It is often said that women show how they feel and men keep their feelings to themselves. And this is surely going to apply to some men and women, but not all of them. It is simply a generalisation and one that allows people to navigate their world more easily.
One reason why it is this way is due to the role that each gender has played for so long. Being a woman has meant that one is allowed to reveal how they feel and this is normal. Where as being a man has meant that one needs to hide their emotions and this is what is normal.
A woman is often expected to look weak and vulnerable, but a man is often expected to appear strong and capable. And when this doesn’t happen, a woman can be seen as not being a women and man can be seen as not being a man.
But as both genders have emotions; these roles have created problems. So while a woman needs to know that it is acceptable for her to embrace her strength; a man needs to know that it is acceptable for him to embrace his vulnerability.
To be human mean that one is made up of a combination of masculine and feminine traits. And so while each gender looks different on the outside, they have a lot of similarities on the inside.
At times it will be necessary for a woman to be strong and times when it will be important for a man to be vulnerable. And when this happens, it doesn’t mean they have changed genders, it means they are embracing each side of their true nature.
So a lot of pressure can arise from ones society and here, men will generally need to hide how they feel and women will be free to express how they feel. But at the same time, society also promotes repression in general.
People are encouraged to cover up how they feel, and therefore it won’t matter what gender someone is. And another factor can be ones social circle and the kind of people they associate with.
There is the chance that the people one associates with also deny how they feel and this then cause’s one to do the same. This is then what feels safe, and if they were to go against this, they might end up being criticised, humiliated or rejected.
If one was to reveal how they feel, they could end up being isolated or to lose the identity that they have within their social circle. This doesn’t mean that one is aware is what is happening either; this may have just happen automatically and out of one’s awareness.
Another factor in whether one feels comfortable showing their emotions will be what their childhood was like. How their caregivers responded to ones emotional expression will play a big role.
These early experiences would have created certain associations, and these associations can then define someone’s behaviour as an adult. As a child, one may have been rejected, criticised or abandoned if they were to show ‘negative’ emotions.
And if they were to show positive emotions, they may have received the same responses. While one might assume that ‘positive’ emotions would be accepted over ‘negative’ emotions, both sides of someone’s emotional spectrum could have been dismissed.
One can then grow up not feeling comfortable showing either positive or negative emotions or they might just feel comfortable showing one side of their emotional spectrum.
So, many years may have passed, but as these early associations are still in place, ones behaviour is still being controlled by what happened all those years ago. If these associations were life enhancing, it wouldn’t be a problem.
If emotions didn’t have a purpose, it wouldn’t matter if one denied them. However, as they are a vital part of life, and what bring life to life, denying them is going to create problems. One can end up not only denying the lows in their life, but also the highs.
Forming deeper connections with others could also be a challenge; as if one is not in touch with their emotions, it can be more or less impossible to create anything other than a surface level connection with someone.
All the time one has the same associations, when it comes to revealing their emotions, they are not going to feel safe showing them. But when they do change what it means for them to reveal their emotions, they will open themselves up to their whole emotional spectrum and be able to form deeper relationships with others.
There will no longer be the need to deny ones feelings, and so one can feel happy when they are happy and sad when they are sad: no longer having to put on an act. At times one might want to hide how they feel, but this will be a choice and not something that just happens to them.
These associations can be made up of beliefs and trapped emotions. So as one changes their beliefs and releases the trapped emotions in their body, they will gradually begin to feel safe.
This can be done with the assistance of a therapist, healer or some kind of coach. Or through engaging in some kind of self inquiry and behaving differently.
Oliver JR Cooper
Author of 26 books, Transformational Writer, Teacher & Consultant.
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That which is contained within these articles is based on my own empirical understanding and is true for me at the time they were written. However, as I continue to grow, what I perceive as the truth will inevitably change and as a result of this - parts of these articles may not reflect my current outlook.