To feel or not to feel. That is the question!
There are 3 questions I regularly ask men! Not just any man, men in therapy!
- Which feelings do you share with your partner?
- Which feelings do you not share?
- Do you accept all your feelings as being helpful?
The complexities of the mind, and in this context it’s the male mind, often means that these questions can be difficult to answer initially.
The difficulties are often embedded within the stories that men’s minds come up with in response to feelings. Particularly negative emotions.
Below is a snapshot of men’s stories and their internal c as they respond to emotions.
This is not an exhaustive list nor is it the exclusive domain of men. Many of my female readers may also recognise them!
1. Being pragmatic, concrete, logical and decisive is the only way to live.
There is no room for ‘feeling’ language, it’s too fuzzy. Life is about doing. There is always a fix to any problem.
2. I cannot find words for feelings, both good or bad. I can’t find a way of expressing anything.
Keep silent and get on with life. The feelings will go away eventually.
3. I’ve become very successful in life, disregarding my feelings has got me here.
I avoid, distract, judge or rationalise my emotions. The feelings go, they’re weak anyway and I’m good at sucking it up and getting on with it.
4. Feeling vulnerable is not acceptable. I am unacceptable.
I don’t tolerate negative feelings or thinking. I see them as unacceptable and react against them, often berating myself or projecting out my discomfort onto anybody close to me. Big boys don’t cry.
5. Positive emotions about myself or others is not trustworthy and needs to be kept in check.
These positive feelings are not really true. I often feel let down by them anyway. I don’t really feel good enough and neither are you.
These stories are a confusing and conflicting movement of the mind. What the mind actually does is pushes down or pushes away unwanted thoughts and feelings.
This pattern is exhausting and leads to further escaping behaviour, major withdrawal from life and relationships with passive and open aggression. It also contributes to anxiety and depression.
How would you answer the 3 questions at the top of this post?