Why Grown Men Should Cry
In International Men's Health week, I am interested to understand how much stigma there still is around men and crying.
How many men were bought up with messages such as “boys don’t cry”, “crying like a girl” or “man up” and are still living with the same belief?”
My guess is that in our society it is still incredibly difficult for men to show vulnerabilities including tears.
There are certain displays of emotions that are acceptable and even encouraged in men such as anger and arrogance.
But others such as crying or showing feelings of hurt or vulnerability have been actively discouraged and even shamed from an early age.
Even though feeling all emotions is an essential part of being human. And crying has been scientifically proven to enhance mood, release toxins and reduce stress.
In order to survive in the world, men have had to learn to bury those parts of themselves they feel ashamed of. And perhaps ridicule others who may remind them of their own shame.
But those more vulnerable feelings need to be released somehow. If they are not being expressed in their pure form through for example tears, they tend to be released in other forms.
One common form is through anger.
If you were bought up to believe that anger is an acceptable emotion, it may feel a ‘safe’ emotion to use as your primary source to express all feelings.
So even if you are feeling hurt or sad or ashamed, it is displayed to the world through anger or power.
This could take the form of verbal or physical aggression, or through behaving coldly, withdrawing or being controlling.
Or these feelings may be temporarily numbed through alcohol, overworking, overeating, gambling or substance abuse.
So this week in International Men’s Health week, maybe we should shed a collective tear for the pain and suffering that has been caused by the stigma that crying is weak or unmasculine.
And encourage male family members, friends and colleagues to express their feelings and to seek help and support if they need it.
Let’s start celebrating and rewarding the men in our lives who have the courage to go against the norm and lead the change by example.
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Marie is a BACP qualified counsellor and psychotherapist whose mission is to help you live a happier, more fulfilled life. If you would like to learn more, or are wondering if therapy is the right choice for you, please get in touch for a free 30 minute free telephone consultation.