Stop and consider the emotions pushing your llfe. Most fathers don’t consider their child’s emotional skill development to be part of their responsibility. We’ve been taught to be strong, resilient and productive. Economic support is job number one. Part of that instruction has been to use only ‘masculine’ emotions so we can be good providers. However, family relations are not only about the things we share. They are also deeply impacted and shaped by the understanding and acceptance we have with our fathers.
Most of us will come up with a set of feelings that nestles neatly under weakness or vulnerability. Men are tough, strong, protective. The emotions we experience as weakness or vulnerability are considered unmanly, unworthy, violations of masculine nature. Isn’t our job to eradicate weakness in our families?
The Problem with Being Afraid of Fear
Most men will agree they have been taught to shut down certain feelings. When we do this, we are in a sense denying that all feelings are intelligence. All our feelings have a purpose. Whether it is called God or Nature or Spirit, there’s something which is constantly making life. Guys, our emotions—all of them—are part of life.
Every emotion has a purpose. If we don’t learn how to use them, we limit our usefulness, our wholeness as men. Do you use a screwdriver to pound nails?
Emotions build character qualities.
It’s unavoidable that we all use emotions in developing character. Some emotions build better character than others. Someone who has developed an understanding nature has learned to listen to others. In terms of feeling, this means feeling ‘interested’ in what another has to say. Someone who is impatient and angry has learned to feel ‘disrespectful’ of another’s words.
In considering whether we wish to be understanding or disrespectful, we must commit to feelings that accompany those character qualities. If we don’t understand these in ourselves, how can we help our families with them?
Feelings are linked to thinking
If you’ve read this far in this article you’re ready to consider that besides being intelligence, feelings can be chosen just like a hammer or screwdriver.
We are capable of deciding when and where we use certain feelings. As we grew up we learned to ‘never’ be/feel afraid. But what if that car up ahead that just swerved across the yellow line might kill our children? Doesn’t it make sense to be more alert and protective then? This type of response would, of course, be immediate, involuntary. Consider also that we can choose beforehand to use emotions like tools when there isn’t an emergency.
Thinking is linked to experiencing emotions.
Try this simple exercise. Sit quietly for a moment and bring your attention to your breathing. Notice when your breath moves in and when it moves out. Notice the stop between in and out. Aware of our breathing we naturally recognize there is a process which we did not create. Yet it is part of us.
Noticing breathing in this way offers a chance to also notice our thoughts and feelings. When we are quietly watching breath arrive and depart as we might the waves at the ocean shore, our bodies naturally relax.
Still, quiet observation of our breath offers a moment to also experience still, quiet emotions. With nothing to do but observe, we may give up our drive to accomplish and instead just accept. We may notice our choice to be quiet and observe has resulted in an awareness of the presence of peace.
Give yourself a new experience.
We have all been taught and accepted rules to live by. The rule that some emotions are unmanly for males has dire consequences for too many children. Many fathers teach their children that they do not deserve their fathers’ intimacy. These children who desire to be accepted and understood run the risk of falling under their fathers’ creed of ‘authority without vulnerability’.
If you would like your children to grow up strong and confident, teach them their emotions, and yours, are all to be used skillfully for ourselves and in meeting them in others as well.
Fathers who commit to understanding and acceptance as emotional goals will find their worlds immediately shifted in a sense of deep, powerful connection. Today try breathing acceptance and understanding as emotional goals and see what you learn about how you work….and watch your family bloom.
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