You might have heard the news that men aren’t great with feelings and emotions. In fact, many of us have been told emotions are bad and should be shut down.
This is a problem because feelings are an essential part of life. They are a signal for when things aren’t right, when we have lost something important, they let us know when we are safe, if we have upset someone, if we’re comfortable, happy and so on. Emotions guide us. They help us to respond to what’s happening around and enable us to connect with others. If we do not register the feelings, we’re unlikely to see the problem until the last minute.
It’s important to understand what your emotions are telling you. The stronger the emotions – particularly negative emotions – the more attention they demand from us to make sense of them. Because most of us have never been taught how to use emotions effectively, many people struggle with them.
Opening up and tuning into your emotions is one of the first steps to relieving them and getting your needs met. Once you understand what you’re feeling and why, it becomes easier to identify what you need to do to improve the situation.
Sadly, it is all too easy to avoid dealing with negative emotions. It can be hard to show vulnerability and open yourself up to understand the way you feel. From a young age, the message a lot of guys get is to shut down feelings with harmful messages such as “man up”, or to only express certain things like anger. This creates fewer opportunities to form a healthy relationship with emotions or develop a way to talk about them.
Some information about emotions
Emotions are useful, we all have them
Emotions are central to forming and sustaining relationships with others
Emotions connect us to ourselves, others and the world
They allow us to make sense of what is happening around us and enable us to respond to situations as they happen
Uncomfortable emotions let us know when something is wrong. The propel us into working out what the problem is so that we can do something about it, if we can.
We prioritise uncomfortable emotions, particularly emotions that indicate threat like anger, anxiety, sadness & shame
Comfortable emotions let us know when things are going well. They attract us towards them and propel us into seeking out more of a good thing
Recognising how we are feeling and why, can help us to overcome our struggles
Trying to escape or fight our emotions is rarely a useful strategy
Learning how to soothe emotions is a helpful skill to learn
We can lose our capacity to think clearly when highly emotional
By thinking through our emotions when we are calmer, we can apply more balanced ideas which can set us in the right direction for positive growth
We can lose our meaning, purpose and connection when we shut down feelings and emotions
We are best placed to tackling the challenges life present when we are feeling a little but not too much
We are rarely or never told what emotions are or why we have them. So why would we expect ourselves to be good at managing them
By learning to understand our emotions we become more empowered
The more intelligent we are about emotions, the more self-aware we become. Awareness is the first point of change
By understanding emotions, we can learn to become more flexible in how we respond to them
Feeling good or bad for extended periods is energy consuming and tiring
Emotions are activating
Being activated by emotions impacts on our ability to rest and sleep
Being able to rest and sleep is good for our recovery and promotes good physical and psychological well-being