Most men have been trained to either disregard their emotions or hold them in. We’ve been taught that they are feminine and get in the way of rational thinking or getting the job done. This creates huge problems in the lives of most men. Emotions are a vital part of being human and if you disregard them you lose a significant part of life.In order to be a Solid Man you must learn to respect, become aware of and exercise your emotions.
This post outlines a simple method of understanding and practicing emotional awareness. Often the main emotions men experience are anger, frustration and it is like you are on fire. So, when you are on fire you’ve been taught to...
Stop, Drop and Roll – three basic steps toward emotional-awareness
Step #1 – Stop: Identify Your “Flag” Emotions – When you have any intense feeling, the first thing to identify is what I call a “Flag” emotion. These emotions are like red flags waving in your face or a flashing light on your dashboard alerting you to check your engine. Flag emotions are hard, tough, hot and they are kind of in your face. You feel them rising up in you. There is really only one purpose of a flag emotion; to alert you that something important needs attention in your heart. Anger, irritation, frustration, jealousy, rage, annoyance, and impatience are examples of flag emotions. Tears, resentment, anxiety, shame, contempt, scorn, clinginess, grudge-holding are examples as well. When a flag emotion shows up; notice it, recognize it has done its job by alerting you and then set it on the shelf. Don’t move out of this emotion or allow it to run the show; do your best to breathe deeply, set it aside and go to step #2. When you let flag emotions guide you and you move out of anger or whatever it is, you will always miss what you need to attend to. And as you certainly know, moving out of these emotions relationally creates a head-butting road to nowhere. Think about it this way, if you are on fire – Stop, Drop and Roll. Flag emotions are like fire, when you are on fire; Stop, take a breath and set the flag emotion on the shelf. Since you have been trained to let flag emotions run your life, this step is really difficult at first. Practice taking deep breaths, splashing water on your face, take a minute to cool or some do other soothing practice. You’ll get better at this as you practice and you’ll actually find out that anger is your friend; you’ll begin to trust that when you are angry, there is a reason. Remember that this is a path to peace and freedom.
Step #2 – Drop: Identifying Core Emotions – The flag emotion alerts you to find what is going on deeper in you, to help you discover your “Core” emotions. Core emotions are deeper, softer and they guide you toward what has substance and meaning in your life. Let me repeat that; core emotions help guide you to discover what has substance and meaning in your life. Men need substance and meaning in our lives. So now “Drop” deeper into your heart and pay attention to what is going on inside of you. Core emotions exist deep in you in what has commonly been called your heart or soul. This is where meaning and life is found; so it may take some work to identify them, especially if you’re not well-practiced in this. Once you find them, however, you’ll begin to see that you have themes that develop. You’ll have about 3-6 primary core emotions. Disrespect, worthlessness, belittled, alone, deflated, fear of something, devalued, powerless, misunderstood, accused, not listened to, emasculated, or lost are just a few examples of core emotions. Even with core emotions, don’t move from them either. Emotions are not designed to guide how we move; they are only indicators of our state of being. It is good to talk about core emotions with those you trust and love. Again, identifying core emotions may be difficult since men usually have not been encouraged to feel, let alone to feel deeply. Take time to get proficient at feeling deeply, taking the time you need to identify what the feeling is like and then putting a word to it. Identifying them and talking about them is very healthy and has positive relational results, but that’s not the end goal. So breathe deeply again and roll on to step #3.
Step #3 – Roll: Identifying Wants/Needs – This is actually the most profound part of this process and may actually be the easiest. You will be finding out what you want. Remember “wanting” has probably been taboo for you; you can’t be selfish or a burden. Wanting is an important part of being human. Another word for wanting is desire. In order to identify what you truly desire you’ll need to take more time, space, contemplation to give this the energy it needs. Once you have found your core emotion “Roll” toward your core needs/wants. Finding wants and needs will become easier, even second nature; but for now give it the practice you need. Take the core emotion and translate it to what you want or need. For example let’s say your flag emotion is irritation because your woman is sarcastic about you going fishing with your friends. So the core emotion might be, “I feel belittled”. When you feel belittled, what do you think you want or need? For this example, let’s say, “I want to be respected” or “I want you to understand my needs”. Another example; your flag emotion is anger, it’s something your spouse said. Your core emotion might be, “I feel accused or deflated”. So when you feel deflated, what do you think you want or need? It may be, “I want to be appreciated or acknowledged”.
This is a simple process, but is difficult if you have never had permission to consider emotions or wants. Give it the energy, time and practice it deserves, don’t give up. This takes practice, but you can do it. It is easier if you are working and learning together with your loved one. Have a respectful signal (Time out!) to use when one of you is on fire with a flag emotion, then work together to go through the steps. Soon you’ll see the recurring themes and you’ll have a strong list of 5-6 wants or needs.
Examples: I want to feel respected, I want affirmation/appreciation, I want to be wanted, I need physical touch (non-sexual and sexual), I want freedom, I need to have space, I want to be listened to, I need you to trust me, etc…
Once you have a list you’ll be able to know your wants in real time and you’ll be able to communicate your core emotions and wants as things are actually happening. Let your wants and needs guide what you do and how you move in life.