The action of understanding, being aware of, being sensitive to, and vicariously experiencing the feelings or thoughts of another, of either the past or present without having the feelings or emotion to fully express or communicate your thoughts as a person to others in an objectively explicit manner.
-Merriam – Webster
On May 16th, 2020, I had a very lengthy conversation with my dad. What most would describe as impossible turned out to be something I genuinely hold on and look forward to each time we had prior conversations. After the really long talks and exchange of information, he ended with an “I Love You” note. I quickly responded, and it felt good when I returned to him those few, yet powerful words.
That day and days that came after, I told everyone and anyone who cared to listen that my dad in all years of my existence told me he loved me for the first time. I mean, I know he loves me. He does what every father is expected to do, and even more. There’s a roof over our heads, and I’m never naked. There’s always food, and there’s the footing of our bills. Why am I surprised then? Why does it sound strange to me then? Why was I super hyped about three words I share with my mom and siblings almost half the time we had a conversation? Oh! That’s right! My dad’s a MAN!!
“Man up”, “Get your life together”, “Stop being a pussy”, “You are a man”, “Big boys don’t cry”, “Stop grumbling or gripping”, “Fix it!”
Men have grown into controlling their emotions, and never expressing themselves. They were raised with an enormous amount of ridicule and tortured into silence whenever they showed any sign of what could be classified as a form of “weakness”. Little by little, the numerous forms of teachings, actions, and emotional abuse has pursued them into constantly bottling up their feelings, and making an objective outburst whenever sensitive issues are brought to the table.
The sweet-bitter part of this whole experience is that whilst quite a number have raised [and is raising] sons into depression because so much is expected from them, a reasonable number is understanding the need to be better acquainted with how best to express themselves, and even maybe cry whenever the need arises.
Men are not from Mars, and Women are not from Venus. There really isn’t any book that says the brains of men and women are supposed to fundamentally function differently; or that men should be analytical, whilst women, empathetic; How logical men are supposedly built, or how emotionally inclined women are; or even how the man is supposed to protect the vulnerable, and not BE vulnerable.
To get out of this mess into a better age of expression, freedom and normality of vulnerability, the need to constantly check up on the people we live and relate with is of essence. Randomly asking people about certain sensitive issues and their thoughts could be a really great way to start.
For the better part with the privilege of self-finding and manifestation, talk to others about their thoughts and experiences in underlying relatable topics, and share your thoughts to who cares to learn, on how to make a strategic approach toward these topics.
There really isn’t any hard or fast rule. Groom your boys, and educate men that it is okay to be sensitive. Men should understand that as difficult as it is, it is very okay to show softer sides. Make mistakes; commit accidents, and be willing to learn from these experiences. It fine to be open and allow people in. It is never bad to lose to your counterparts and even people of opposite sexes.
Of course, life’s a competition, but no one said it had to be a toxic one. It is okay to show fear, accept defeat, make corrections, and express sadness. It’s fine to be vulnerable; it’s okay to express empathy.