The common belief is that women have a greater capacity to feel than men.
Don’t buy into this belief!
I know from working with men and sitting in many men’s groups that men have the same potential as women to feel into themselves and express their feelings. The main reason that society believes that men cannot feel and express their feelings as women can is this: –
Because nobody taught us how to do it properly as a man!
During the evolution of humans through history the innate capacity for men to feel and express their emotions has simply been supressed. Society over time has taught us to wear a mask of invincibility, a mask of pride, false toughness, and often a false niceness. And we are born into a society believing that we as men simply just don’t have the same capacity as women to express our deepest emotions.
In recent generations we have been taught to play safe, to stay small, to be careful, not to show our vulnerable side, our feeling side, and our empathic qualities. As kids when we are told: ‘be quiet’, don’t shout’, ‘stop showing off’, ‘stop laughing’, ‘stop complaining’, ‘stop climbing’, ‘stop fighting’, etc. We simply lost or suppressed our innate capacity to openly express ourselves in order to please our parents and teachers.
Additionally, since most of us have been raised predominantly by women in society, because our fathers and grandfathers were not there for us physically or emotionally, we have been taught to express our emotions by women, which simply involves being sensitive and nice. Our real capacity to express our emotions as a man, our innate wild side, has been severely suppressed. We haven’t been taught to express emotions healthily, including aggression as men and by men.
It’s time to forgive mum and dad, time to realise that new habits can be created just as the old ones were, and time to realise that what we choose to believe will create the path for our future.
This belief that we cannot feel into our emotions and express them in a safe, direct, and harmonious way is a huge obstacle for many men in society today. I know of men who have never been able to tell their sons that they love them and men who didn’t even feel love for their wives on their wedding day. The belief that many people carry with them, mostly women, is that we as men are not feminine enough. We have lost touch with our feminine side.
I encourage all men to drop this belief that we need to be more feminine and that we cannot feel and express our emotions as men.
We, as men have walked around for far too long with suppressed emotions like a sleeping volcano that could erupt anytime when the heat and pressure inside becomes too strong. We have walked the earth pretending that everything’s perfect, wearing a cloak of courage, trying to be nice, worrying what others think, lying to please others, staying quiet not to offend people, and wearing a mask of false invincibility. This suppression often leads to rage and violence in the world.
This has to stop!
The first step is not to embrace our feminine side as we are often told to, although at some stage there may be some merit in this. No, the first step in my opinion and also the view of many pioneers in the men’s movement such as Robert Bly, Sam keen, John Eldridge, and too many others to mention is to re-learn how to feel and express our deepest emotions as men, with men, as in ancient times. To reconnect with other men as brothers and spend meaningful time together. In my experience an excellent way for this to happen is through men’s groups and men’s circles. And, it takes consistent practice to reveal its magic.
My personal experience is that when I’m involved in meaningful men’s groups, when I can be vulnerable as a man amongst men, and talk openly and expressively amongst men, my interactions with my partner are more grounded and my communication with her at these times is much more precise and direct, which she greatly appreciates. I also find that when I’m not involved in these conscious men’s groups, maybe because I have to travel or do some work in professional sport, I find that my connection with my partner and the way we communicate is not as effective. Resultantly, I tend to be more unstable and tense with my decision making.
By the way, I do feel that connecting with men through sports can be done consciously but in most cases it’s not what I would say conscious connection. But you’ll have to wait for that article, which is coming soon.
Let me be clear here!
When I say conscious men’s groups I don’t mean connecting with men via the normal methods of drinking alcohol together in the pub, going to the gym, or watching sport together, although I’m not saying these cannot be made into conscious practices. I’m talking about connection with men where there is a purpose, a desire to evolve as men, a willingness to listen without judgement, and a space created where men can openly communicate and express their strengths and perceived limitations in life. The best way, although not the only way, in my experience, for this to occur is once again through men’s circles.
My own partner is not telling me to reconnect with my feminine side. She’s not telling me to go and dance three times per week, although I do value the joy of dancing. No, she openly encourages me as much as I can to connect with men and form my own men’s groups.
Why? – Because she can then feel the benefit in my ability to express my emotions to her. If as men we can express our emotions with other men then expressing our emotions with women becomes easy. For her, I actually embrace my feminine side, if that’s what you want to call it, much more when I reconnect with men on deep levels.
Once the reconnection with other men on a deeper level takes place then there are other things a man can do to enhance his capacity to feel into his emotions and express them if desired.
One important practice is to reconnect and feel into your body more. Nobody taught us that our body is a Divine vehicle for life and, unfortunately, as small boys many of us were told that it was wrong to touch our bodies and pleasure ourselves. This has led to a life for many of sexual suppression and abuse of the physical body (e.g. poor food choice, drugs, alcohol, inactivity, etc). So, it’s important to make peace with our body and with our genitals. This takes practice, it involves letting go of false beliefs given to us by others.
This requires a commitment to step through fears.
The other reason we are disconnect from our bodies is because society teaches us to remain focused in the head, in our minds. It all starts with our educational system that teaches us the art of thinking and intellectual problem solving almost exclusively at the expense of learning how to feel and intuitively make decisions. Additionally, the ever expanding world of technology keeps us constantly in our heads. This disconnect from our bodies has led to a world of chronic stress, and mental illness is constantly on the rise.
In essence, because we spend so much time in our heads we have lost a deep and important connection with the intuitive knowledge and wisdom of our hearts. Recently, scientists at HeartMath, an organisation researching into heart-brain communication have found that the heart is made up of brain cells, yes brain cells. Therefore, we have two brains, not one. In fact, we have more than two brains, but that’s for another article! Scientists found that the heart has the capacity to intuit situations before they even happen and in many cases the heart sends a message to the brain to function, not the other way around.
In most men heart to brain communication is dysfunctional because we don’t know how to reconnect with our hearts. It is a zone of emptiness and many of us are scared to go there. If we cannot feel our hearts and understand the message of the heart, then it proves very difficult to love ourselves as men.
There are many ways for men to reconnect with the wisdom of the heart and it’s not the aim of this article to go into detail. I encourage you to do your own research. However, some simple practices that I recommend are heart focused meditations from traditions such as Tibetan Buddhism, Christianity, and Sufism. The practice of Tonglen is highly recommended. It is also extremely beneficial to simply sit in silence and bring your awareness into your heart as much as possible throughout the day or simply close the eyes and breath into your heart centre. Again, it requires consistent practice for real progress.
So thanks for reading this far into the article.
I encourage you all to reconnect with your fellow brothers. Embrace your masculinity together, share your fears, your dreams, your light and your darkness. The capacity to feel more into your emotions and express them more harmoniously in a safe way lies in how you connect with your fellow brothers. If you can love another man deeply and express your vulnerable side to him with both sensitivity and directness, then it becomes easy with women too.
Are you ready to make the change?
Amazing article, thanks Craig!