Men and Their Emotions.
“A young man who doesn’t cry is a savage. An old man who can’t laugh is a fool.” - Richard Rohr
Will Smith, are you listening?
When it comes to emotions, women express, and men suppress. The social science literature is pretty clear on this, but, of course, individuals vary. I’m particularly impressed by the men who come to MEA (almost ⅔ of our alums are women) since they are on a path less traveled by their brethren back at home.
Devotees of psychologist Carl Jung suggest that four archetypes define mature men: the warrior, the lover, the magician, and the king. I recently spent a birthday weekend with Christian mystic Richard Rohr, a long-time fan of Jung, and we talked about how each of these male archetypes processes their emotions.
The warrior outguns. The lover “out-funs.” The magician “out-runs.” And the king cannot be “out-done” because they’re always in charge. Whether it’s competition, pleasure, avoidance, or ego, we men have many ways to separate ourselves from our emotions.
So, what’s a man to do?
Well, when it comes to emotions, “doing” is not the solution. “Doing” means we likely don our archetype wardrobe and lose our “being’s” sense of what we’re feeling. I like to think of my emotions as messages that give me the freedom to respond rather than the obligation. Fear protects. Regret teaches. Sadness releases. Joy uplifts. Empathy unites.
Unfortunately for all of us—men and women—gravity shapes our emotional selves. Emotional baggage is a form of gravity; we acquire more of it as we get older, and it weighs us down. The more emotional gravity we’re fighting, the more force we require to move forward. And force moving against gravity creates a lot of friction. This is why men have the most revelatory MEA experiences: they realize how much emotional baggage they’ve been carrying and feel a kind of archetype-free freedom they haven’t felt since puberty.
Will Smith, are you ready for your MEA workshop?
So, what do you say, all you brave MEA men out there? Tell us a few stories about how you’ve developed a midlife adult relationship with your emotions. Our community needs more role models—men who can teach other men how to let go and feel their feelings.
And, I’d highly recommend you consider Super Bowl champ Aaron Taylor’s upcoming June 12-19 Baja workshop “You Are NOT Your Title: Finding Joy in a Career Swerve.” He’s one of my male role models when it comes to emotions.