem with emotions is that they build if they’re not expressed and released. All emotions need an outlet. When left unchecked an unexpressed, they can build to a point in which you explode in anger and rage. When this happens, you can do great harm to others and yourself, harm you may regret for the rest of your life.
Or the emotions express themselves more insidiously as physical ailments: headaches, chest pain, choking sensations, constipation, impotence, fatigue, and muscle and joint complaints.
Or they present as mental health issues: stress, anxiety, worry, depression, anorexia, irrational fear.
Now, if you’re experiencing any of these physical and mental health symptoms, get on the phone and make an appointment with your GP today. Don’t wait. It’s important to get medical advice and treatment.
The trap is to turn to alcohol, drugs, and pain medication, to try and release the emotional pressure. But these Band Aid measures invariably don’t work. All that happens is you wake up the next morning with your problems still there in bed with you, only now you have to face them with a grinding hangover. Or you get addicted, which is worse.
So the only real prescription with long-term benefits is to face your emotions and try to understand them. Which takes courage. There’s no point running away from your emotions because you can’t run away from yourself. No matter where you are in the world, you are always there.
Which includes your vulnerability.
So maybe it’s time to face your feelings of being vulnerable with courage and bravery, like women do.
Maybe it’s time to let your boys have a cry and be more like a girl.
Maybe it’s time to talk about how you feel.
Your physical and mental health will benefit from it.
Dr. Scott Zarcinas (aka DoctorZed) is a doctor, author, and transformologist. He helps aspirational people to be happier, more confident, decisive, and effective so they can reach their potential and become the person they are capable of being. He specialises in helping work-at-home fathers build their self-esteem and self-belief so they have the confidence and the courage to live a life that is true to themself. DoctorZed gives regular workshops, seminars, presentations, and courses to support those who want to make a positive difference through positive action. Connect with him at:
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