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Men Of Integrity
I am married to a good man. Together we raised four boys who have become good men. My daughter is about to marry a good man.
And by “good”, I mean men of integrity; men who respect others and who are kind; men who strive to live lives of authenticity; men who live in congruence with the values born of love, peace, respect, and strength.
Men in the News
I know how much we all have heard of, observed, and experienced men who abuse, exploit, and disrespect others.
Men who use the privilege and power of their race, social class, gender, and sexuality to take what they want by leaving a path of destruction.
I acknowledge how this creates systemic-wide problems in our society that need attention, awareness, and commitment to change. I want to continue to do what I can to advance that conversation.
However, in this post, I want to focus on the men I see who care deeply about living lives of integrity.
The Trance of Unworthiness
Both men and women experience this in their lives. Today, my focus is on how this “trance of unworthiness” impacts men.
When Men Struggle
No matter how much men accomplish, how much money they make, how many people they take care of, they often feel a deep sense of unworthiness and inadequacy.
They self-criticize, judge and feel undeserving. They are uncomfortable in asking for things they want. They avoid vulnerability.
Men who are struggling in this way do not express these thoughts and feelings. Instead they keep them hidden and hope that no one can see just how unworthy or scared or inadequate they feel.
In turn, they feel a deep sense of isolation and at times, desperation. It was Henry David Thoreau who said, “The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.” And I believe that this accurately describes the struggle men experience daily.
One Emotion Only
Generally speaking, from birth, men are told that emotions are for girls. They are allowed one emotion: anger. They are taught that every other emotion stay buried and should be ignored, denied, or minimized.
Hopefully, this is changing, but still these messages are deeply embedded in the gender stereotyping that drives how we treat boys and girls.
Being limited to feel only the emotion of anger, leads to a life of imprisonment and disempowerment. And this is where many men live.
Emotional Awareness Required for Intimate Relationships
George Faller, couple and family therapist and former New York City firefighter working in the twin towers after the 9/11 attacks, talks about how men’s ability to bury their vulnerability allows them to function in daily life. Here are some examples:
But Faller highlights that this tendency to bury vulnerability and deny one’s emotions does not work for the long haul because it keeps men from living authentically. It creates barriers to connecting with others and it exacerbates feelings of isolation, depression and anxiety.
Faller emphasizes that when one hides their vulnerability and emotions in intimate relationships this contributes to painful misunderstandings, conflict, and disconnection. And this is what often brings men to therapy.
The Desire for Deep Emotional Connection
When men come to therapy, often they have been struggling in this “trance of unworthiness” for a long time and are desperate to feel better about themselves and within their relationships.
Once invited during the therapy process, men often are willing to explore and describe how much they feel as if they never measure up.
They open up about their desire to create an authentic and deep emotional connection with their partner. And they talk about the pain that comes when they just do not know how to begin this process.
As they open up, what gets revealed is not only their pain and longing, but their deep commitment to living with integrity.
Acceptance, Love, and Peace
As men begin to explore their emotional lives, what they discover are the keys to freedom. Learning how to access, understand, and express their emotions frees them to create authentic lives. They are freed up to accept themselves and others. They are freed up to ask for the love they deserve. They are freed up to cultivate deeper connections with their partner. And with this freedom, true intimacy develops.
And through the therapy process they learn, that, in order to break free and create an authentic life of freedom and intimacy, they must also allow and accept their pain, fear, anxiety, confusion, anger, insecurity and sadness.
Lives Reflective of Integrity
As men allow themselves to feel the full range of human emotions, they build lives of integrity. Lives that reflect congruent values. Lives that reflect their most authentic self. And lives that reflect their highest aspirations.
The work is hard. The journey, at times, uncertain. But when done with the utmost commitment it leads to freedom, to peace and to a more vibrant and satisfying life.
If you would like to begin the process of cultivating emotional awareness, integrity and the freedom to live authentically, please call me today at 253-209-2365 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Peace in the Journey,