Do you find yourself in any of these situations?
- You’re with someone who is upset, and you’re unable to “control” them
- Needing to stop and think about how to speak emotionally; that is, you don’t know the answer to the question, “How do you feel?”
- Doing damage control over something you said or did
If you have ever been in any of those situations, you aren’t alone. Men are often emotional intellectually deficient, but it’s not our genes. It’s our training. Or, more accurately, lack of it.
What Masculine Emotional Intelligence™ gives you
Would you like to be able to be present with your partner when she’s upset and you’re calm? Would you like to stay emotionally connected with her so the two of you can resolve the issue?
How about this: your boss asks you to meet with him or her in one hour. Wouldn’t it be great if, rather than spending that hour panicking, wondering what s/he needs to talk you to about, you’re just excited about the opportunity to connect with him/her around your passion?
You emotions can be your allies. They don’t have to sabotage you; they can give you an edge in interactions with others. Neither you nor anyone else needs to be at the mercy of your unpredictable emotions. You can actually enjoy their unpredictability.
It’s not you, it’s the culture
First you must realize that, as a man, your emotional intelligence disadvantage is not genetic, it’s learned. Or more accurately, it was not learned.
For centuries, men relegated emotions to women. As men we had to shut down our emotions to get our work done. The ultimate example is war. A soldier who is emotional is a liability for himself and his buddies.
What we’ve learned about emotions, we learned from women. They are the experts, and they did a good job teaching what they knew–but that means the emotional intelligence we did learn was from a feminine perspective. There’s nothing wrong with that prospective… if you are a woman. For a man it’s limiting if it’s the only perspective.
What we were taught by our mothers and teachers, then by our partners, felt off to us. It didn’t really fit for us men. We want to be emotionally intelligent – but we just can’t do it like women. It comes across as forced and fake because it is. A man trying to be emotional the way a woman is emotional doesn’t feel right for men, and no amount of “practice” or “therapy” will make it fit.
Developing your Masculine Emotional Intelligence™
Your masculine emotional wisdom is in part instinctual. Buried within you are the instinctual urges to respond as a man. When you let go of what others told you was the way to be emotional, you allow your masculine response to develop. I’m not talking about becoming some macho idiot; I’m talking about relaxing in to what you are really feeling and expressing it.
Masculine Emotional Intelligence™ represents what it means to be a man whose emotions are your allies. You build on general emotional intelligence with the essence of masculinity. You are your own man.
Like learning any skill, in the beginning it will be a little rough. You will fumble, make mistakes and create a little collateral damage. Whatever chaos you produce, if you are coming from a place of honesty and truth, not trying to inflict pain, you will ultimately be accepted by the people who truly love you because they will see how you are attempting to learn a new skill.
The short course:
- Feel your emotions and your body’s experience of them.
- Be OK
- Be ok with your emotions, learn to accept them.
- Once you feel them, express them – both the good and the bad.
- Risk sharing your emotions beyond your previous boundaries. It’s not about going into some tirade of reactions; it’s about being vulnerable as your express.
As you practice this simple ritual you will learn Masculine Emotional Intelligence™ just as if you were learning to improve your golf game. As with golf, you will have your good and bad days. Because you are doing it regularly you will see steady improvement.
There are more posts, resources and the Toolbox of Change on this site that you can use to assist your learning. Every man can do it. Every man needs to do it if he wants to have a remarkable life and a remarkable family.
To shorten the trial and error period, I suggest you get help. First you can read up on what it is to be an emotionally intelligent man. I couldn’t find one book that directly addresses this topic, so I wrote mine, which will be coming out soon. Until then read Dan Goleman’s book on Emotional Intelligence for an overview. There are a few books out there by men on being a man (see my resource page).
Power up on Masculine Emotional Intelligence™
The best way to speed up and actually make it fun is to join a micro-community of men. A good men’s group will model Masculine Emotional Intelligence™. The men in your micro-community will also give you feedback on your skills.
Most of our fathers weren’t around all day when we were kids, and when they were, they didn’t know any more about being a smart man than we do today. We come from a lineage of fathers who didn’t know. We were masculine emotionally deprived simply because we were lacking male role models.
A men’s group will give you a fun and deep way to experience what you didn’t get as a boy and now as a man. Wherever your masculine emotional maturation was lacking, you will have an opportunity to learn it. The collective whole of your group has a collective male consciousness that no one man processes. Over time you will become emotionally brilliant.
To prevent future relationships from going bad, to learn to respect feminine emotional intelligence but unlearn it as your means of expression, and to learn what works – man up. Put in the effort – take the risks to learn Masculine Emotional Intelligence™.
Don’t listen to women when they tell you to be emotional. Stop and listen to yourself. What are your emotions telling you? Express them. Women can push us. They love us. They want us to get smart with our emotions. Realize their need and desire comes from a good place. Their suggestions of how to do it are often from their feminine prospective. Their well-meaning suggestions of how to change might not always be the best advice for you. Learn the masculine way to be emotionally intelligent. Both of you will be happier than you can image from improving your Masculine Emotional Intelligence™.
When you learn your natural way to be emotional your emotional encounters with both men and women will be fun. Take if from a guy who was as rigid as can be and first learned how to be emotional from women – when you plug into your Masculine Emotional Intelligence™ you will rock. Emotional encounters will be an invigorating ski run.
Women will not only be attracted to you, they will feel safe with you. Your sons will learn a new legacy. You will have a powerful tool on your tool belt.
It’s good to ask for help. Let us know how it goes.
Photo by Hartwig HKD via Compfight