What men CAN do!
By David Finch
In my experience, men suck at dealing with emotions. Especially their own.
We like to think we’re strong. Invincible. Need to keep emotions in check. Can’t cry. Don’t need to talk to other men about feelings. That we don’t have emotional needs.
Wrong. Nope. What? Yes you can. Incorrect. Of course we have feelings.
“Quit feeling sorry for yourself,” is an old saying. But it’s wrong. “Woe is me” isn’t a good long-term strategy, but “feeling for yourself” is the only way to live.
“Real men don’t cry,” is another guy script. But actually, real men DO cry. When a friend dies, or someone gets cancer, or when things are hard. Even when we are happy.
Men can’t always be powerful, in control and solving things. Doing stuff.
One friend recently asked me what to do when I vent about the hardships in my life. My wife died recently, and he keeps trying to help me. We do stuff together, go for a beer and hang out. We’ve built boats together. Talk about women.
But he can’t solve my problem. My wife and best friend is dead. He can’t offer suggestions on how to get though this crisis – he’s not been where I am. And besides, there’s no checklist to tick off when a loved one dies. No solution. Stuff happens.
But he can listen. Not try to solve. Notice his own uncomfortable emotions. Laugh at my dumb jokes. Help me solve a tool problem. Just be a friend.
Men can help each other when they can’t “do” anything. Or fix anything.
Initiate – A text or phone call. An invitation to lunch or a beer or a walk.
Be there – Nothing hurts more than feeling that I’m all alone.
Call me out – When I pretend I’m fine but everything about me screams “I’m going crazy” then a brave friend asks, “What’s happening today?”
Talk about the future – Sometimes it’s easy to get stuck in today.
Suggest a book or a movie – Stories about how other people got through hard times can be inspirational. Instructional. Entertaining. Or at least distracting.
Stay in contact – Feeling like no one cares is excruciating.
Work on your own stuff – The more comfortable I get with living my whole range of emotions the easier it is for me to be okay when someone else is having a hard time.
Sometimes all you can do is sit there and say, “Yeah, it sucks!”
Editor’s note: These tips can apply to anyone, not just men.
Thank you David for sharing your story and tips on how to “be there” – so simple yet so important.