Recently, I re-read one of my favorite books, “Daring Greatly,” by Brene Brown. If you haven’t as yet read the book it comes highly recommended. It’s one of those MUST READ IN YOUR LIFETIME kind of texts. It covers some very relevant and cogent areas about how to weather shame, and strengthen vulnerability resilience. I am giving you an assurance on this, READ IT, it will change your life as it did mine.
So just to give you a a little background on the Institute for Wholehearted Men; it’s purpose is to encourage and educate men and boys to show up authentically and be seen for who we are; calloused, imperfect, sometimes afraid and flailing in the dark, yet strong, determined, resilient and driven to face the world. It’s about the everyday struggles that sometimes make us wear masks so we fit into whatever paradigm in which we’re trying to intersect. Wholehearted Manhood is about being true to self, first before you can fully be real or authentic with anyone else.
Let me share a quote from Daring Greatly;
Our willingness to own and engage with our vulnerability determines the depth of our courage and the clarity of our purpose; the level to which we protect ourselves from being vulnerable is a measure of our fear and disconnection.
For us men, vulnerability isn’t prescribed societal programming. We are not encouraged nor allowed to let our pain show or be on exhibition. The echoes of suck it up. Why you crying? Sissy. Alston acting like a girl, still ring in my ears. Years of emotional denial at the hands of both men and women. If anything, men are reminded and purposefully bombarded with messaging that promotes that we can’t be seen or show up authentically in our vulnerability. We have to be strong, raising, unemotional, stoic and have hard edges. The hero complex is our lot in life. We are supposed to be like the Jason Bourne’s of the world, enduring gunshots and falls from trains with a wince and a limp.
This is what past and current culture equates to authentic masculinity. It screams, DON’T BE WEAK. DON’T LET THEM SEE YOU SWEAT. The emotional arsenal of our men boils down to the basest levels, fear, shame, lead to anger, laughter, or violence. Fear is frowned upon, sadness is considered effeminate and crying isn’t supposed to be an option. So we self-medicate with whatever we can when these emotions appear.
Some time ago, in Psychology Today, Holly Corbett wrote the following;
Men are more vulnerable to loneliness than women, they have a greater need for belonging and connection. Maybe because women come from women, whereas men don’t come from men. Perhaps boys start out more constitutionally adrift than girls. Thereby needing more connection, more deeply and consistently. Otherwise, they may find their feelings intolerable and run from them.
The average man leads a lonely life. When we’re young we’re surrounded by the fanfare of youthful friendships mostly engaged in what feel like directionless pursuits. When we get older we’re focused on the more socially acceptable determinations of our worth, hard work, providing, winning in our jobs and amassing stuff to show that we’ve made it. Our value as determined by the world is through what we do, not who we are. Lost in all of this is feelings. Having feelings in any of these arenas is seen as a weakness.
It’s this running away from our feelings that encircles our lives. Kind of like when a dog gets angry at its tail for being near its bowl starts barking and chasing it. We perpetuate the lack of connection in a clear avoidance to feel. When it reaches its most exacerbated level, we don’t want to feel anything at all. So we ignore our tail as if it’s not going into every environment we enter. We overdose with coping mechanisms and excessive numbing activities like sports, drinking, drugs, pornography, career, or money.
There’s a lot more to share about male vulnerability and stay tuned to this channel for more. You can also join me on MyStarRadio online at 8pm every Tuesday for my show Wholehearted Men Show where we will be diving into issues such as this that affectour ability to show up as ourselves.