On hearing his story, the rest of the group was in a kind of collective shock. All the suffering kid got back was nervous laughter and some verbal validation of how brutal and unfair it all was. The strangest thing was after the brief two minutes of hearing this powerful story, the group charged right on past it to the next young man's check in. I think in doing so, they were giving the grieving kid the message, suck it up, play hurt, and stuff all the hurt back inside.
. . . suck it up, play hurt,
and stuff all the hurt back inside!
and stuff all the hurt back inside!
It takes time to build enough trust in a container of men and boys before it can hold the larger feelings churning below the surface of young male bravado and behind the mask that says, I can handle it all. In the group that day, we did go back to validate the strength it took for the young man to witness his horse's death, to honor the love he had for the animal, and to give him (males) permission to cry about the loss if he wanted. When asked, most of the other guys in the circle were able to name major losses in their lives. Only tiny hints about the potency of those losses showed through their reporting. They also offered up some positive and some not-so-good coping strategies for dealing with grief. Along the way, we got to insert some new feeling words for the grieving process into the conversation. It was a hard circle for the guys, but we all came closer together for the shared intimacy. In the closing round, one young man actually said, Bless all broken male hearts.
Bless all broken male hearts
Real Boys: Rescuing Our Sons from the Myths of Boyhood. Pollack, talks about boy's limited emotional vocabulary and the Boy Code. The code says, except for anger, showing any other big feelings means you're weak, and thus vulnerable. The cost for young men living up to that code is a tragedy we see on the news almost nightly. Pollack's quote rightly says, If we don't let our boys cry tears, they'll cry bullets. The second scary idea is that all school shooters are angry boys.
The One Rule For Boys: How Empathy And Emotional Understanding Will Improve Just About Everything For Your Son. Dr. Wachtel is a psychologist who has worked with boys and men caught up in the justice system.
He has directly witnessed the damage a lack of empathy and emotional understanding can cause. His ‘one rule’ is, when boys are taught and encouraged to recognize and express their feelings, and to understand how other people feel―rather than being tough, unemotional, and clueless about the motivations of others―the world becomes a happier, healthier, and safer place.
I know the work we're doing in school-based support circles for our young men is making a difference. If you want to talk about how to set up a group to support the men and young men in your world, give me a shout.
Dr. Wachtel says, if we support them in the development of an emotional life, our boys will be:
. . . less aggressive, more assertive, have a higher quality of friends, get better jobs, get more chances to get into college if they want to, they are happier, treat women better, have better marriages and are better leaders.
Now there's a whole bunch of reasons to circle up the men and boys for some conversation!
SHARE: If you enjoy this blog, please click the Facebook "Share" button below to support the Man-Making Facebook page! (The button is only on the MM Blog, and NOT in email post delivery, sorry.)
CONTACT: Send Earl a message. I'm very interested in your thoughts on any man-making post or topic. I'm available to help bring man-making initiatives to your community or organization.
SUBSCRIBE: If you're not yet a subscriber to the Man-Making Blog, and you'd like to receive these posts by email 3-4 times a month, use this link for a free subscription.
TWEET: Send this post along to your friends or follow me on Twitter!