The E Word
One of our greatest shortcomings as men is our inability to express, process, or deal with emotions. We know two emotions: passion and anger. The depth of the human experience is lived through the vast spectrum of emotion, each eliciting a different set of responses and lessons. Our female counterparts are often blamed for being too emotional, but I believe that it’s precisely their ability to intuit and live through their emotions that they’re able to live more fully alive.
I think that men downplay our emotions because of how we believe that we will be perceived. We’ve been told that emotions are a sign of weakness or that they cloud our judgement. As a result, we’ve come to believe in two types of emotion, good and bad. The problem with marginalizing those emotions that we consider to be “bad” is that they may be telling us something that’s either untrue or they may be attempting to share a lesson that we need to learn.
I’ve been working on being more perceptive as I approach the end of my second year as a stay-at-home dad. I work, yes, but my primary daily responsibility is the care of our children and our home. Benedict is always happy, energetic, and engaging when other people are around, but during the day when its just he and I, I oftentimes won’t get that same level of energy and expression. That makes me feel like he’s bored with me and so I perceive myself feeling the emotions of inadequacy, failure, and disappointment. When I vocalize those feelings to Alison, she reassures me by sharing her knowledge of personalities, toddler behavior, and human growth.
Consider if instead of processing those emotions, I internalized them. Those feelings of inadequacy, the most baleful and dangerous that a man can experience, would gnaw at me to the point of obsession. While I’d be sidelining those emotions, I’d likely become more cold, distant, and cutoff from Benedict resulting in a less vibrant relationship. Over time, it would be incredibly destructive, all over emotions that were both unprocessed and based on a falsehood.
This is what’s at stake when we fail to embrace who we are a humans and live through the emotions that we experience. Emotions drive behavior whether we deal with them or not. Although we may not be as perceptive as our female counterparts, we can perceive if we’re sensitive to how the day’s events impact us. The beauty of marriage is that we have a safe place to express our emotions, to get an outside opinion, and perhaps even advice on how to proceed.
Emotions are not the enemy, failure to process them is. Be connected to who you are and live more vibrantly in harmony with your emotions.