Ever heard someone say “I enjoy getting in touch with myself” during a conversation? Chances are you have, and chances are if you’ve said it yourself, you’re a female. Women love it, get giddy over it, and put together entire “wine-nights” or “sleepovers” as an excuse to form a tribe and talk about their feelings. Hey, that’s cool and should be supported; preach on.
Want to talk about emotions? If you’re a guy (dude, gentleman, bro, meathead, yuppie, or any variation), the answer is a resounding no. Want to bring up how cool mind, body, and spirit are, or any combination thereof? You’re definitely not a guy. You see a pattern here, right? Unfortunately, this is the stereotypical norm.
Here’s the ugly reality: men are becoming victims in their own race to deny inner awareness. Like a bat out of hell, they’re so extremely quick to deny anything is wrong, you would’ve never even guessed that anything was right. There’s a reason that most yoga rooms, spiritual retreats, personal development conferences, and self-help book readers are dominated by women, and it’s not a good one. The association of emotions with women has long fueled men of society to banish any association of the term with themselves. And now half of the world’s population is at a severe disadvantage that’s causing more hate, more violence, more aggression, and more ego than even Ramsey Bolton would love to admit. And we all know how much Ramsey loves everything that’s wrong.
Let’s be honest ‘dudes’, what’s your reaction when you hear “emotions”? “I don’t have any.” Got it. Understanding emotions? “I don’t understand them because I don’t have any.” Got it. Getting in touch with emotions? “I don’t have any, but also I don’t get in touch with them. Oh and leave that part to the chicks.” …Got it.
Women get it. Everyone gets it. Grab the power saw, grow the beard (assuming you can), save the kitty from the burning building, beat your chest when you demand her attention, and scoff at the foreign liquid expelling itself from your eye sockets (it’s only weakness leaving your body). This is what men are supposed to do. Or let’s rephrase that: this is what society thinks men are supposed to do. They are supposed to stay strong, deny tears, always be right, blaze new trails, and do whatever it takes to be number one in anything they do.
The Sudden Shift from Comfort to Societal Pressures
Like a lot of things in life though, these learned traits all start when we’re growing up. As a very young child, emotions and needs run rampant. You want some food? Cry. Something hurts? Cry again. Tired? The tears are flowing faster than hurricane floodwaters. Can’t figure out how to turn on your side because you’ve been sick of napping on your back the last four hours? You bet your ass it’s time to cry over it. Then you get old enough to walk, talk, and think for yourself, and grade school rushes at you like a gravity induced free-fall. Right smack in your face, you’re put around hundreds of your fellow peers, all ready to judge you in more ways than you could hope, dream, and care for. And that’s not a good thing. The raw emotions you learned as a kid get thrown out the window. Suddenly, the second you have the deadly combination of showing any kind of emotion and possessing the XY chromosome, you’re toast. You get made fun of. You get roasted. You become the laughing stock of the entire elementary/middle/high school, and sometimes it feels like the entire school district.
So what do you do if you’re a guy, your hormones are going crazy, and you want to talk about how you’re hurt or tell a girl how you really feel inside? You shutup and internalize it, and internalize it quickly. Repeat this process dozens of times, and like clockwork, you’ve enabled a habit. And because the word habit is neutral, it’s important to differentiate between the good habits and the bad habits. Naturally, as you guessed, this becomes a not so good habit.
Then there’s a thing called winning, and winning requires quick action. And who doesn’t love winning? Winning is awesome. And winning is what everyone wants, starting at the age of two (guessing there). And since we haven’t used the word winning enough, it requires one thing: you knock down second place to get to first. And how do you go about knocking down second place? You sniff out their weaknesses. Well when you’re young, you really don’t know left from right, so what’s the only plausible weakness your microscopic brain can see? Probably the dudes who show vulnerability. And the attack begins.
The Reality of Today’s Cutthroat Environment
So why bring up grade school and winning? Because in this perfect storm of most guys’ incoherent age range from 5 years old to 21, where nobody really knows what the hell they’re doing, we’ve accomplished only one thing: becoming masters of hiding our weaknesses. With today’s cutthroat society, it’s become so engrained into your brain, so driven into your every fiber of being, that to become vulnerable is essentially the equivalent of playing Russian roulette. In other words, you just might feel like you’re about to die. Which hey, in the wild, is how it works – weakness generally means natural selection is about to prove centuries worth of evidence that you probably aren’t meant to live a full, long, and prosperous life eating vegetation on the rolling hills of Africa. But when you consider your biggest weakness to be showing emotion and getting in touch with your mind, body, and spirit? Congratulations on joining the millions of other suckers out there who are also being misled and agree.
No gentlemen, you won’t be filling those yoga rooms, dominating the personal development conferences, swarming the spiritual retreats, or reading a bunch of self-help books anytime soon. And no, you aren’t going to become some emotional human being, filled with airy quotes and namastes, striving to become the next yogi.
What, then, should be expected? A little bit more self-awareness.
It’s Actually Really Simple
So by this point, you’ve probably been reading, expecting a long overdue answer to what, exactly, self-awareness is. Quite simply, it’s your ability to understand yourself a bit better – to start taking things from the inside out, instead of the outside in. To no longer let societal and peer pressures dictate what you want to do or how you want to act. To realize that what you’re feeling, on the inside, means something and you should listen to it. To stop, for a second, if you feel yourself getting upset, frustrated, angry, or impatient, and think about what exactly is triggering it. To notice patterns in your life, be it in the type of people you date, befriend, or work with, and realize that they are teaching you good and sometimes bad things.
If you can focus on some of these simple ideas, you will not only feel like a better person, but you’ll gain a confidence that cannot be broken as easily. Your relationships will improve. And if they don’t? It means you’ve simply reached a higher threshold than they’re capable of understanding, and you’ll meet the right people at the right time. Sound scary that maybe the person you’re with isn’t right for you? You can keep living in denial, or you can begin to become more self-aware and take action so you’re no longer living a sub-par life.
Here’s the key: you have to believe it before you see it. You deserve one badass life to live, so why waste time showing the wrong version of your true self?