Hey before I get into the topic today, I want to thank everyone for listening. Last Wednesday was the biggest day we have ever had here at Being A Better Man; over 1130 of you listened to the show that day. The previous record was set back in March with 1102. Actually listenership has been up every day the last couple weeks and it’s all because of you guys out there listening, so thank you from the bottom of my heart.
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Ok, so the last episode, number 113 was called Best Friends…it was kind of a tear jerker. Not all stories can be happy and funny, some of them need to be sad because thats how life is, and we are talking about life after all right.
It was an emotional story for me too, you could probably tell…I had to take a couple breaks while I was recording it because it conjures up a lot of very real, very powerful emotions for me. Thats kind of what I want to talk about today. The difference between sharing authentic emotions in a manly way, as opposed to the unsolicited flagrant display of your weaknesses as a man. One of these works, and one doesn’t…that’s what I’m going to talk about.
As human animals we are all endowed with emotions, they are necessary for our survival just like our intellect, and our physical bodies are, they are part of the equation. There is a wide range of emotions too; fear, anger, love, hate, joy and sadness to name a few.
Of these…some are thought of to be perfectly fine for a boy or man to display, while others are frowned upon. I reject that theory, I always have. To me it always made sense that I was intended to use all the things I was given. In my way of thinking, to deny an emotion is the same as denying hunger, or thirst, or any other need I might have.
As a result, I’m kind of an emotional guy. I am moved to happiness and joy quite easily, I am also moved to tears pretty quickly. However, 90% of the time when I am moved to tears it is because I am profoundly happy. I am touched positively in such a way that my body can’t contain my emotions, like when my children were born for example, and that is when I cry tears of joy. Likewise, when I experience great, sudden, and tragic loss I might cry…like in last Wednesday’s story, or when my dog Adrienne died last year, but these instances are few and far between…they are the exception. But they are all authentic, emotional responses.
I never cried from physical pain, not even as a child. I would yell and scream, but I wouldn’t cry. And it doesn’t make sense to me either, crying from physical pain…because that is a physical thing, and crying is an emotional response.
To me this whole idea that crying in itself is synonymous with weakness is just stupid. At some point in the development of our culture the idea took hold that men should not show their emotions. My fathers generation, and his fathers before him lived by this rule, and guess what it got them? A lower life expectancy than women. It’s not healthy to bottle all that stuff up and deny portions of your human expression, and those emotions always find a way out regardless…maybe in another form like rage, or hate, or anger and aggression.
In short, my opinion is that men who try to swallow or deny certain emotions and unconsciously replace them with others are living a life that is out of balance, and unhealthy.
So that is one side of the coin. On the other side are guys who abuse the privilege. Rather than share a genuine, emotional response they are the ones who indulge in the flagrant display of every weakness they have. I find it appalling, because that is not the behavior of a man…it’s the behavior of a child. Men who engage in this behavior on social media or elsewhere are, in my opinion, doing it for the sake of sympathy, attention, or as a means of manipulation, just like a child…and it is not very manly at all.
It can be a fine line, but there is a difference between, for example, informing your friends on Facebook of a tragic or joyful event in your life, because they are your friends and they would want to know…or, whining about how hard your day was and how mean your boss is, or how angry traffic makes you, or you stubbed your toe on the coffee table, or how another friend disrespected you, or how unhappy you are with your weight, how lonely you are, etcetera, etcetera, on and on…who cares? Boo hoo!!
These are all things you should be figuring out how to deal with and improve as a man, rather than seek the sympathy and condolence of others in the form of likes on social media. Do you see the difference between authentic emotions and sympathetic pandoring?
Everyone wants the men in their life to be strong, stable examples of manhood. We men are the force that bring a sense of peace and safety to those around us. But a man can admit he is afraid without being a sniveling coward in the corner…by countering fear with courage and doing what he needs to do in spite of it. Expressing an emotion does not automatically make you a slave to it.
A man can admit to experiencing grief, and cry without becoming incapacitated and non-functional.
I have a big problem with guys actively looking for sympathy. Sympathy is not an emotion expressed by yourself, rather, it is an emotion extracted from other people. In order to gain someone else’ sympathy we have to engage their emotional spectrum and drag them into whatever drama we are experiencing…and that, in my opinion is the opposite of sharing your strength, there isn’t anything masculine about it.
As men I think we should embrace our emotional sides, and be expressive, but we need to do so responsibly. Just because we are having an emotion doesn’t mean we are not still a man, subject to the responsibilities of our manhood.
For example, I don’t want the people I care about to be sad, so I would share my sadness in a way that they respect and understand. Like when my mother died I posted about it, but it wasn’t a “poor me I lost my Mommy” post, it was a “How lucky I was to have known such a great woman post”…see the difference? As men we have to be responsible, I think, for how our emotions will affect others.
It all goes back to the basic message of truly knowing yourself, because that will help you find that balance. The better you know yourself the more capacity you will have to be the best man you can be in all areas.
Hey guys, if you got something out of this episode do me a favor and share it with a friend, its really easy to do from my Facebook page, you just click on share… Help me get the word out, thank you.
Now head out into the big world, and don’t be afraid to embrace your emotions, but consider those around you, be responsible for your own emotional footprint and find a way to do so that instills respect, rather than sympathy. Do that, and you will be a better man today, than you were yesterday.
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