When you think of ‘manly’ emotions, what do you imagine? Is it fatherly love? Loyalty, trust, honor, and compassion? Or do you think of anger, rage, the ‘right to be right’, sarcasm, or jealousy?
In America, at this point in time, there is a very short list of ‘approved’ male emotions. Men are allowed to be angry, but not vulnerable. They are allowed to be ambitious and self-serving, but not nurturing. How can anyone truly thrive when being held to such narrow standards that work against everything that Life is supposed to be?
As coaches, we share with our clients that Life is composed of love, joy, inspiration, creativity, and expansion. There’s nothing inherent, or even natural, about living a life that is rooted in anger or fear. None of us are born that way, but we learn to be that way.
There is a ‘Chain of Pain’ that connects members of the newest generation to the dysfunction and self-sabotaging habits of their parents and grandparents. Somewhere along the line, we started teaching our sons that anger was acceptable, while certain expressions of love were not. As a result, men grow up feeling isolation, worthlessness, and a deep longing for the kinds of relationships that can only come from unconditional love.
Gillette ran an ad not long ago that stirred a lot of debate and controversy. The ad showed clips of a boy being chased through the street by a pack of other boys, until a father intervenes while his son watches. The ad urged men to abandon the excuse of ‘boys will be boys’ for violent and exploitative behavior, and adds the tagline ‘we believe in the best in men.’ Some men reacted with anger to this ad, as though they felt threatened by its message. When we feel threatened, it indicates that a vulnerability is in danger of being exposed. Vulnerability may come as a result of the fear of rejection that keeps us from experiencing love fully, or it may come as a resistance to change. By embracing vulnerability rather than shrinking from it, we can transform our lives.
‘We believe in the best in men’ is an interesting tagline. ‘Best’ can be a loaded word–when we strive to ‘do our best’, we tend to inevitably come up short of others’ expectations. But when we learn to BE our best–to release others’ expectations of us, and live empowered in the knowledge that we honor our authentic selves–we can live the lives we were always meant to have.
Some men live without allowing themselves to fully experience love, because they are afraid of vulnerability, afraid of rejection, and afraid of ridicule. The violence shown in the ad, then, does not stem from a political problem, but a spiritual one. Do you want to live in love, or in fear? Do you want to be confined by others’ expectations of what a man can feel and how he should act, or do you want to experience life as your authentic self?
If you are struggling to manage your relationships and the expectations placed on you, we invite you to reach out for a complimentary coaching session with The Possibility Coaches. You can also download Breaking the Chain of Emotional Pain as our free gift to you.
Jon Satin and Chris Pattay – The Possibility Coaches™
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