Yes my fellow males, it's ok to show emotion and share our feelings. I know it's hard, but why? Well most of us were programmed at a very young age that 'boys don't cry' or to 'suck it up' when we fall. Most of us don't even smile on pictures because we watched various males in our lives show how 'strong' they are by not smiling with the camera flashes (regardless of how happy we may feel inside).
Little boys watch the men in their life and they imitate them...generation after generation, cycle after cycle until we end up with a community full of men who can't adequately express what's going on inside. Many times this ongoing suppression comes out in a bad way, like anger and aggression. Even our fear and anxiety can manifest themselves as aggression or bad habits if we're not taught how to express and manage what we're experiencing.
The first time I cried, it seemed strange to me. I felt weak.
I was a kid who'd been told many times to stop crying so when I did, I felt 'less than'. I couldn't understand it because once I finished, I felt good. I felt better. Like I released something...dare I say AN EMOTION!
We suffer from a lot of mental issues because our brothers, sons, our uncles, our fathers were never able to get the proper help or guidance. Particularly in the African American community. It's ok to say you need help. It's ok to express an emotion that typically would be seen as you're weak. It's not ok to let your emotions build up to the point where you're hurting internally and expressing that hurt externally in non-productive ways.
Being vulnerable does not mean or make you weak.
We're coming to the end of Mental Health Month and approaching Father's Day. I encourage each person reading this to take action. If you're a male and you know you're not in control of your emotions, whether that means you're keeping things in or you're lashing out, get help to assist you with learning techniques for identifying your triggers and managing how you express them. If you're a partner supporting a man going through this challenge, please encourage him to by:
Continuously reaffirming it's OK to express his feelings
Helping him connect with someone that can help him deal with his feelings
Being a positive and safe place for him to come
Let's change the narrative! Be EXPRESSIVE. Be TRANSPARENT. Be VULNERABLE.