Let’s talk about the F word…

So, let’s have a quick chat about that dreaded word that brings shivers down our collective spines, cringing when we hear it and duck-n-cover when it’s uttered out loud…

What word is that you may ask? Feelings…

Yep, not what you thought huh?!

When was the last time you had a heart to heart with your wife, husband, or maybe even your children? Feelings are some things that as men we tend to gloss over, or hide altogether… That is of course unless it’s anger which we tend to exhibit more than talk about. When we are courting our significant other will of course put our best foot forward and think of the most romantic things to say, or the cleverest song lyrics we can drum up, or sometimes we might even write something ourselves. We also tend to notice things like flowers, beautiful sunsets, or just a nice summer evening. This expression generally comes from us feeling happy… When we are happy we tend to gravitate towards things that bring us joy or notice the beauty in things that are around us. Think about the last time you were actually happy! Think about the last time you ever had a genuine belly laugh, where you laugh so hard you had tears in your eyes… Was it long enough ago that you can still remember it or so far back that you can’t even remember what was so funny? Happiness is a curious thing, not to be confused with blissful ignorance, just happiness in general is a very curious feeling… It’s something that is tough to maintain and a lot easier to come by than you might think. More about that later…

Now, let’s think about the other side of this coin, sadness… Can you think about something that makes you very sad? When you are feeling this way who is somebody that you talk to about it? Is there somebody you talk to about your sadness? I could read you the percentages of people that are diagnosed with depression, and contrary to popular believe these people are not always sad… It is important to understand the difference between sadness and depression. Sadness is something that comes and goes while depression is something that lingers and has devastating consequences and effects. It is also important to distinguish between grief and loss. You can lose things like a loved one, your car keys, or even a baseball game… These are accompanied by feelings of loss… But grief is the process we go through when we experience these things, often times they are confused. Communicating these differences to a father or a man is a very crucial component to unlocking the natural progression of these very different processes. It seems simple to me now that I’ve learned over the years that you have to distinguish these things before you can understand how they work. Which is to say we often don’t think about what the difference between grief and loss is, we often don’t think about what the difference between sadness and depression is, we just put our heads down and power through as best we can while telling people “I’m fine”

There are quite a few other feelings we can discuss here not the least of which being anger and disappointment. Anger is another emotion/feeling that can get us into a lot of trouble if we are not aware of how to channel what we are feeling. A lot of the times fear manifests itself as anger, as does sadness, as does disappointment. Anger is the easier emotion to channel. In fact, it’s often the only emotion men are willing to display openly. It’s not something glamorous or even anything to be embarrassed by, but if not it can wreak havoc in your life.

So why do you suppose that anger is the one thing man are willing to display? Why do you suppose that emotion so easily slips itself into our consciousness and allows us to except it? What about anger makes it more… Manly? Which is to say why is it more macho to be angry then to cry? I don’t think it necessarily is more macho to be angry, I think it’s just a shift that our culture has made over time to protect us as men or to shield us so that we can be the pillar in our family and not express what often times is viewed as a weakness… This culture clearly needs to change before we can build on the strength that it gives us.

No let’s move back to joy and happiness. As I’ve said Happiness is very hard to maintain and so therefore it requires a great deal of practice in order for us to be able to hold onto it as long as we possibly can to receive the therapeutic effects of this emotion. It wouldn’t be accurate to state that we can remain happy all the time, that would be a disservice to all the other emotions that we are privileged to feel and express and so therefore the ability to learn and to teach our children or our friends how to interpret these emotions to our benefit would be lost. I suppose the take away from all of this is that you have to be able to express and experience these vast reaching wide ranging emotions to fully appreciate and enjoy the breath of life. As difficult as some of them can be to experience they are part of our experience and so therefore they must be understood as well as recognized for what they are… this is why talking about them is crucial. When our partner, our family or friends know and can see the impact or recognize the signs of trouble not only are we safer and better off in general, we are living a life full measure and in fulfillment! We are enriched by our emotions and they are a blessing on every level. But, when we keep them to ourselves they are poison.

In summation: have that conversation about fear and stress, or grief and loss. Learn to discern the difference together! While you’re at it take the time, every time to tell loved ones that you love them. It just might be what they needed to hear, and when you do express love you are also inviting a feeling in that is elusive more often then not- joy!! Feed your soul a steady diet of gratitude and quiet, and in those moments joy finds you, happiness visits the sated mind and heart dear reader… as does satisfaction.. and in this life, in this world there seems to little kindness to be had. It’s a curiosity that where kindness is it is in abundance, which makes it seems easier to attain but more importantly imperative to spread far and wide. Expressing all ranges of emotion is the treasure is the key, love is the treasure that that lock opens where it is all contained… (::)