“Strong Boys Don’t Cry”
How Many Times Have We Come Across This Phrase, Even in This “Modern” Generation?
Since their childhood, boys are told that expressing softer emotions like crying or talking about their feelings indicates a sign of weakness. Boys may grow up to be emotionally challenged men. While some men might still manage to break the barriers and express themselves, most women could vouch for the fact that, they may have never seen the men in their life cry.
It is commonly believed that men are do not have emotions. This, however, couldn’t be further from the truth.
The truth is that even though men possess the “masculine” emotion of anger, they do have feelings and feel emotions as much as or even more than what females do. However, since society tells them that, expressing feelings and emotions isn’t “manly,” most of them either become emotionally stunted or are not even able to recognize their own feelings.
Many women often complain that men do not express themselves. They get frustrated that their man, does not share his feelings with them. But, when men do express what they feel, the same women dismiss their feelings and call them sensitive or “emotional.”
This Has to Change, Both for The Good of Men and Women.
The inability to express one’s feelings can be suffocating. The fear of being judged for expressing is another dreadful feeling. Millions of men are driven into depression because of their lack of expression.
Human beings are expressive creatures, and they cannot bottle up their feelings for long. If external situations try to challenge this, the internal system is going to explode. Studies show that about two-thirds of the suicides committed all around the world comprise men.
Men are always under the societal pressure of being strong. They have to be the man of the family, the shoulder to lean on and the epitome of strength.
What if these pillars of strength themselves need someone to lean on? The truth is that they do.
Science has shown that men use the left side of their brain while women use their right. The left is where logic and reasoning lie; the right deals with emotions. It is a clear scientific indication as to why men operate more on practical grounds while women operate on emotional grounds. However, it is important to note that both feel the same irrespective of how they operate.
An injured puppy or a dying person will cause an equal amount of pain to both men and women, just that men might not express it and still offer a shoulder to cry.
While there are many more gender stereotypes, this one is of special importance because the inability to express oneself can have serious mental implications. The predominant reason that such stereotypes still exist is the reinforcement that society provides.
Men must realize that they do not have to live up to the image that society has about men. The modern man is someone who shares their feelings with their loved ones, talks to them about how certain things make them feel, and feels free to express their emotions, however soft they might be.
However, for men to break out of this shell that has been reinforced for ages, women must step in. The modern woman supports the men around her to express themselves, provides a safe space for them to do so, and listens or empathizes with them without any judgment.
If you are a woman who is reading this, there are some steps and measures that you could take to help your man open up and help them actually feel what they are feeling.
- Talk to them and let them know that you are listening.
- Let them know that they do not have to express something to the whole world, but they have a safe space and corner with you to do so.
- Talk about your own feelings so that they know that they can feel vulnerable with you too, just as you are allowing yourself to be with them.
- Do not use tactics like, “I promise to keep it a secret,” as this just reinforces the idea that there is something to be ashamed of.
- Encourage them to share and stay true to your words. When they do open up to you, do not dismiss their feelings by telling them how there are problems bigger than theirs. Help them feel that their emotions and feelings are equally important.
- In your social circles, talk about the importance of expression so that other like-minded women pitch-in too and show other men that women are accepting of their feelings.
More importantly, teach younger boys that expression is normal, and the perfect man is someone who not only expresses himself but also respects everyone else’s feelings.
Now, if you are a man who is reading this, you might identify as the inexpressive man or the expressive one. If you have realized how not expressing yourself has been holding you back from living your best life, there are some things you could do too.
- Start expressing more: If you believe that expressing softer emotions will help your mental health, do it irrespective of how people around you react or what they say.
- Promote the idea: Talk to your buddies about how men can express themselves too and how it is perfectly normal. Chances are, your friends will pull your leg, but you never know, it might lead to a conversation with another friend who has been dying to talk to someone.
- Seek professional help: If you feel that you have forgotten how to express yourself, talk to an expert. If you do not feel that you have a safe space to express yourself with your loved ones, talk to a professional as they will listen to you without any judgment and help you overcome this hurdle.
- Start with journaling: If talking to people about your feelings seems like a daunting task, start telling a book how you feel. Write down how you feel about certain things. This activity might seem silly at first, but it helps you acknowledge your feelings, which is the first step in this journey.
Try these. Trust us, you’ll feel better. The act of expression can set you free.
Even though there is a long way to go to change these age-old beliefs and gender stereotypes, but we’ve got to start somewhere, haven’t we? Women need to come together to help bring about this change.
We need to normalize the fact that expressing emotions does not emasculate men but disrespecting others who do express themselves does.