Boys don’t cry – men do
My emotions belonged to me
From an early age, I learned that as a boy, it was not appropriate to show weakness, express your emotions, or even cry. I was frowned upon; I was laughed at. Over the years I built a protective armor around myself. My emotions belonged to me. Yes, there were times, many times, when I felt sad and despairing and I didn’t dare talk about it, let alone express it. I “controlled” my emotions, kept them in check.
Building (a false sense of) resilience
In retrospect, I understand that this controlling taught me to overcome many disappointments, process them, cope with them, and then look forward. Instead of letting myself down, I developed the basic attitude of “now more than ever.” Not stubbornness or obsession, but resilience, perseverance, goal and result orientation. These were and are indeed good and strong virtues. They helped and still help me to achieve many things in my life.
On the other hand, the armor of control and protection around me caused something in me to wither away. Something very, very precious: my naturalness.
Unleashing my authenticity
Let’s face it: emotions are nothing to be ashamed of. They are something fundamentally human. If I try to suppress or control them, I also suppress the humanity, the naturalness in me. What remains has nothing to do with authenticity, but rather something to do with an artificial role.
I let social norms shape a machine rather than a human being
That’s why the traditional social norm “boys don’t cry” is absolute nonsense. And it leads in the completely wrong direction. Controlling emotions, human emotions and outbursts by taking away their space does not lead to a masculine and strong personality, but rather to a cold and mechanical role.
Finding strength in my own vulnerability
Showing vulnerability is therefore not a sign of weakness. It is a sign of being human, of naturalness and therefore a sign of strength. And it is an expression of maturity. Hence, “Boys don’t cry – men do!“
The American poet In-Q describes this transformation beautifully
is like confining myself
so I un-defined myself
to find myself”
What have you done or what are you doing to find yourself?
And how do you create the necessary space and support for others to do so?
This is an excerpt from my book “Human Business” published in German by Haufe Verlag, Munich, in November 2020. Please contact me for a free translated manuscript.