Being a man
The other day, my Aunty shared a statistic with me that, in Australia, 75% of those who commit suicide are young males; over 2,000 young men take their own lives each year. She further mentioned that a lot of this occurs because men feel the need to hide their honest feelings and that they feel ridiculed if they were to cry or show emotion.
This must stop! The age has come where men need to become more balanced and the macho stereotype needs to be broken.
Stop crying like a girl.
Take a tablespoon of concrete and harden up.
Stop being soft.
Be a real man.
Does any of that sound familiar? Many males have heard this at one point or another because of societal expectations and patriarchal views. As a result, this has been ingrained into our culture and into the minds of many males.
At camp, I watched young men transitioning through a critical time in their lives. Most of the time they were so preoccupied with trying to show how “cool” they were to their mates just to fit in. This normally involved diminishing another’s self-worth, sharing inflated stories in the hopes of impressing those around, and, a big one, acting tough by showing no emotion to anything that might be perceived as “weak” or “soft”. This is not dissimilar to what is seen from guys in their 20s and beyond, just with a few more detailed stories and many more beers.
There are many important aspects to being a well-rounded male, but I think the most important part is to be balanced. Cutting straight to the point, most men do not like to acknowledge how they feel, nor are they good at expressing it.
Men, it is time for us to own it and start feeling.
Better control over what we are feeling helps build a solid, healthy, expressive foundation. This allows us not to feel stuck and powerless in our emotions, but to begin to communicate them more clearly to those around us.
I feel very fortunate to have grown up in a house that has been a safe space for my brother, sister and me to be expressive with our feelings, though it’s something I am constantly working on.
I recently caught up with my ex-girlfriend, my first real love, for the first time since a hard break-up two years ago. After catching up in the morning, I was feeling quite weird; the meeting had thrown me off my center a little, and as a result, I was feeling quite low and reserved. I was with my family for the afternoon and it made me very short and distant with them through no fault of their own. Because they didn’t know how or why I felt that way, they took it personally. Mum, being the angel that she is, knew what was happening and came over to sit next to me. She gently reminded me that I needed to communicate to the family the way I was feeling so that:
1. They could understand why I was acting that way
2. They could be there to support
Like most of the time, she was right. I explained to my dad and brother why I had been behaving as I was; they shared that they wondered why I had been so moody, but also understood and knew it couldn’t have been easy. They offered some encouragement and advice, but best of all made sure I knew that they were there if I wanted to discuss it further.
Guys, I’m not saying to sit in a circle, hold hands. and share our feelings.
I am saying that it is time to be “man” enough to get out of your comfort zone and start to acknowledge your feelings. Express your feelings so they are not bottled up and weighing like a ton of bricks on your shoulders.
If you feel angry, sad, frustrated, then express it safely. Go and scream into a pillow, belt the hell out of a boxing bag, cry, talk to someone. Anything- just get it out!
When we allow ourselves to feel and to release our negative emotions, we, in fact, strengthen our ability to get on with life. When we oppress our feelings, we feel powerless and weak. I guarantee you that you will feel a whole lot better without that tight, twisted knot in your stomach. If the stigma to be tough and invincible was already broken, then some of those 2,000 young men might have felt safe to express their emotions and still be alive today
You are no less of a man in sharing that you are struggling with something and that you need help. You are, in fact, more of one for choosing to take responsibility for yourself, your relationships, how you feel, and the way you want to show up in the world.
Love and Light