This article was first published on LinkedIn
I wanted to write about this subject because it is an important one.
We men have being conditioned to believe that it is a sign of weakness to express our feelings. ‘Men don’t cry’ is the message that we are taught from a young age. However, often it is even more subtle then that.
When a young boy is upset you will often hear his father say that very statement to him or perhaps something like ‘big boys don’t cry’. The young boy wants to let go of a deeply disturbing emotion from within him but his father is either embarrassed by this incident or his own emotions are triggered and it feels unpleasant for him to sit with his son.
What do these words do? They condition his son to suppress his emotions. This energy stays within the young boy’s body and affects everything he does. It hinders his perception and obscures his ability to see the world with clarity. Of course it is not his father’s fault because he does not know any better. He is under a deeply conditioned mind-set himself. He also learnt to suppress his own emotions from his father and the world around him.
Over time, the young boy begins to believe that crying is a sign of weakness and as a result he now begins to suppress his own emotions. Now he does not need the help of his father. However, he doesn’t just suppress tears. He suppresses all negative emotions and sometimes even the positive ones. By the time he is a young man he is full of this negative energy and is completely unaware of how it affects all his relationships and ability to work.
The male suicide rate in the UK is 3.5 times higher than that of women. The reason, I believe, is the suppression of feelings, emotions and the beliefs that accompany them. It is OK for women to cry but as things stand for men this is looked upon as a sign of weakness. My point of view is that it should be looked upon as a sign of strength. Anyone, male or female, who has faced and sat with their emotions agrees that it took a great amount of strength to do this.
A friend of mine told me recently that he did not cry for over 15 years. After discovering the benefits of releasing his emotions he told me that everything in his life changed. He has released such a huge weight from his shoulders and now gets on better with everyone. His business has improved and he feels a renewed sense of vigour towards his life. Only when he was brave enough to face his feelings did he come out the other end a different person.
I did not cry at my father’s funeral because at the time I felt very uncomfortable showing this side of myself in front of my family. I remember looking around and seeing all the men in the room quite stern-faced. Not one of them was crying. The women on the other-hand were letting the tears flow. I remember thinking that I wanted to cry but there was a part of me that felt if I showed this side of myself, I would be seen as weak. Hence I held back. It was only 4 months later during a 10 day meditation retreat that I was able to finally let go.
Facing our feelings is not about playing the victim. It is about taking responsibility and creating the kind of life we have always dreamed of. Just imagine what the world would look like if all men faced their feelings and let them go in a safe, meditative way.