Unfortunately, the stigma regarding men sharing feelings is prevalent in western society, and it's not only the men causing it. When I told several female friends about the work they did, their response was: "Are they gay?"
No one is going to be impressed if you burst into tears during a code review. They're going to be a lot more impressed if you bullshit your way through with positivity and can-do.
This is irrespective of the quality of the code.
This culture rewards overt displays of competitive individualism and punishes weakness irrespective of actual productivity, value, or objective performance.
Generally, being confident gets you breaks, even if you're astonishingly incompetent or just plain manipulative and dishonest.
Sometimes there's pushback from the surrounding culture before something goes horribly wrong - but just as often there isn't.
By acknowledging the possibility that you may have done something wrong, you make yourself vulnerable to judgment, and by doing so confidently you gain respect. Facing judgment is a sign of confidence and it requires making yourself vulnerable.
In a more subtle example, showing signs of vulnerability in personal relations is a way of letting others know you, and that takes courage. There'd be no point to having social interactions if you were invulnerable, any interaction would literally be inconsequential for you and thus unmotivated.
You "dress up" the vulnerability with a higher level strength (e.g. the capacity to listen to and analyze your own shortcomings), and then it's all good.
There's a difference between being vulnerable, and putting yourself in a situation that will hurt you. It's fine to show yourself vulnerable if you can do so in a way that incentives good behavior from your peers.
It gets you breaks until you reach the line which people don't want you to cross (which you will eventually cross due to your ever-inflating ego). At which point everyone you know will silently isolate you and you'll not even be able to realise what happened in time (again, due to your overly-inflated ego).
I had seen that happen. People who are full of shit always have a glass ceiling, since they are even more useless than people who are willing to directly do bad to other people (at least those are more-or-less clear in terms of the direction they take).
Are you joking? Yes - she was the CEO, but she's also facing up 20 in prison after being that CEO .
It's not just about getting to the top. It's about whether you'll remain there and whether the history will try to forget you as soon as it can.
Can you please edit swipey bits out of your posts to HN? Your comment would be fine without that.
I think "confidence" is rooted in the belief that "whatever happens, I'll be able to handle it. I'll be okay." Showing confidence is externally-emoting as if you believe that to be the case.
Vulnerability...I'm less sure of. I think it is the ability to be wounded. By being vulnerable, you reveal information which someone else could use to ridicule you. Patrick Lencioni's work on organizational health refers to vulnerability as a key piece of building trust. How does it work? By showing that you expect that people hold a social norm against ridiculing people for the thing you reveal. That you are willing to pay a cost for that social norm. I think when people use the word "vulnerability", they mean sticking your neck out for a social expectation of compassionate collaboration -- norm-building vulnerability.
And that sort of vulnerability is compatible with confidence. If they do ridicule you, then you've learned what sort of person they are and you have the power to respond accordingly.
But I think its easy to confuse norm-building vulnerability with another vulnerability: insecurity-revealing vulnerability. This is where you present something that could genuinely hurt your sense of belonging -- Information which you think others could present as evidence that you should be ostracized from a group. For example, a man in a homophobic environment who reveals that he is bisexual. How should a man express these sorts of insecurities? By default, he shouldn't. He should hide them until he can find a supportive community. Unless he's with someone he already trusts or a mens' meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous. Don't express insecurity-revealing vulnerability.
 https://www.tablegroup.com/newsroom/news/vulnerability-endea... is an example, but he talks about the concept in The Advantage and his novels.
It doesn't have to be like this. Vulnerability doesn't have to be a weakness, showing your emotions can be a masculine trait. We're not defined by, nor locked into, our traditional cultural values and norms.
It's different to having a norm for admission of weakness being a marker of strength due to the courage required in the act, similar to how it takes strength for an addict to admit they have a problem and go get help. You want to normalise talking to someone about your problems with a view to improving the situation. You don't necessarily want to recast addiction (a weakness that you wouldn't wish upon someone you love) as strength, as a roundabout measure to get people to talk about it more. That just seems liable to backfire.
> capable of being physically or emotionally wounded
That can certainly be interpreted as a weakness. And it certainly is for things like vehicles, buildings, etc. But in the case of humans, vulnerability only means "weakness" when said human is perceived as an object, a means to an end, perhaps in a business transaction. The fact is that humans are in their most fundamental sense defined by the capacity to be physical and emotionally wounded. Therefore the term, being vulnerable, when used to describe a human attitude rather describes that person's expressed transparency to their innate humanness. As per this thread, more often men deny their vulnerability as if they cannot be emotionally wounded, which leads to a denial of their selves as a whole. Having the capacity to be emotionally wounded says absolutely nothing about somebody's emotional strengths and weaknesses, because we can all be equally wounded. Being vulnerable however potentially indicates a person's willingness to be transparent about their inner experience, namely their emotions, which can be anything from being overwhelmed to rage.
While I originally saw this discussion chain as you playing devil's advocate, I realize now you've done a good job helping reframe the scenario in a much better light. For most people (including myself), we don't separate emotional honesty from vulnerability because emotionally we _are_ vulnerable. Working towards a sense of self that is comfortable with emotional reviews that are as intense as a code reviews is something worth striving for.
Me saying that being vulnerable is a good thing is not the same thing as saying that addiction is a good thing. Addiction is what happens when we as a society can't talk about feeling vulnerable! That's the entire problem in a nutshell. The problem doesn't start with addiction, addiction is the self-medication people apply because they can't be vulnerable enough to talk about what's really hurting them inside.
When a person feels sad they should feel free to express this emotion (i.e. be vulnerable) instead of having to suppress it to live up to society's ideals about emotional expression.
Somehow you have to both express your emotions and that you are still highly effective. That you can't be exploited, a potential pushover, or a loose cannon for your emotional expression.
Yes, as it stands now what you say is true. Men derive personal power from stoicism and emotional suppression, our primary value is in how effective we are at shutting down non-essential aspects of ourselves and giving ourselves over entirely to whatever endeavor (usually work). We're also taught that we're entirely replaceable: if you can't put up the numbers, we'll swap you for someone who can.
That is reinforced by our suppression of emotion, as that reduces us completely to whatever output society can get from us. If all you are is a highly efficient machine producing value, swapping you out requires no thought or emotion whatsoever. If you're a complete person with feelings and relationships with your fellow humans, you're no longer replacing Carl - The Production Machine, you're replacing Carl - our co-worker/friend/partner that you've an emotional history with.
But what if we imagine a healthier tomorrow? A world where men can express all of their emotions. Where we're no longer reduced to our most basic aspects and valued from what we can produce, but instead seen as complete persons with a full range of emotions.
All over the world men outdistance women in the number of successful suicide attempts by a wide margin. Some say it's because men tend to choose direct and effective methods (guns, hanging, etc.) whereas women tend to choose slower and less effective methods (pills, etc.). But it's also because there is almost no mental health discourse among men. We're taught to suppress our emotions and to never, ever, show them for fear of being labeled weak and replaceable. When we get to low points in our lives our first instinct isn't to reach out to a friend, family, or professional mental health services. Our first instinct is to suppress and deal with it on our own because that's what we're taught our whole lives.
When we stumble and can't do it on our own, nobody has a clue what we're going through because we're so good at suppressing it and so we feel totally alone and helpless. Is it a surprise that so many of us choose to eat a bullet?
Emotional discourse needs to change. Mental health discourse needs to change. People are literally dying over this.
There is a concerted effort at social engineering so powerful that now the very word meanings are challenged. Vulnerability is always, unequivocally a weakness. It's the very definition of the word.
Redefining vulnerability as strength is exactly 1984's Doublespeak.
Therefore all humans are vulnerable. Where strength vs. weakness enter into it is how one deals with one's vulnerability. That gets complex. Is denial strength or weakness? Maybe both.
They didn't assert that, though. They said that confidence is rewarded while vulnerability and weakness aren't. If anything, their description implies a distinction between vulnerability and weakness.
I took their statement to be primarily about perceptions. That anything people perceive as a lack confidence is penalised.
Say you're in a group situation and it is affecting you in some way that's not ok—not merely annoying, but touching something of deep importance in your experience. If you bring that information into the group and state what you're experiencing, you make yourself vulnerable. That takes confidence and strength. Then it takes strength to face the effects of that action, whether in the group or from an authority. And another strength too: by speaking of what you're personally experiencing, rather than accusing others of doing something wrong in the abstract, you preempt many conflicts that would otherwise arise. That is self-responsible.
To be vulnerable in that way is very much to "support yourself instead of elaborating victimist narratives". The victim reaction would be to say nothing, feel bad, and carry a residue of resentment. That's what most of us mostly do.
Vulnerability that comes from strength does impress others. When someone shows the capacity to speak coherently from a wounded place in a situation where it is called for, the quality that fills the air is dignity. The reactions I've observed in people at moments like that are admiration and a sense their own experience was touched, as if the one who spoke had spoken for them as well.
It's important not to confuse confident vulnerability with reactions that come from unprocessed woundedness getting activated in stressful situations—"bursting into tears during a code review", as a commenter memorably put it. Those reactions may be vulnerable but they don't show vulnerability in the sense of making a conscious choice to show oneself in that moment. They are more like a buffer overflow, with emotional bytes streaming through a breach in one's facade. Uncontained reactions make a situation more complicated because they are usually "too much" for the moment—the energy in them is coming from some other place more than what's happening right now, and not under conditions that offer opportunity for healing. That tends to result in wounds getting repeated rather than integrated.
The reason it's important not to confuse those things is that if you do, you'll probably get stuck with two shitty options: (1) push your pain away even further, stiffen your facade and pretend to be what you're not; or (2) expose yourself in uncontrolled ways that show weakness and that others find unattractive. Actually, you'll probably get stuck with both: #1 as your default and #2 bursting out in stressful moments. (I don't mean "you" personally, but generally, or at any rate about traditional male roles.) An alternative is to stop pushing away pain, face what one is denying, feel it fully and allow whatever happens in response. That brings healing and strength—genuine strength that one can feel in oneself, as opposed to pretend strength that one doesn't really feel. This doesn't happen all at once; it's one piece at a time, but usually each piece provides enough relief that the process sort of 'pays' for itself as it goes.
The other thing is—much as a lot of us, me included, would prefer otherwise—it seems to need to take place in the presence of others. The value of the work described in the OP, or some of it anyway, is that many men who would never otherwise take such a step find it possible to do so in the presence of other men, when the process is organized a certain way. This is a surprising phenomenon—it surprised me anyhow—and I don't think it's widely understood, but it's a good thing to take advantage of if one feels a pull in that direction.
At the same time I do think is totally okay to share that something is affecting you as a men but, if you are a man, is not good to express it from a feminine emotional framework. I has to be somehow preprocessed in a masculine frame:
"hey guys, let me share this with you, listen... I've been experiencing A, B and C and I see is causing D and E and affecting me in this F way... is that okay? Is that what we want? I think if we can review it in this X1 way it will be good because A1, B1 and C1 reasons... but if this isn't going to change I need to know because I'm a man with options and I eventually need to define if this is working for me, so I need to know it"
Btw, joking about bro bits, but also it's true.
If someone keeps confidently asserting that 1+1=3 and then tries to act like he’s my superior, my conclusion is generally that he’s just a moron or is deluding himself.
I had a typo above and wrote 1+1=2 but I’ve had the same situation: someone who is of normal competence keeps repeating things pretty much everyone in the room knows over and over and thinks he’s leading you forward.
There are definitely caveats to this. It has to be done a certain way. It works better when you already have some status. And I'd absolutely agree that society lets women express more vulnerability than men. In a hypermasculine environment like a group of socially clueless 20something males at a tech company, you will probably want to show vulnerability less often.
But with the general population and normal people, it's really fine and even good to show some vulnerability, just do it in the right context.
In other words, it’s not the ”oh my god, my life is crashing, I don’t know what to do, please help me” kind of vulnerability (that one isn’t seen as very attractive or welcomed by the society), it’s the “my life is awesome, except this tiny part, but it’s cool, I’ll manage” kind of vulnerability.
Also a way for people to attack you. A vulnerability is always a weakness, it's the definition of vulnerability.
You are talking about faking a vulnerability, a social technique so old that is in Sun Tsu's "The Art of War".
Hell, their recognition of non-binary genders, preferred pronouns, and a singular 'they' pronoun, speaks volumes as to how much ideas around gender and masculinity has changed. Not that long ago, the idea that a person's gender didn't fit neatly into one of two boxes was unthinkinable.
It went like this: it is ok to hold hands with a man (because no one will think you are gay/because no one thinks anyone is gay) -> it is not ok to hold hands (because people will think you are gay) -> it is ok to hold hands (because it would not be a problem if you were gay)
and the last step is still ongoing...
It's funny. From the days of chivalry all the way to the modern patriarchy, men's behaviours have been conditioned by one overriding factor: what will impress women? I don't see that evaporating overnight. Men suppress the emotions for the simple reason that women have demonstrated a preference for men that do that, and this is simply an example of that being made explicit. You could say "this is how the patriarchy harms men!". But it wasn't men who chose it to be this way.
EDIT added 'modern'.
As I think about Asia and Africa, I’m drawing a blank on this. But I’d be happy to be shown wrong.
With regards to martial arts, maybe it just depends on the definition of expressing them. To put them into words, maybe not so much. I remember taking a Krav Maga class and I saw the head trainer go from calm to intensely focused and powerful in a flash, and then back to calm after the exercise. So, for me, he was expressing the emotions physically, just not so much with his words.
At the same time, in other self-defense trainings I've taken, I've seen more emphasis on how to express verbally, lending towards conflict de-escalation.
But I would agree, overall, that most martial arts don't seem to highlight the verbal expression of emotions...but I hope to one day change that. I've been building a martial art/self-defense system that focuses more on responding to emotional attacks, as I believe I'm much more likely to be emotionally attacked than physically attacked.
It's not an emotional attack in the sense that attacks need to be intentional, but tools for recognizing the source of emotions and letting that tension release is a life skill that is not explicitly taught much. I definitely didn't learn it in karate, but I did learn it in meditation practices from other sources. Combining it all holistically would be interesting.
If the State monopolizes violence to the point that we can’t hash things out with our fists, and there’s no room in our society to emotionally vent, then what’s left? It’s not like violence disappeared from society, it just takes different forms when suppressed.
I think with physical violence, it can escalate. You punch me and "win" the fight, next time I come back with a few friends and the fight may get worse over time. And that's just assuming it's only punches. If knives or guns are involved, it can escalate really fast, and perpetuate unresolved for years, if not generations.
And I agree with you that the violence is just taking other forms. One can't punch another, so instead, we shame that person, humiliate them, embarrass them in front of their friends and loved ones. I sometimes have fear of posting on public forums, saying something that will make someone angry, and then receiving an onslaught of comments ridiculing me and beyond.
So while I think some conflict can resolve itself through merely putting on gloves and duking it out, I think more often than not conflict resolves itself much better through communicating in a nonviolent way.
I remember one message from a father to a son, for example, that said "never throw the first punch unless he is X inches taller than you". Of course, this might have been a tad to noble for the time, but still, there were norms.
On the second part, I would say that emotions are often unarticulated, which may be similar to what you're saying. For me, what I've been trying to practice is that when I start to feel angry, to say "I feel angry" instead of "what is wrong with you??" I've noticed in traffic that if someone cuts me off, I'll have a reflex to cuss out the guy or say something about him being an idiot, and then I'll pause and go, "I really just felt afraid that I would crash." I could tell story after story about how the emotion is not being clearly articulated, and that when it is, it can really realign the situation.
But, to quote James Pennebaker, author of Opening Up (a book that I read and loved) and lots of work on journaling and emotions:
"Verbally labeling an emotion is much like applying a digital technology (language) to an analog signal (emotion and the emotional experience)." --from https://c3po.media.mit.edu/wp-content/uploads/sites/45/2016/..., an article I have not yet fully read.
So, in conclusion, maybe my unarticulated is your uncontained analog signal :-D
Regarding the digital technology part, for me it's basically saying that we have this messy, organic, chemical mix of things happening within our bodies, and then we condense all of that into one word, e.g., "happy."
What fascinates me about language, and frustrates me, and does many other things to me, is the fact that when I use the word "happy" it may be describing a different internal messiness than your word "happy," and yet, the more we have in common, the more I will often assume our definitions are the same. I can't tell you how many conflicts in which I've found myself from definitions that I assumed to be shared but were in fact different, e.g., "I'm ready to leave," lol.
"Does distraction or rumination work better to diffuse anger?
Catharsis theory predicts that rumination works best, but empirical evidence is lacking."
On the other hand, I've personally experienced a cathartic process that—as best as one can trace these things—brought real change, so there's no single answer about this.
The LGBT members that don't have those characteristics you would never know they were LGBT.
The Greek concept of sexuality was quite different than ours, and their class system played a very predominant role in what we would call gender. Also, age.
While a woman may have told me "don't cry (or be sad)," "don't be a baby (or express helplessness)," "don't be lazy (or feel too relaxed)," or "stop being so jealous," I have also told people "don't worry," "relax (or don't feel stressed)," "chill out (don't be angry)," and others.
I try as much as I can to let people feel whatever they are feeling, annnnnd I'm still human and project a lot of my cultural expectations on others and myself. Really grateful to have this space on HN for this conversation and to further the conversation :-D
The polite response is something like: "I hear that as shaming, and it offends me."
I have few male friends I can share feelings with and most of the females I've dealt with just don't want this while wishing for men to be more sensible.
One thing I find fascinating about humans is that we are so compulsively cultural that we will actively propagate cultural practices that are harmful even to ourselves. When you are young, you absorb whatever culture is around you completely uncritically, and then you immediately turn around and start broadcasting to the next generation.
Cultural changes and evolves, of course, but it's really hard to uproot a norm or more once it's settled in, even if it's one that causes you personal pain.
Terence McKenna lectured on this at length. Here are some apropos quotations:
"As a global civilization, we can no longer afford the luxury of an unconscious mind. When you can pull down the fusion processes that light the stars on the cities of your enemies, when you can sequence DNA, when you can map the heart of the atom, then it is entirely inappropriate to have an unconscious mind, because the power that is given onto you is a kind of god-like Promethean power. So how can we switch on the lights on our animal nature…? I think it is very simple: we have to de-condition ourselves from culture. We are sick, we require medical intervention… into what is a galloping, cancerous state of neurosis - the growth and spread of ego. Ego is like a calcareous growth in the psyche of human beings, and if it is not treated, it creates the kind of society that we have. A society based on hierarchy, male dominance, accumulation of physical goods,suppression of the weak by the strong… This is why the psychedelics are so socially sensitive, because they dissolve de-conditioning. Every culture is a scam. Every culture is a lie. A shell game, run by weasels, for the amusement of rubes. If you do not want to be a weasel or a rube, then you need to inform yourself of how the shell game works, and what lies beyond the carnival midway of civilized values. And the way to do that is to go back to the plants, to the original gnosis."
"Culture is an effort to satisfy this weird desire human beings have to close off experience, to live with closure, to force closure. That is why cultural trips are so bizarre; why they don't make sense to anybody but the Witoto, or the Guaraní, or the Americans, or the Japanese. If you are not inside a culture, it seems crazy. Cultures do not make sense because they are not trying to make sense. What they are trying to do is produce closure, which then somehow makes a human being, who is living in the light of closure, a more manipulable, a more malleable, a lesser thing… The message coming back at all of us is: live without closure. That is the honest position given that you are some kind of a talking monkey, some kind of a primate, some kind of creature, on a planet, in an animal body,in a time and space. In the face of that, life without closure is the only kind of intellectual honesty there is. If you have to inoculate yourself against the various means of closure that are around,psychedelics do that. That is why they are so politically controversial and potent, because more than any other single act that you may voluntarily undertake, they pull the plug on the myth of cultural meaning."
Terence McKenna: Don't Believe/Follow/Consume/Watch: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kV1RC2zlymQ
Dissolving the egoistic boundaries of society (Terence McKenna): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J7sfZiRLqOE
I think the young execute on a unique position to see the culture of their elders and actively choose to fill spots where it could be improved for their own benefit and drop customs that are no longer worth it.
I don’t know if I believe this in general. Certainly we are happy to utterly change our lifestyles whenever a convenient new technology comes about. How much have smart phones or social media changed us culturally in the spans of a couple decades? If culture can change quickly over convenience, surely actual pain would drive it to change even faster. It seems that those “hard to change” cultural aspects are actually _useful_ in some way, and therefore they survive.
I'm a little confused, who are the they you are referring to? People are hired on to perform tasks in return for remuneration and feelings should be reserved for outside the job. Getting emotionally involved with ones co-workers is a recipe for disaster. If you're ever invited to a workshop on diversity, don't go. James Damore and Professor Alessandro Strumia would know why.
I'm a man who has focused on and has been building tools to get better at expressing my emotions since 2012, including an app called iFeelio, in which I answered the question "how do I feel" over 4,000 times across 4 years and a class called Emotional Self-Defense, which I've run in the US, Europe, and Africa. I have realized and re-realized many things along the way.
One thing I've seen is that each culture seems to have rules about which emotions one is allowed to express and not allowed to express, based on the specific contexts. We often say that men aren't allowed to express our emotions, but I don't think that's the case. We men (in the US) are often allowed to express anger, confidence, feelings of triumph, horniness (maybe), calmness, and maybe even excitement. We're often not allowed to express tenderness, sadness, confusion, uncertainty, fury, etc. And funny enough, when watching our favorite sports team, we're pretty much allowed to express all of the emotions above and more. On the other hand, in the workplace, we're not allowed to really express much at all.
Women may have a different list, as well as people from the Midwest or California, those born in the 60s, digital natives, engineers, or really any different culture or sub-culture.
That being said, I'm glad to see programs like MKP and Evryman providing the place, and moreover, the permission, to express all of the emotions. (Save a Warrior is one I recommend for military vets—I was a witness on one of the programs and it really helped to open my heart and the hearts of the other guys.)
I'd love to chat with anyone on here about this, either in the comments or on Twitter, Telegram, keybase, or whatever people on HN use these days. Check my HN profile for those usernames.
Edit: Moodflow seems like it could be good so I'll try that. Just in case this helps others.
That being said, I have been thinking about how to get it fixed and even develop v2.0, possibly through open-sourcing it. Do you think you or someone else you know might be interested in that?
In the meantime, the magic sauce is really nothing too complicated...I used a note app on Android before developing iFeelio and it worked pretty good.
I would open up the note pad, type down the date, time, 1-3 comma-separated words for emotion, and then 1-2 short sentences about how I was feeling. Similar to an I-statement from NVC.
An example would be:
2019-09-28...01:09...grateful, tired...just checked HN and saw that a few people replied to my comments, and it's also 1am so maybe I should go to bed soon.
I made the app mostly because I wanted to enter the date/time automatically, password protect it, and create some ways for me to sort/filter/search previous entries.
The cult like approach to certainty we see on the web will fade over time as well. Expressions of uncertainty will become more acceptable.
The way to overcome pain is to acknowledge and include it instead of denying it. The difference is huge, and most of us need help to get there—personally contactful help, not idea help. I found it pretty liberating to be able to get such help from other men, in a group no less. The point is not to become a gushy feeling-sharer or a sensitive new-age male. It is to no longer be governed by unconscious feelings and the wounds of early experience.
The organizations that practice this work are not super clear about that distinction, which I suspect limits their appeal to many men. I went because of a friend I respect, who in turn went because of a friend he respects. Had either of us only read an article like this, I doubt we'd have been interested. Its subtle ironizing, which approaches belittling ("chastened menfolk", "There, there"), would have turned me off. The photos would have turned me off too, and I've sat in a lot of workshops (though usually with few men and many women).
Edit: an interesting thing to me was the gap between practice and theory. Even though there were parts of the theory behind that work which I didn't necessarily find appealing, I met quite a few men there who struck me as having a kind of integrated masculinity (maybe not the best phrase, but it's hard to find words for these qualities). They seemed strong and open at the same time. I found myself admiring them and wanting to be more like that myself. None of this had much to do with expressing feelings or being emotional; I would use the word presence instead. They maybe even seemed a bit less emotional than most men I meet—more able to take in what is happening without being reactive.
So I would say the theory doesn't work as well as the practice. You barely ever get that! usually it's the other way around.
Publicly? It's one thing to be denial, it's another to acknowledge it to yourself but still elect not to engage in a public display of this. The strongest men I've ever met were not in denial of their emotional state but didn't need to engage in public displays like those listed in the article.
On the one hand yes, there's no need for emotional display for its own sake. As far as I've observed, that is mostly a cultural (or really a subcultural) marker anyhow; some communities value it, that's fine. I'm not personally that comfortable with emotion as a tap that gets turned on and off on demand. (During the group I mentioned above, I told them that if they kept asking me what I was feeling, the only feeling they were likely to get out of me was anger about being expected to feel something.)
That sort of cultural practice is a different thing, though—completely different—from deep feeling coming into experience as part of a healing process. The latter is not a tap and there is no quality of display about it. It is more like a flood that rises from forgotten places, and the healing comes from surrendering to that flood and allowing it to change whatever changes. Maybe after that you become more emotionally expressive, maybe not; I personally think that matters less than people in these communities say it does. But you become more integrated, gain capacity, become less reactive, less conflicted.
The subtle part comes up when you say "Publicly?". Yes and no. I don't think there's any need for ongoing public emotionality. I do think there's a deep reason why healing can't fully happen in isolation. It's because our wounds happen in relationship, usually in early relational experiences, and what is wounded relationally can only heal relationally. Personally I have found that frustrating—I would rather go off somewhere, resolve my issues myself, be a self-healing organism. But I've come to see how this impulse to isolation is actually an aspect of the wound itself, and so not a way to heal. Wounds don't heal themselves—they just repeat until something changes. As far as I can tell, there's no way to avoid connecting with others if you want that to change. But others' mileage may vary, and in any case this connecting needs to happen in safe, closed environments with strong containers, not in random public settings.
I think this is where meditation (and stoicism) deviates from some types of psychotherapy and most support groups. Meditation teaches you to look at feelings dispassionately, which helps you lessen their power. This is very different than treating each emotion as if it is "correct" and in need of resolution via lots of introspection.
Say you are pissed because you did not finish a job, but your job performance is increasingly better. Your emotion is not guiding you anywhere useful. It can be useful to understand dispassionately, and then choose to endorse it (that is, this seems a feeling that points to a correct direction, I will thing about solutions) or not (that is, this seems a feeling that does not point to where I want to go, thank you for your message, but I would rather not act on it).
Sometimes feelings are mistakes, like a optical illusion. Sometimes they are not.
Anxiety means your brain has more of a tendency to worry about potential threats. Possibly because your amygdala are more easily activated. It may just be that, back when we lived in the savannah, being easily aroused by potential threats, and being overly careful, was in many ways beneficial for survival. However, we live in a time of relative safety, and it seems that being someone who worries a lot about potential threats is not generally a useful trait.
I'm not saying that there's nothing you can do to manage anxiety, that is obviously false, but I'm saying there's a strong genetic component, and that judging people who appear more anxious and telling them just suck it up shows a fundamental lack of self-awareness and understanding of how the human brain works.
I have been this way my entire life and as far as I'm aware it didn't come about from some life experience, I think I was just born like this. My mother used to laugh that everything was "like water off a duck's back" to me.
All throughout school and University I never once was stressed about any piece of assessment or any exams. There were a few I was woefully unprepared for and knew I would likely fail, but it never really bothered me. It wasn't that I didn't care, I just never saw the point in worrying as worrying is never going to change anything.
My wife is the opposite. She stresses about everything, many things that are completely out of her control. I have learnt a lot about how to support someone in that frame of mind, even when I don't understand why they are stressed.
This does have downsides. Many people, especially in professional contexts, mistake my stress free and easygoing nature as laziness. I also have relatively low empathy, though I'm not sure if that's a side effect, cause, or completely unrelated.
Rumination is unhealthy. And believe it or not, one of the antidotes to it is being able to communicate ones feelings effectively. In my experience, more expressive people tend not to suffer ruminating thoughts.
I grew up west coast, spent a lot of time with people who I could "share my problems" with. It taught me to be pathetic when I'm down, to really reach for it. I don't like who I was when that was an effective means of attention.
I really wish the response would have been "You're having a hard time coping with the harshness of reality and acting immature, do your best to get it together soon."
Try as I might, I have no idea what this has to do with feelings. Are you making an assumption that people who acknowledge or express their feelings are not handling problems?
And of course, as others have pointed out, stoicism doesn't suggest not pondering over feelings.
This may be colored by my experience of mental illness, but generally I've learned/grown more from pondering and sorting out feelings in the past rather than right now. It's easy to fall into a trap of "worshipping your pain" (or your hypomanic euphoria for that matter).
OTOH I'm very appreciative of the dispassionate attitude encouraged by stoicism and meditation, etc. -- but that kind of wisdom is acquired with work, like building muscle. "You should lift heavy things!" is both an interesting aspirational model and dangerous advice if it isn't culturally obvious that you can get hurt lifting heavy things while not in shape.
(Edit: stoicism/meditation etc. are more or less like "second-order repression": as you acknowledge your fingertips or your breath, you acknowledge that you have feelings in order to theoretically understand them (locus of control/illusion of self). The danger is that letting go of first-order repression, you can let yourself have feelings about your feelings -- feeling good about feeling miserable would be the common type.)
I like to think of my self as happy Sisyphus enjoying pushing the rock up the hill. Thinking about the futility of the effort is by definition futile.
It's not a gift compared to what? Nonexistence?
"Handling your own problems" a lot of the time means "making other people responsible for my emotional well being."
I do love stoicism though and I think meditation and stoicism are excellent paths to understanding yourself and managing your internal state.
I'm seeing a lot of agreement in this thread, though. Healthy, deep relationships with family and close friends are important to keep you grounded, and therapy can help everyone. Many seemingly desirable positions of status that men and women strive for involve incredible amounts of stress, and people naturally have differing levels of stress tolerance, so at some point self-knowledge becomes very valuable. Having good people around you is a great way to build that self-knowledge.
Some people really seem to want men to be very emotional and assume something is wrong if they don't appear to be showing strong emotions. Often, they're just fine, and there's no there there.
If you keep picking at them, you'll probably generate some emotions, however.
I'd compare it to a tooth abscess. It's not like it's so painful you need to scream. It's just kind of there, occasionally causing problems. But if it goes untreated long enough, the bacteria in it can kill you. There are some parallels there with loneliness, which a lot of men suffer from.
So I'd say this is more the realization that "Oh, this pain is because of this source. I'm gonna go deal with that source." The process of dealing might involve making your emotions known (such as when breaking up).
Of course, if you're legitimately not in any kind of pain, then great. But most people are, in one form or another.
This is new to me. Making other people responsible for my emotional well-being is being dependent on other people for our own happiness. Stoicism does not suggest that you do this, on the contrary.
For me, men who need to share their feelings are weak. This is what women do. But we can't all be women. Men need to learn to enjoy their advantages: superior strength, speed, and resilience, but accept that problems won't just go away if you cry about them. Either solve the problem or accept it and don't give it another precious moment's thought.
It's not primarily that a comment like that is so bad in its own right. It's that it tends to produce worse from others and, compounded over time, that destroys the community.
As men we have an unbelievable amount of expectation on our reactions, communication, behavior, past behavior, and others behavior. (Their friends and their partners)
On top of all of this: Men spaces have been mostly eliminated.
An organization that was once called "Boy Scouts" is no longer catered only to young boys. And yet the Girl Scouts remain female only.
2. All-female colleges (many), there is perhaps one or two all-male, if they even still exist
I mean sure it's illegal to exclude women but there are plenty of things they're just not going to show up to.
Want to be around only men? Go to a BSD meet up. (or join most channels on freenode.)
(note I'm not saying any of this is good, but there are plenty of places that are pretty exclusively attended by bales.)
Any minimally functional group eventually lead to opportunities.
The outgroup (women in this case) want to access those opportunities. Any push back against that will be labeled as misogynistic or ridiculed.
Men have no other choices than to open up the group and let it become just another open space for everyone.
What is surprising is how some groups:
1) just lay down and accept this unilateral loss...
2) even when it is never reciprocated.
It’s wonderful that’s been your experience of women, but don’t invalidate what others experience — particularly with a citation free comment.
For those wondering why my comment is flagged: dang engages in political censorship, and flagged my account because of my views. I look forward to the upcoming rules on social media censorship, and the accountability that will bring to dang’s actions.
There's nothing wrong with anecdotes on HN. On the contrary, the threads here are supposed to be conversation, and anecdotes are the life blood of good conversation. https://hn.algolia.com/?dateRange=all&page=0&prefix=true&que...
Men aren't obligated or motivated to open up men only social groups until other men start to take issue with them (and usually for their own self interest).
Anyways, I have heard of discrimination that men have faced when trying to create "safe"/support groups that were men only.
I don't know about your experience. But my experience: BBQs are typically a party situation with your household and others. If it's just the guys that's a friends thing.
> Look at sports teams in your high schools, colleges, and local clubs and you'll find men hanging out together.
I haven't heard of such of a clubs.
> Look at Men's bible study groups or similar if that's your thing.
I'll agree with you on this. That qualifies for what I was suggesting. It's a social thing and gets people to talk.
> Go to the local men's barber shop and find a bunch of guys getting haircuts.
Is that an environment that guys would open up? Most of these places tend to be "mind your own business and lets not talk that much" kinds of places.
Would recommend it wholeheartedly.
For anyone who is actually interested, I would recommend the book Iron John, by Robert Bly (https://www.amazon.com/Iron-John-Book-about-Men/dp/030682426...). The first chapter is usually assigned reading before attending the NWTA, but when read with an open mind I found the entire book to be profound. Profound isnt the best word, but I experienced the content as if I personally was being spoken to through the pages; my problems, my struggles and my victories. Spoken to with support, compassion and understanding. I re-read it every year.
Beyond sharing that however, seeing how much vitriolic hyperbole is being thrown around within 2h of posting, I dont feel it productive to share anymore. You might say that the vulnerability it requires of a man to speak to other men (and women!) who are openly hostile (and often deliberately misunderstanding) about this topic can be nothing short of herculean.
On the other hand, I do worry about "emotional masturbation". Simply put, sometimes we indulge ourselves in sadness/fear/anger because it makes us feel something and feeling something is better/more exhilarating/exciting than feeling nothing at all.
For example, I have some insecurities. Sometimes I feel like talking about them may be pro-actively bad because I am indulging myself and making my insecurities occupy more mental space/brain power.
It's no good just blurting out whatever it is you're feeling and like you say, turn it into a masturbatory indulgence, but we should still promote talking about out feelings because suppressing them is no better than having an emotional wank.
We live in an age where men are being villainized at every turn, and this is just another way men are being told they don't measure up... because they aren't sharing in a way that women recognize. With all due deference to my trans friends, men are not simply women with penises.
Agreed. The conspiracy theory part of me wonders if this is a natural way of challenging and verifying perceived strength, thus the trope of a wife accusing the husband of not talking about his feelings enough.
Not to say that's the only time it happens (I've asked my wife basically just this), but I think part of being human is to want a stable, emotional foundation so to speak. And once we've tested and verified a leader/friend/family member who appears to be strong in ways we are not we then rely on them to help us in that regard.
This is the age old men vs women problem where women feel like men don't want to talk about problems/feelings and men feel like women just want to blabber on without ever solving anything.
I'm a man. Sometimes I do the former, more often the latter. And I do feel shamed for that, sometimes.
Expecting men and women to fit into neat, stereotyped boxes like this is a big part of the problem.
Sometimes beeing strong means to become vulnerable.
For instance -
Yet the needs exist, are often projected onto others (partners, co-workers, kids, whole countries, etc) and then action is taken to try to get /them/ to meet needs that one doesn't even know they have. At best, this tends to be frustrating, at worst...well we can all look up the stats on violence perpetuated by people raised as men in the West versus people not raised as men.
By pure rational thought many young men have accepted to treat women like equal human beeings, just as many women have understood that the traditional division of gender roles might not fit all social encounters.
The issue is, that understanding and doing are two seperate things and switching between the old and the new paradigma when it fits us seems to be common place.
So many men end up getting the worst of both worlds: they are not the strong leader of the family any more, but they were still raised in a way to hide their feelings, just like many women are expected to be strong while they might not always have been raised in that way.
The thing we aim for as a society here is defintly worth it (I could experience for myself how amazing a relationship of equals between man and woman can be), but there are many people who struggle with this and it leads to all kind of societal side effects like depression, suicide, drug abuse and violence.
To be fair in times when the man had to be strong this was also a problem, because there are always people who simply don’t fit the role society wants them to take and if you force them into it bad things happen.
Communicating your own feelings is important for mental health. Anyone who struggles with this: get help. Write letters to a person that you never send — writing will help you to think and reflect.
You make it sound as though men have never considered women as equal human beings until some recent enlightenment. I find this world view to be absolutely apalling, and arrogant. You're denying a history where the vast, vast majority of relationships between men and women (eg. marriages) were cooperative, reciprocal, and built upon a foundation of mutual respect.
> "The thing we aim for as a society here is defintly worth it (I could experience for myself how amazing a relationship of equals between man and woman can be)"
A relationship of equals betwen a man and a woman is not some novel new concept we should aspire to, it is completely normal and has been for hundreds, if not thousands of years.
This is true so long as you appear vulnerable, not weak.
I talk about topics that are so hard to talk about that people lie to themselves about it. Things that you don't want to be real are things you try to hide and emotions that don't fit your role in society are part of this.
Becoming vulnerable is the price you have to pay to talk about these kind of topics. And if it happens that you look weak as a side effect you have to pull through it. But this is not about looks, this is about beeing able to interface with the world around you and exposing your true self is the price you have to pay for meaningful conversation.
Give examples of vulnerability that is not also weakness.
The easiest example of vulnerability I can think of is leaders from other departments asking my opinion on work processes or product ideas. One could argue that's not weakness but I believe it is, in that leaders who believe themselves above everyone else at the company will make policy and standards that ignore important aspects of product development and delivery.
An example of weakness is confessing personal issues to your manager or a peer, so much so they think less of you but generally don't tell you directly. The "vulnerable" version of that is handling your issues as you see them, asking peers and mentors for comments on your work and how you can improve, and simply not talking about them outside that.
I'll admit part of my judgment is shaded by personal bias from my own weaknesses, but that's how I see it.
But if all you ever do is only talk about topics that you can confidently speak about with out risking something, then you are missing out on something. And sure you can also go and deal with it on your own till you got the confidence to talk about it without exposing yourself, but there are connections you will be never able to form if all you ever do is deal with yourself.
In my experience, sharing feelings makes me feel worse and substantially reduces my appeal to others. I prefer to just deal with my problems logically and avoid such navel gazing.
Is it illogical to ask for food if you are hungry?
It displays psychologically lack of preparation for hard things in life or even weakness.
So it can easily lower the Sexual Market Value of a man.
It's fairly common for people to have adverse reactions to therapy. Not everyone reacts the same to this sort of thing.
Adverse reactions to therapy might mean that therapy isn't for you. But more commonly, I think it probably means that you don't have the right therapist and / or you have some really heavy, painful shit that you need to deal with but don't want to. Otherwise you wouldn't be having "adverse reactions" to simply sitting in a room with another human to talk about your life.
What I just said is clearly ridiculous.
It should not be a surprise that some people don't feel positive about talking about their lives. If you can't imagine it, I'm afraid you may lack imagination.
No mention of similar mens groups that occurred 30 to 50+ years ago? There's the Mythopoetic men's movement for one.
You're right that the article would be better if it weren't so ahistorical.
Funny enough, that movement coined the term "toxic masculinity."
I'm male. I believe that has had a significant effect on my upbringing.
I'm an individual. I believe a whole lot of things have had a significant effect on my upbringing.
Why would I want to try to resolve my issues within this gendered framework? Am I really primarily male? That seems like a forced choice to me.
That is not to say that one gender will always pick one set of behaviours over the other, people are still individuals obviously, but as a generalisation there is a difference.
It is a forced choice. The model of gender as a binary state rather than a spectrum is an obsolete and harmful social construct.
The way it's going about right now is "equality for me but not for you" by using over exaggerated claims.