Freeing Men To Show Up

It seems that many men feel pressure to take one of two directions in life: they either become passive (are symbolically castrated) or they utilize their power, their strength in a way that is dominant and controlling. Is there not a safe, in between for men? There is great difficulty in being able to hold these two extremes in tension; to be strong, not controlling, to be flexible, not a door mat. In the wide gap between the two, there is vulnerability and instability—two states of being that men have learned are not okay. Isn’t that what our society teaches? Men, don’t be vulnerable-be strong! Don’t cry, be a man. You better have life figured out. What’s the result? Polarization of the men in our society, men who are disconnected from their heart, men who don’t try due to the enormous pressure, the incredible expectations, the impossible standards. There is an imbalance in our society, that men are not allowed to experience their emotions, especially not the confusing or ‘weak’ emotions like sadness or fear.

The social outside pressure of always having to have everything ‘together’ and be strong is an overwhelming sense of responsibility that has unattainable expectations. So what can a man do? The countless expectations and responsibility in being a husband, a father, and having to be successful in work can feel to the man that he has little room to bring forth who he really is. I ask, where is it OK for men to ‘let down their guard’? Is it in their homes? In some, yes. In others, this is the most dangerous place! So what option do men have? They may hide or they may become consumed with activities, hobbies, addictions… Somewhere they can just ‘be’, no performance, no expectations, and no demands. If they’re lucky, it’s a place where they can be validated as well.

I believe that men have an incredible strength and rootedness to offer that this world desperately needs. Our world, our businesses, our government, our families, our women, our men, our children, are all in desperate need of deeply rooted, strong men. However, we cannot continue to perpetuate the same myths of what “strength” means in our men. Strong does not equal unfeeling, completely confident, or completely stable. Strength is a wild combination of gentleness and boldness, of tenderness and conviction.

In all of this, I wish to be an advocate for men—but not to give permission to men to stay disengaged from their heart. Oh no. When a man can be seen in his worst, in his weakest, admitting to insecurity and doubt, he is engaging his heart (the very source of life within us!). A man must be able to unveil the pain foremost. So how do we support our men in a way that receives them, shows understanding, but does not make excuses and thus allow them to continue remaining on either extreme, to remain disconnected from others and from their own hearts? I think men thirst to be understood. They deeply want to be seen for who they truly are, neither who they are striving to be nor what their performance shows. When they are seen, validation is huge. Are they okay, just as they are? Are they ‘enough’? They’re not only enough, they are so much more! Once a man’s heart is seen and validated, then they are inclined to come to life, to show up for the people in their life. It is as if, once they shake off the shackles of shame, self-doubt, and contempt, they are finally free to begin the pursuit of SHOWING UP for the world. And how magnificent this is!

"The most important marriage skill is listening to your partner in a way that they can't possibly doubt that you love them. --"  Diane Sollee

" When unconditional love is put into action, it truly is the 'cure' to creating peace in the home. It simply takes learning how to put it into action. Traditional parenting techniques are fraught with fear, disguised as love. Shifting your perspective to allow the light of love to overcome the darkness of fear is the only way.--" Heather Forbes

Brighton Family Counseling LLC

55 South 4th Avenue,

Brighton, CO 80601

Phone. 720-373-5731