I asked 20 millennial male coaches and entrepreneurs in my circle what advice they would give men on emotions, the power of vulnerability, and grounded masculinity:
Preston Smiles (www.prestonsmiles.com): Until we define it we can not design it. When we don’t face off with our pain, our emotions, our sadness it will come out in other ways like road rage, uncontrollable anger, porn addiction, and or abuse of those we love the most. The body is a living library storing all past traumas and most men are taught to not express their feelings from a very early age. So I would remind men that what we practice more of, we’ll get more of. Start small with noticing when you feel most vulnerable, excited, or angry on a daily basis and tracking what you do when those things arise, because you can’t change what you can’t see. We are all on a journey home to the self, and life will forever be unfolding so be PATIENT and loving to yourself it’s all perfect even when it doesn’t appear to be.
Yahya Bakkar (www.theconfidenceblueprint.com): In my own experience, the best way to teach men that it’s okay to be vulnerable is for other men to show up, step up and speak up by example. It takes courage for a man to wear his heart on his sleeve—even in the face of social rejection. When one man decides to live his truth and express how he feels, he gives other men the permission to do the same.
Jake Ducey (www.jakeducey.com): Have you ever noticed that most of us walk around with an underlying sense of stress or anxiety, but we just can’t pinpoint what it’s from? Men do this especially because they do not release their emotions to the extent that women do. We live our lives trying to prove ourselves. You’ve probably met a guy like that, right?
When we try to create our success out of proving ourselves, or out of fear, all we get is success that does not fulfill us. My advice to sharing your emotions, is to start with sharing them with yourself. Are you happy? Are you fulfilled? Why are you doing what you’re doing with your life?
Tayo Rockson (www.tayorockson.com): One thing that I’ve done to feed my vulnerability is get comfortable discussing my mistakes in front of people. Vulnerability is actually self-awareness that leads to self-improvement; every one from Thomas Edison to Elon Musk have all found strength in their most public failures or vulnerable moments. I would encourage men to change their perceptions on vulnerability. Vulnerability doesn’t take away power. It gives you power. The power to be yourself at all times.
Geoff Bruskin (www.theherosmovement.com): How can we teach men that it’s okay to cry, express emotions, and that vulnerability is a sign of strength? To model that behavior. Men and women – the best way that we can teach anything to one another is to model the behavior we are hoping to inspire in others. When we seek for other’s to be vulnerable with us, we must lead with vulnerability. When we desire sensitivity from others, we must show sensitivity. We get so caught up in creating transformation in others that we forget how we are the source of all change.
Ahmad Affiffy (www.empowrmedia.com): The advice I would give for men is to practice letting go of resisting how they truly feel. Emotion is important for many reasons. The main reason is it’s one of the main things that differentiates us from other species on this earth. We are the only creatures on this planet that can rationally “think” emote and act. That’s nothing to be ashamed of and should be used to our advantage.
Andrew Ferebee (www.knowledgeformen.com): A lot of men are unhappy in their lives because they are playing the extra in their own story. They are not the lead character in their own life! Express yourself, have confidence in yourself and love yourself fully. Too many people lock who they really are inside of a cage. Never to be seen or heard and are often confused as to why they struggle socially and in relationships. Every negative situation contains the possibility for something equally positive – an opportunity that you can turn into a benefit. Crisis are a necessary ingredient to become a stronger more grounded man because what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.
Adam Siddiq (www.adamsiddiq.com): I used to think I was practicing emotional intelligence until I realized the reality of what emotions are really about from my dear mentor, Donny Epstein. Emotions are not about laughing, crying or screaming. Emotions cause a change in your gene expression. Emotional intelligence is about being aware of subtle changes in the environment and your ability to immediately take a new action.
Kristian Stephan-Martin (www.kristianstephanmartin.com): There’s an outdated stereotype, persona, list for what it means to be a man in most of western culture that is highly suppressive of emotion. It’s safe and its actually more courageous to express yourself. Radical authenticity and vulnerability —adding perspective to your honesty — sets you up to be powerful.
David Schloss (www.rampify.com): Don’t hesitate to ask for guidance or help as it is NOT a form of weakness, but simply opens up dialog for you to see where things can to be improved or where you can progress. Knowing that other people have experienced similar situations helps develop confidence, obtain actionable advice, and belief you can persevere. Had I stayed distant from my feelings, I wouldn’t have found the support I needed to move forward. Share your struggles with those closest to you. The pain of your vulnerability is temporary, but the DECISION to be persistent with overcoming adversity will help you create an ideal life. Falling down and getting up again is a part of the life process. Embrace it.
Andrey Adison (www.elevatetoelite.com): It starts with bringing awareness to how this mindset of feeling like we have to put on this mask and hide our emotions… is actually holding us back experiencing true freedom and fulfillment in life. It takes courage and strength to be vulnerable. To ask for help. To share your flaws. And when you do it, you realize you’re not alone. You see that there are people who you can inspire, impact and create a deeper connection with by showing up as your authentic self. That’s what has helped me. Realizing that the gateway to creating a deeper connection and impact with the people around me was authenticity
Justin Blackburn (www.instagram.com/yogapoetcomedianveganlifecoach): Vulnerability is a sign of strength. It is how you know your courage is real. So feel free to cry my friend, to grow stronger you must water your roots, let go of what is holding you back. Our world is in constant forward motion so express your emotions and they will take you to where you want to go. The biggest lie anyone told you is that you’re not beautiful.
Randall Sean Garcia (www.millennialeadership.com): In the past 4 years, I have gone from being an invulnerable person to a vulnerable one. I believe this happened the moment I became a father. I am more sensitive to the needs of my family, my team, and my clients which helps me serve them better. The moment that you are able to understand how emotions play a vital role in your success is the same moment that you discover that authentic leadership is a transformational kind of leadership. Hiding these traits only prohibits your true self from shining.
Myke Macapinlac (www.socialconfidencemastery.com): Vulnerability is a form of self-respect because you’re willing to say what’s really going on in your mind regardless of what other people may think. The more honest you are, the faster you’ll find the right relationships for you.
Vidal Cisneros (www.vidalcisnerosjr.com): It takes real courage to create meaningful connection through being vulnerable enough to show that we are human too. Show me a stoic man who sees vulnerability as a weakness and I’ll show you a man who has yet to face true adversity. As the strongest tree trunk needs the softest leaves to bring nourishment, real connection thrives through empathy.
Bryan Teare (www.bryanteare.com): If you ask someone whether they thought someone else was weak for sharing something personal, they would say no. Yet that same person would say they’d feel weak if they did it themselves. This is the mindset we need to shift. Crying and expressing emotions is a way to process grief, which ultimately leads to freeing ourselves from the pain that comes with it. This brings with it new strength, and also implies that the weaker option would be to keep it bottled up and try deal with things ourselves.
Rob Fajardo (www.robfajardo.com): We can teach men by changing the stigma of the overly masculine male. The new age superior man is a man with a high emotional intelligence, a man that is aware and present. A man that can cry when necessary in moments of vulnerability shows that he is content with himself. He does not need to put on a front. Crying is often a release and afterwards we end up much better off than before.
Austin Iuliano (www.dscience.co): Breakdowns lead to breakthroughs. If we refuse to recognize our emotions, we remove our power as men and our gifts. Emotions allow us to connect with others, fee empathy, and be better leaders. We must recognize that at times it is okay to cry and ask for help. By asking for help we are actually stronger. Weakness is only present if we don’t utilize all our assets, and pretend to be strong to protect our ego.
Omar Hassam (www.successaccelerators.nyc): Vulnerability is important not for the sake of vulnerability, but for the importance of authenticity. And authenticity is tied to knowing who you are. For men in their pursuit for alignment in their lives, it’s very important to go through a process that allows them to get clear on the value that they bring to the market and how they have evolved into the person that they are today. That I believe is the core foundation for how men can feel aligned and authentically show up.
Austin Netzley (www.austinnetzley.com): For the first half of my 20’s, I cried only 2 or 3 times total. Now? I tear up that many times in a usual month. The main things that changed are seeing what is truly important and having more compassion for others. Those things are missing from a lot of men’s lives – especially mine for most of my 20’s. The way that I’ve seen most men (myself included) make the transition to see that it’s more than ok to share emotions is to take them out of their comfort zone. We get lost in the day to day, but it’s when you get out of your typical routine and environment that you can start to see what truly matters. It allows you to see the bigger picture and can help pull out what’s been missing or what needs fixed in your life.
Even in fear there is the presence of love. – Amanda
Our ability to get vulnerable and honor emotions —the full spectrum — is part of becoming a fully integrated human being. There is an opportunity to dive deeper and to heal. And one of the biggest learning lessons that my brother and myself gained from our childhood is we aren’t defined by our past, but we are called to shape our futures.
So keep going. Go within and see what you find. You might just find that part of yourself that you’ve been seeking. It’s within you.
This article was previously published on the Huffington Post.