When you look at Golden Girl do you think or do you feel? Do you know the difference? How often are you aware of which you are doing. These are non-trivial questions and essential to our enjoyment of life.
I am male and typically like most males if you ask us the question “what are you feeling” the answer will begin with the words “I think that…”. How comical that even when asked a direct question as men we typically resort to our thoughts more so than our feelings. But does it serve us?
When I was first learning to accept and then express my emotions during my five and half years of therapy I was very glad that the base emotions can be classified into 4 general categories. It makes it easier when I am talking to other men to ask “are you mad, sad, glad or afraid”. When the other guy looks puzzled I always explain that our previous teachings were incorrect. I had often defined male emotions as fun, Mr. Happy, angry and did I mention Mr. Happy? Any feeling which was not fun was cleverly disguised with anger or preferably at any given time if Mr. Happy could be engaged then really nothing else mattered. I can hear you guys laughing already. We know ourselves and have only fooled the womenfolk into believing otherwise….smile.
But all kidding aside it is time for the menfolk to “man up” to our emotional makeup. I have a little bit of an exercise to suggest you do (if you are male, or thinking of becoming male, or have been a male in this lifetime or any of the previous three incarnations or if you have ever talked to a person of the male persuasion). Calling all men, read and follow the simple instructions below.
For the next day you are not allowed to start or finish any sentence with the word “you”. Talking about others will no longer distract you from yourself. If you notice yourself talking about, analyzing, discussing or commenting on anothers emotions immediately switch to your own perspective. Each sentence must start with the words “I am feeling” (and remember your categories of mad, sad, glad or afraid). I promise for some of you it will be like a silent retreat. You will find large swaths of your day with nothing to say, but lots to think about. Depending on how easily you can pick and state the 4th word (I am feeling ______) will let you know how deep into your thoughts, as opposed to your feelings, you really are. It gets easier…I promise.
I only know how to do this exercise because I have done it myself for years. It started in therapy but it is so easy to keep doing it now whenever I think to “test” myself. How easy it is for me to talk about others feelings, to have thoughts sometimes even judgments about another. Yet how difficult it can be to “man-up” to my own emotions. If you, like me, have ever thought men just “suck it up” then know that you, like me, have been kidding yourself. We are human first and men second. Real men don’t “suck it up” they “let it out” in a real and authentic way.
So gentlemen. You have your instructions. They are easy to follow. Now “man-up” and head “him” off at the pass and let the real you out into world.