“Boys don’t cry” is an enduring lie told to boys which ends up crippling many men’s ability to handle emotions – all of them!
The lies men are fed about themselves
When boys are told they can’t cry or aren’t supposed to cry, they start to stuff down the emotions which make them feel anything that could trigger the tears. When they “dry their tears up” they learn to stuff their emotions deep down so that no tears will ever betray their “manliness”.
They do it to win the approval of the people who perpetuate these lies, but the personal cost is having all their emotions shut down.
When boys and men are told they can’t cry, they aren’t being taught how to handle the emotions which trigger the tears, whether it’s a disappointment, fear, anger, pain, or even joy.
Men are struggling to find their “place” in a world where women have been “liberated” from their confining roles once imposed upon them, but men feel left behind.
Men were once considered to be the breadwinners and the protectors of the family, while a woman was supposed to serve and nurture.
Women now feel free to live in ways that reflect who they are, and we receive a lot of direct and indirect support to do so.
Men are still being fed the old lies which keep their emotions prisoners deep inside of themselves. Men are still being made to feel they’re “weak” or “feminine” if they cry or show emotions.
This has given rise to much of the toxicity and anger we see within relationships, for men aren’t taught that it’s okay to experience all of their emotions, nor do they have much practice or opportunity to practice if they’re in families and communities which perpetuate these standards which are robbing men of the richness of life!
Men are taught to see emotions as weak, and because women are “allowed” to experience and express all their emotions, they are by extension weak too.
It is this writer’s belief that because many men have been shamed into not experiencing their emotions, there can be resentment towards women which gets expressed as hostility.
Yes, there are other factors playing into this mix that feeds men’s anger or resentment towards women. Let’s for a moment focus on this one thing.
I feel I created a safe space for both of my husbands to express their emotions, to cry if they were sad. I didn’t see them as being less manly when they did; I saw them just being vulnerable with their feelings around me and experiencing life as a human being.
So this resulted in my daughter seeing her father cry. Did she feel less safe because of it? No, for in the moments he cried there was sadness. She learned that it was normal for a man to express his feelings.
In turn, she is raising her son to be able to feel comfortable expressing his emotions. His twin sister has been influenced by people on her father’s side who scoff at men crying, so she has made fun of her brother. We’ve spoken gently to her to teach her that it’s okay for a male to express his emotions.
The dangers of having men suppress emotions
Suppressing those emotions leads to deeper feelings of despair, even anger, while a healthy release allows each of us to shed our grief or sadness and then be able to move forward.
If someone is being trained to suppress certain emotions, they don’t learn how to handle them in a healthy way.
Unfortunately, the only socially acceptable way for a man to release those pent-up emotions is through anger and aggression.
While venting anger isn’t seen in a good light, it’s still seen as being preferable to crying!
When something gets suppressed, at some point it wants to come out!
When men aren’t allowed by their families or communities to cry, the build-up of suppressed emotions over the years can lead to depression, anger issues, and possible addictions, for the mind needs to find a way to deal with the emotions.
Can we be both strong and vulnerable?
In a word, yes!
Our emotions are there for a reason, they come up naturally in life, and are very normal.
Men have been dealt a huge disservice in our societies that tell them to suppress a part of themselves, to hide part of who they are in the mistaken belief that strength and masculinity cannot live comfortably showing emotions.
If there’s a situation where tears are called for, time taken to honor that moment is actually really good for our mental health.
Those moments of being able to feel our emotions in the time we feel them help build our resiliency, for we learn that we are able to pick ourselves up and bounce back from a setback or life event.
How can we help change the cultural mindset? What can we do?
Why shouldn’t men be able to feel the whole range of emotions we have? Why do men need to continuously suppress their feelings at the expense of their mental health and emotional growth?
For men to feel comfortable feeling and expressing their emotions, they need to feel safe to do so without the fear of judgment or being belittled or mocked.
If you, as an individual, feel men should be comfortable feeling and showing their emotions, I encourage you to speak up. I encourage you to help to create a safe space where the men and the boys in your life are able to do so.
When men cry it doesn’t make them less manly or able to be strong and capable in life, any less than it is for a woman!
Let’s empower our boys and men to feel comfortable with all their feelings!
I’m sharing more posts that may be helpful for you:
- 10 Steps to Owning Our Happiness
- Setting “Boundaries with consequences”
- Making a change… “How do I take that first step?”
- Affirmation: Today is a new day! I can do this!
- As we practice being gentle and kind with ourselves, we actually help to speed the process of helping our lives become more positive!
- Always believe that wonderful things can happen!
- A healthy outside starts from the inside!
- Brain Rewiring
More good stuff:
Please go to my Archived Posts page to find more wonderful posts to check out!
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