It is true that men have lost their transparency. We have lost touch with our feelings and this disconnect is made apparent in our bodies. In this headless and heartless state we have lost what it means to be vulnerable, what it means to be emotional, what it means to be in touch with our innermost self – masculine femininity.
Recognise women are our greatest teachers, in fact they have always encouraged us to accept our emotions for what they are in order to develop completeness in our character and psyche. It is only when we learn to recognise our most desperate fears and insecurities as opportunities, rather than for shame and oppression, will we have taken the first steps towards developing a stronger version of ourselves.
Let me start with my transparency. I’m 5’7 – 2 inches below average for the typical male across the world. Naturally, this has been an insecurity for me in the past; reflecting on this now I know I used to associate lack of height with low sexual market value and social value. I mean women love tall, dark and handsome right?
As a teenager I convinced myself that due to an uncontrollable physical trait, that my potential for happiness with attractive, loving and intelligent women was finite. Social anxiety had been a reality for me.
But, you see I figured it out – it’s the stories we tell ourselves, the irrational, incessant internal dialogue that has no hold on us in physical reality.
Make no mistake, we are all so gifted in this regard and we have all suffered at the bane of our thoughts and emotions. However, a large majority of men are denied the first resource to be able to step away from emotional repression; this is the gift that we can learn to receive from in all the women of our lives – expression.
What’s the opposite of expression – depression? Needless to say this is a huge concern for a lot of men and women, because this epidemic of emotional repression can have a cascading effect on mental health. However, my only role here is to help you recognise these manifestations in your body.
When you ignore an emotional thought you inhibit a natural response; when you choose repression, you will find that the body will create unconscious actions where you have not made the decision to make your feelings made in reality. So, for example, let’s take all of our social anxiety or any kind of anxiety. The body will create compensations for lack of acceptance and this may be made apparent through behaviour such avoiding social events and creating excuses not to see people – flakes some people call them.
What about when these social situations are unavoidable, maybe you meet someone new at work. Next time you do, I’d like to invite you to bring your attention inside the body and be very attentive to internal feelings – here are some questions I’d invite you to consider:
- Being mindful of your posture and how you are standing. Are you open? Are your arms crossed over your chest? Or are your shoulders rounded and closed? Is your body turning away from the conversation?
- Next notice your breathing, can you breathe deep into your belly? Or is your breath shallow are erratic – are you feeling restricted in your ability to expand your ribcage?
- Notice anxiety through by where you are feeling muscle tension – are you hands balled tight, is your jaw clenched or can you sense stiffness in your neck?
- Perhaps you get the sensation of heat through flushes in the skin when you are directly addressed, your throat is dry and your hands are clammy. I used to feel this nervous energy deep in the pit my belly – like my intestines were knotted together.
- What about your behaviour in these environments. For example, do you have a need to drink or use substances to get through social events, I mean think of the term social smokers – It’s literally in the name, I need to smoke in order socialise in that given situation.
Simply put your body has developed physical and behavioural adaptations as a result of emotional repression – your body is letting you know and feel this, maybe it’s time to listen.
Men can learn from women when looking for the first steps away from suppression. Most women are naturally more in touch with their emotions; in groups they communicate a lot about their personal life and feelings – they know their closest friends mental states better than anyone. I believe this is because biologically women have to give birth to children and therefore have a natural proclivity towards altruism. It is in this selflessness that our mothers, sisters and closest friends can not only teach us how to open and express our minds, but to feel safe and secure in our ability to share our vulnerabilities.
Moving forward, some of you will have have had experience with catharsis. Now catharsis is a release of emotional energy in the form of somatic action (relating to the body). This may include any form of physical expression such as activities in sport, dance, music and art. Anything that will bring you out of the internal dialogue of your head and back into the body – the present moment. An example I often give is the shift in action after a break up, you may find yourself doing something you’ve never done before to escape your head by going to the gym.
But how did I do it?! So, when height did become the the topic of conversation and my mind played that broken record of my sexual market value; I would notice the symptoms of the reaction to that thought in my body. Dry mouth, hot skin, tight jaw and clenched fists. Then I had another thought. A rational thought. My mind and my emotions had identified with something that doesn’t exist. It is all a story. Breathe. Unclench your jaw and loosen your grip, unteach your body in these moments as you learn to let go.
Here’s the fun part – teach yourself a new story. A better story. Something that will lighten the situation at hand and make you feel more in touch with who you are – not what you think you are. A social rebuttal! Well, I mean, like I said before, ladies and gentlemen, I may not be tall, dark and handsome. But I am dark and handsome, and 2 out of 3 is good enough for me.
So let me ask an open question to you reader – what stories are you currently telling yourself?
Because maybe you can tell a better one.