Every day I ask men, “How are you doing?”
Usually I get a response like, “fine” or “good”, but that’s not really what I’m looking for. A better way to phrase the question is, “How are you feeling?”
When guys start considering their feelings, it is difficult for them to get beyond “good” or “fine”. It’s a big leap for guys to say I’m feeling sad, mad, afraid, or even joyful, but eventually they begin to make some connections. These are some of the answers I’ve heard:
I’m mad at my kid because he is on his screen all the time.
I’m sad because my wife won’t love me.
I’m afraid because I might lose my job.
I’m happy because my kid just got into the college she wanted.
But I don’t stop there. I then ask them, “Where are you feeling this feeling in your body?” This is a difficult question to answer in that we focus too much on the mind and forget that emotions live in the body, so it’s often met with a blank stare. They double down from their head and go on to explain why they are angry/sad/afraid/joyful. The “why” has become much less interesting to me. Give me a guy who is willing to really feel their feelings versus they guy who floats up to the safety of their head and “explain.”
But it’s important for men to locate feelings in their body, express them in a healthy way, and find the wisdom in what they are experiencing. Lack of connection with feelings is like going through life without a compass, not knowing what’s needed or what to ask for. Maybe that’s why many men out there feel so lost. Feelings are internal messages that guide us to make healthy decisions, and they allow us to understand and relate to the ones we love.
Most men don’t know how to do this, and initially, I didn’t either. Society taught us to push down our feelings, with the exception of anger which tends to come out as unproductive or harmful.
The interesting thing is we used to be experts at feeling when we were young. Sadly, we lost this skill and replaced it with rules about how to be a man. If you are reading this and want to join a group of men who are practicing healthy masculinity, I invite you to pause and ask yourself the following four questions:
- How are you feeling right now?
- Where is this feeling located?
- Do you have the courage to express the feelings in your body in a healthy way?
- What is the feeling here to teach me?
You in? Join us.