"You’re acting like a girl.”
“Crying is for sissies.”
For generations, men have been told to man up and stuff their emotions down. Crying is weak, feelings are for sissies, emotions make you soft- or so we’ve been told.
Growing up, I often heard those shame-filled phrases tossed around.
If I’m being honest with myself, I barely felt anything from the age of 12 to 18. I ran to anything and everything to numb my pain-filled world – pornography, school, work, food, and more.
I barely felt anything from the age of 12-18.
I was told by culture that a "real" man doesn’t have emotions. The movies, the media, and the men in my life all confirmed this to be true.
What these "man up" people were really saying was, “I don’t want you to have emotions because I’m terrified of my own pain, and if you show me yours, I’m afraid that I’ll have to face my pain and deal with my crap too.”
Before I continue, I have to point out that yes - there are many modern day wimps and wusses who have no idea what true masculinity looks like - they live by their emotions instead of their character and integrity - an extremist pendulum swing reaction to the other side of the fence. But that’s a topic for another day.
If a man has to “tough it out” and “be a man” when he’s in a place of brokenness or pain, he has no place to go to process his pain and is left imprisoned in his own emotions.
Crying is manly!
Crying is a huge part of processing. Life is filled with low moments, hurts from the past, current struggles and pains – and if we don’t allow ourselves to feel those things, we remain trapped inside of our pain, which only hurts more in the long run.
For too long, we men have been terrified of crying – especially in front of other men.
Women have this thing figured out, certainly a lot better than men have. They aren’t afraid of the tears.
Pain needs to be felt, not run from!
I propose that "man up" needs a new definition. It needs to include vulnerability, tenderness, emotions. Man up means strength in weakness, courage in vulnerability, and healing through tears.
Now that's real masculinity.
Crying is one of the absolute most powerful ways that we heal. If you can't remember the last time you cried, that's your check engine light screaming at you to do something!
If I go for two weeks without a good cry, I know something is probably off. Two weeks is my thermometer.
If the idea of crying or showing your emotions terrifies you, run at that fear! A man trapped inside of his emotions is a prisoner to himself. Don't let yourself stay in that prison. Break free and live the life you are destined for!
Your future is too great to let it become a slave to your past and present pain.
Practical Next Steps
Here’s the challenge for you men (and women too): stop running from your past and your pain!
Allow your heart to feel those things, open up to people you know, love, and trust, and give yourself permission to let the tears flow and let the healing take place. Tears may save your life.