“Nothing changes unless we talk about it.”
I heard these words come out of my mouth during a conversation. The words surprised me more than they did the person I was talking to.
Those words echoed in my mind as if from some ethereal being in room that neither of us could see. In fact these exact words had been rattling around in the squirrel cage of my mind for the last week, but it wasn’t until I heard them that their weight settled upon my weary soul.
Over the past days or weeks I have been gifted with a lot of thought provoking ideas. Thoughts which began a broader spectrum look back on the belief systems that have developed throughout my life. More specifically, thoughts I learned early on as to what men are supposed to be; how they are supposed to act; and what things they should never talk about.
I am going to attempt to quote Glennon Doyle during a podcast episode of On Being with Krista Tippet. Krista interviewed both Glennon and Abby Wambach during this episode. It’s available to listen to and I highly recommend giving it a go.
“Before our kids even get out of the shower we are already telling them to lose most of their humanity and fit themselves into these little categories of masculinity or femininity… it is just as dangerous to tell a little boy that he can only be angry as it is to tell a little girl that she can never be angry…and every message we send to our boys is that in order to be a real man you have to be really rich, and you have to be famous, and your have to conquer women, and you have to be utterly invulnerable…and then we wonder why our men can only talk about sports, the news, the weather, and nothing else. It must be so lonely to be a man, and it’s shocking that there is still all of these messages out there.”
In those words I heard truth which resonates. Her statement came from something as simple as shampoo labels yet as a child, in adolescence, and into early adulthood the messages are there. More particularly, the thought which is seeded and watered and given all of the sunlight that it wants; that men must be utterly invulnerable.
Nothing changes unless we talk about it.
As men, if we don’t talk about our fears and our weaknesses as well as our dreams and desires, what else do we have? The mask of the stoic man? The man so invincible that nothing affects his nature; calm and collected day in and day out? Bullshit!
As I research deeper into wellness for me through books and online sources I have noticed a glaringly obvious void in the resources for men who are looking for emotional maturity and help.
If you take a look for mental health or wellness resources for men online, this seems to be what you what you will find.
- “How to get the perfect abs.”
- “How to maximize your work day.”
- “How to increase your penis size and make her love you more.”
- “How to improve your portfolio”.
All of these sources are filled with images of the perfect guy surrounded by cars and women and money and prestige. Not what I’m looking for! Well sure abs and a ton of money and a giant penis sounds great but I’m still going to be stuck with my brain! And none of that would do me any real good if my brain is still cross-wired.
Men’s wellness sources completely evade the topic of emotional wellness. They skip over the idea that men can or should be vulnerable and focus on the conquering aspects. They tell us the real men are ripped and loaded both in the wallet and below the belt. Men are warriors in every aspect of their lives. Real men don’t show weakness ever. They don’t show any emotion other than anger. They don’t have time for feeling because they must always be doing and achieving. It’s this warrior ideal that really caught my attention. It’s this ideal that I think is what drives us from kids into adulthood unless we have the right tools to help us along the way. Not many of us I think do.
I’ve never needed to face a lethal enemy invader on my 20 minute drive to work. That period when my brain works overtime thinking about all the stuff I have to power through during the day, and leave how I feel about it under the floor mat. War in the boardroom is a crock of shit!
It isn’t important to me how much money you have, or what kind of car you drive…or if you drive at all. I’m more interested in how you feel; what your dreams are. What’s your favorite song and what does it make you think about. What makes you feel really alive? What makes you feel valued as a person. As I go forward and discover these for myself I also want to learn them about you. We can help each other in that regard.
It’s time to have real dialogue, mostly because I am not interested in the weather at all my man! Really! For a group of humans that rely on small talk; I find it loathsome!
Home Practice: Meditate on what the warrior looks like to you. Do a quick body scan while you hold this image. What does the warrior see, feel, think? What do we feel when we imagine the warrior in ourselves? How does your image of the warrior affect you. Does your blood pressure change? Do you feel more or less tension in your neck, shoulders or in your hands. Then if you want picture your image of the warrior in your office, or on your commute to work, or out for dinner with your family. I hope that makes you smile! When you’re done with the warrior image, picture you and a good friend having coffee or a meal and talking about all the things that make you you.
Got it? Good now go call that person and make a plan!! End the silent suffering!