From a young age we teach our boys that to cry is weakness, that to have emotion is weakness, that you need to deal with shit on your own, you need to Man Up and keep your problems to yourself and deal with them. On the other side of the coin we teach our girls that it is OK to be emotional, girls are encouraged to discuss their problems, they talk to their friends, it is seen as a social interaction, girls have a great friendship base to talk about what is going on, positive and negative, boys are the opposite. Boys are taught to not talk about your weaknesses, not talk about your problems, but to be the tough guy. So we end up like a bunch of gorillas, who are unemotionally interacting with each other trying to be the coolest, trying to show themselves as the toughest, when really men want emotional interaction and connection.
The problem of emotional disconnection leads to such levels of despair and mental anguish for men that the suicide rate for men is 4 times higher than that of women. It is really time for men to stand up and change the way we interact with our sons and daughters, and the way that we interact with each other, because there is no-one else coming. If we don’t make a change in the way that we operate, if we don’t make a change now to show boys what is acceptable and what is not, if we don’t make a change to actually create a more emotionally connected world by being strong loving powerful leaders, then who is going to do it?
I am very emotional, I am emotionally connected to the people in my life; I am very expressive with my daughters, my partner Rach, and my friends. As I go along my journey of personal development and delve deeper into The Strong Life Project, I am becoming far more emotional and a lot stronger because of that. We raise our sons by teaching them this archaic notion that men should be tough, they don’t cry, don’t talk about their feelings, and then we wonder why we have a domestic violence epidemic, mental health problems, and high rates of suicide, alcohol and drug abuse. Men absolutely use alcohol, drugs, sex and gambling as self-medication because they are trying to find a way to cope with the mental anguish of not being able to talk about what is troubling them, not being able to emotionally connect with people because they will be seen as weak.
Surely as a society we have evolved to the point where we can teach boys to treat people well because that is the right thing to do, because if we connect emotionally and we look after each other and we have each other’s back and we treat other with respect then we will have a far better society. Go out and start living your lives as emotionally connected people, who express their emotions to their wives and their kids, who express their emotion, adoration and their affection to their friends.
These days I find myself far more emotionally connected with my friends where I will put my arm around them and tell them “you’re a great man, I love you very much, I am so proud to have you in my life”, and it is amazing how well they respond. Ultimately that is what we all want, we want emotional connection, we all want to be accepted, and we all want that emotional support. Men want to be able to release their emotion and not hold onto it, I know from getting to the point of PTSD, depression and suicide, it very nearly cost my life trying to be a tough guy.
Who I want to be is a loving, caring and strong man as a father to my daughters, as a partner to Rachel, as a friend to my friends, as a son to my parents, as brother to my sister, I am sure you get it.
So ask yourself, what is the mask that you live in? What is the mask that you are hiding behind, pretending that you are a tough guy and that you don’t give a shit when really things are falling apart and you need someone to help you? The men who I love and respect are the most emotionally strong and powerfully connected leaders, they are not the violent dominating bullies.
Ask yourself, how are you raising your sons?
How are you interacting with other men?
What is the mask you live in?