If I had a dollar for every time I heard from a man that emotions are useless, I could retire in luxury. To be fair, most of my clients are scientists, engineers, IT guys, accountants, and the like. It’s a world I’m highly familiar with (and attracted to.) My dad and son are engineers. My husband is a scientist and most of my serious boyfriends were as well. To a certain extent, I’m a left-brainer too, so I get it.
But we all have emotions, even those of you with a Y chromosome. They’re part of your survival mechanism. They live in the part of your brain that fires when you hear a noise in the night or a growl from the woods. It puts you on high alert to determine if you’re under threat. It’s also the part of your brain that makes you want to buy a truck, or a sports car, or support one sports team over another. Yes, you will then find rational reasons for doing so, but the initial choice comes from your gut.
What you may not have had was permission to become comfortable with them. So is it any wonder that you find them difficult? Especially the harder ones – hurt, fear, frustration, sadness. Phrases like “big boys don’t cry”, “toughen up”, and “be a man” have locked you in a box. Because if you shut down the hard feelings, you shut down the softer ones like love, gratitude, and happiness as well. It isn’t just hurting your relationships, it’s actually killing you.
The one emotion you’ve not only been allowed to feel but have often been rewarded for is anger. Aggression is just another word for it. And uncontrolled or unfocused anger does damage. Both to others and to yourself. When all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail. When the only emotion you know is anger, that’s the one that runs the show. But the black/white choice between flatness or explosion is no real choice at all.
To feel is to be human. And like many things, you get to do it in your unique way. It won’t make you a “wuss” or any other derogatory term. It will make you whole. And just because you feel something, it doesn’t mean you will lose control. Even if you did now and then, it wouldn’t mean anything except that you’re alive and something matters. Because you are and it does. So why pretend otherwise?
Another plus? Suppressing your feelings takes a lot of energy. Energy that could be used to manage them instead. Wouldn’t it be great to make decisions about your actions in response to them instead of being at their mercy when they manage to escape? Talk about taking control! But first, you have to be able to feel. Without judgment or precondition. It might take some practice but anything worthwhile usually does.
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