I am a mother to three beautiful kids and a wife to an amazing man. I am a firm believer in emotional expression and I encourage my boys to identify and express their emotions whatever that might be. Why do I do this? The reason is I am sick and tired of the phrase ” Be a Man”. The society dismissed men as the feelingless gender. Men are expected to be though, on point, not to cry, not to feel, be the provider and the protector and so on. Men conform to what psychologists call The Masculine Norms, the rules of masculinity and the ways men are told they should act. How to empower men to breakthrough their emotions? Why talk about it?…
Why talk about it?
The restriction of emotional expression can lead to a sense of isolation, and health issues due to extreme tension in the body. This is followed by bad coping techniques, less support from loved ones, relationship difficulties due to the inability to express emotions and depression and anxiety and suicide. Learn how to communicate with loved ones to meet your emotional needs.
Change needs to happen in early age
From an early age, we need to encourage our boys to identify and show their feelings. Moreover, this is what we do with our girls, we constantly remind them to use their words, why don’t we do the same for men? It’s ironic that it is absolutely fine for a man to express anger in public but no other emotions can be displayed. However, women can display any emotion except anger.
how to empower men to express their emotions?
Give them a time-out
When men are presented with emotions they don’t understand, they can become stressed. This is when you need to give him time for reflection and problem- solving. Allow him to retreat to his ”Man Cave” and simply suggest he takes some time off and meets you after to talk things over. This sends him a message that you understand the need to work through his emotions and you are available for talk.
Watch your body language
You need to relax your body and make the environment comfortable. Remember, men have difficulty expressing their emotions, he needs to feel safe and not judged. Therefore, you need to have an open body message and use a soft loving voice to smooth him up and express his feelings.
Pick the right time
This may sound difficult to do, but trust me it’s for the better. You won’t get anything good out of him when he is tensed or feel pressured to answer your questions or talk about something he hasn’t had time to process himself. This is just going to send him right back to his man cave. Take a break and remember his feeling process is still under construction and need time and patience and support.
Treat him as equal
This is self-explanatory. He is not a child you need to make decisions for or reprimand, he is your partner. So treat him like one. He has his own mind and feeling, respect them and he will return the respect.
He needs to trust you with his deepest emotions and the soft part of his life. It’s paramount for him to know that you will not use what he shared with you against him in a later argument. You won’t want this done to you, as a result, don’t do it to him.
Start with a joke
Start a conversation with a few jokes, this relaxes your man and makes it easy for him to talk. We’ve all said this, ” We need to talk”. All that does is make his mind go blank. Remember how you felt last time someone said this to you?
If you want him to keep opening up to you, resist the urge to interrupt him or giving advice before he’s even done talking. Simply listen to him, keep eye contact, give him your attention and nod to let me know that you are present with him. Paraphrase when needed. When he’s done expressing himself, acknowledge his feeling and sympathize with him. You can ask if he wants your feedback or advice and respect his response.
Be open with him
Show him that it’s okay to be open about our fear and any other emotions. And that there are no consequences for talking to you. This set a good example for him to follow.
When your man shares his feeling with you, for an instant he says he is hurt by something you said or did, take a moment to appreciate his openness. Address his concern in a nonjudgmental way, end the conversation with yet another appreciation of him voicing his emotion to you.
You can’t change a lifetime habit with few trucks overnight. It takes time and patient to develop a healthy habit. Moreover, we, society created this masculinity norms by raising girls like princesses and men as macho and emotionless.