Last night, my lovely wife and I stayed up and had a long conversation about guys and emotions. I talked from my perspective. She talked from her perspective. We both would say that it was very enlightening. I also learned something in the process:
I love to talk about emotions.
I know. I’m weird. At least that’s what culture would like you to think.
I grew up in an emotionally healthy home. My parents provided a safe place to talk about what I was feeling. They helped me identify those feelings and be specific about expressing them. I was never told to man-up, not to cry or commanded to “get over it.” I was encouraged to feel, express and try to understand what I was feeling.
My earliest memory of this was the day I came home from school, upset that some boys I wanted to play with weren’t playing with me. So, I declared to my mom;
“They don’t want to play with me.”
Her response was unavoidable:
“Is that what they said, or is that what you’re choosing to believe?”
Of course, it’s not what they said, but in that moment I recognized, at a very young age that I was feeling rejection for some reason and I assumed that statement to be true. But it wasn’t true. My moms paradigm changing question helped me identify what I was feeling and then empowered me to choose to believe differently.
Being able to identify what you’re feeling and the ability to express it, is a gift. It’s helped me in my marriage, as a dad, in management, understanding bosses, dissecting culture, understanding strengths and weaknesses, and the list could go on.
Because I’m a guy, I understand that emotions aren’t something that all of us are able and/or willing to talk about. I also wonder, is this really true or is it part of the guy stereotype?
Just like my mom asked me, I ask of guys and girls:
Do guys actually say they don’t want to talk about their emotions, or do we simply assume that they can’t or won’t?
I just wonder, are guys being let off the emotional hook easier than we should be?
Do you agree with anything that I’ve said? Am I wrong to assume that the cultural paradigm of men is that we’re emotionally stunted, at-best? What is your experience?