Feeling emotions, expressing emotions, and repairing emotional wounds is often seen as weak and unnecessary by many men in this culture. The irony in this belief is that just the opposite is true. The more emotionally healthy and emotionally connected we are, the stronger and more adaptable we become. Strength is about health and flexibility, and connection is about maintaining a healthy emotional state. Terrence Real, author of I Don’t Want to Talk About It: Overcoming the Secret Legacy of Male Depression, writes in an article called The Awful Truth that “Authentic connection – intimacy – is our natural state as human beings, the state we begin life in, the state we function best in, the condition we most crave, despite our wounds and defenses”.
To maintain optimum health and strength, emotions need to be expressed. If we aren’t taught or allowed as children to express them appropriately or constructively, they will be expressed as adults in maladaptive ways. Anger explodes into rage, sadness sinks into depression, and fear becomes a free floating anxiety. Repressed, unexpressed feeling and emotions will seek a way out, usually to the detriment of self and those you love.
Healthy relationships depend on clear communication. Connection and congruency help form and maintain those relationships. Are you emotionally connected to your spouse, partner, and/or child? And when you do communicate and connect, do your words match your feelings? Children are masters at reading their parents’ emotional states. As a parent, matching emotions and words teaches healthy expression of feelings and helps the child trust their own feelings. If we don’t learn these skills as children, we will not have that authentic connection with either our children or in our adult intimate relationships.
Internet Pornography Addiction
One issue that is exploding with serious repercussions is Internet pornography addiction. The fact that men are visually stimulated sexually in combination with unlimited easy access to the Internet at home has created an epidemic of pornography use and addiction. What may start out as an occasional enjoyable diversion can easily turn into a compulsion and craving that has the potential to destroy a relationship, family, and career. This addiction requires interventions at many levels such as: limiting access; admitting the problem by telling the truth and removing the secrecy; and a good therapeutic intervention, such as EMDR to get to the repressed, internal wound that is driving the behavior. If you are having a problem with limiting or quitting, a helpful book to read is The Porn Trap, by Wendy and Larry Maltz. Also, seek professional help.