Hi this is Paul (the male half of Conscious Cuts!). I’d like to share with you something quite intimate. I realised quite recently a shocking thing about myself as a man. I realised I was afraid of other men. It was something I’d always known but never really admitted to myself.
This is because, as a boy, I was not allowed to own my emotions. It’s a cliché, that thing about boy’s don’t cry. But as the writer David Foster Wallace once noted, the thing about clichés is that – more often than not – they turn out to be true.
Growing up the message I got from the adults around me was: you’re a boy, don’t admit to weakness. The repercussions of this kind of conditioning are terrible. As I grew up I learned to detach from my emotions. In mindfulness, learning to create separation from yourself and your emotions is a good thing. But you can only do this by first acknowledging and accepting the emotion. Otherwise it’s just dissociation.
Whereas I learned to tell myself I wasn’t feeling anything. To go numb. I became so adept at this that when emotions came up I couldn’t even say what I was feeling, so hidden was the true source.
A couple of weeks ago I went on an extraordinary weekend run by the Mankind Project. They have existed for about 30 years during which
time it’s been their mission to help men overcome all this toxic conditioning that has kept us emotionally under-developed and cut off from ourselves and from other men.
During that weekend I was re-introduced to the little boy that I was. The extraordinary and beautiful little child whose emotional needs had gone unmet for far too long. I can’t tell you what it meant to me to be given permission to validate that little boy. To honor him and by so doing remember that he is still a part of me. I also can’t tell you how healing it is to be able to look in to the eyes of another man and see love shining out, and to feel no shame in this process.
One of the books in the upcoming STORIES FOR BEING collection is about a little boy who keeps running away from his emotions until he finally recognises the only way to deal with them is face them. It took me 30 years to begin learning this lesson. To begin letting go some of that fear.