We can spend a lifetime never truly understanding what we want and need out of life. Men have been conditioned to not show vulnerability; the result is we fail to inspire the people around us. We have difficulty creating an environment of love and support. We hide our true feelings so we can appear strong on the outside. Showing vulnerability is still perceived as a weakness in men. This is especially true in the sport of ice hockey that has been a cornerstone in my life.
We are taught that asking for support makes us less of a man. Men find ways to disconnect from their emotions through different outlets. Alcohol, drugs, and womanizing are some examples of how men check out from their emotions.
The long-term cost is we are less available emotionally to the people in our lives. Empathy isn’t developed because we don’t understand or know how to access our own emotions. Many men cope with uncomfortable emotions by withdrawing or respond with aggression.
What is the remedy?
Develop courage by putting yourself at risk, expressing how you truly feel. This is not as easy as one might think. First you must become aware! What situations and emotions do you find uncomfortable? When and how do you deal with uncomfortable emotions?
I dealt with my vulnerability by womanizing and seeking recognition.
My relationships were very passionate in the beginning. As conflicts surfaced, wounds and insecurities would get triggered. Instead of expressing my deepest needs, I would push people away hoping to receive more attention. I was attracted to the image of that person; this kept me safe.
Many unconsciously beliefs motivate our behaviors. Our egos are driven by our unconscious wounds and fears. Its sole function is to keep us safe.
Fear distorts reality; it becomes self-realizing.
Our education teaches us that if we only change our external circumstances, we will finally feel secure and fulfilled. Inner growth takes discipline and commitment! Most of us are opting for instant gratification; we work on our image instead of working on our true self.
This is the lie our society operates by! Outer success doesn’t equal fulfillment! Real success is about enjoying the ride; you grow and discover yourself while creating the life you envision.
Life has a way of showing you where you need to grow! There are no accidents; the people we attract are projections of ourselves. They can also be parts of ourselves we have suppressed; it is where we need to grow and expand! For some it is expressing themselves more directly, for others it is learning to listen and developing empathy. It is about taking our masks off and becoming a more authentic person.
In the past, I couldn’t imagine putting myself in danger for my principles and values. I played it safe, avoided conflicts at all cost. My life looked good on the outside but I suffered on the inside. Today when I make choices based on my internal guide, I develop character and let go of my ego’s grip to protect.
We always have the ability to choose! We can continuously numb ourselves or we can engage with what life presents us! Taking full responsibility for your life means taking full responsibility for your emotions. At 47 years old, I realize that the more comfortable I get with uncertainty and vulnerability, the more I feel alive and connected to the world.
This journey is about moving away from your ego and moving into your heart.
When we learn to live authentically, we truly touch people and we offer our children a better future.