February 22, 2023

Boys Don’t Cry: The Danger of Emotional Suppression.


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“Boys don’t cry. I never knew emotions were divided according to gender too.” ~ Shreya


There’s a school of thought that says the past will be the biggest predictor of our future, and I believe there’s so much truth in that.

Of course bad things in life happen and many of us work hard to ensure our future doesn’t repeat that.

But here’s the stone cold reality: our belief system is formed when we are young children, and those beliefs, healthy or unhealthy, will carry through our lives buried in our unconscious, and they will dictate how we behave. How we react. How we connect. What our triggers are. They will be the engine of our mind.

In the past, it was seen as completely normal to raise our boys tough. Some girls were raised this way also, but the focus was on the boys to be stronger. Boys were taught to be men in a world that suppressed emotions and conditioned boys to believe that crying was weak. That showing emotion was unacceptable. They were encouraged to bury how they felt. Distract themselves if they felt “negative” feelings. They were told that strength is what people wanted and women wanted masculine men, not cry baby mice.

It f*cked up generations of men, as they raised their boys the same way, and what we were left with was broken men. Angry men. Depressed men. Men ending their own lives. Of course there are women that fit this as well, but men well outnumber women here. The difference is men are far better at masking it. Faking it. Until they implode.

Some little boys became the emotional support for their mothers because their father was emotionally closed off and was not meeting their mother’s needs. A little boy eager to please and not rock the boat becomes “the little man of the house.” A little boy who does not have the emotional capacity to take on this role and has his own needs ignored.

Many of us have met those men with a mother who becomes jealous of their son’s partner. Who still expects their son to drop everything to meet her needs, and the son still eager to please, even though he may be bitter and resentful inside. It is not the role of the child to emotionally support the parent—especially little boys who are conditioned to not show their emotions and be deemed as “weak.”

In 2023, I thought we had evolved. My son was born in 1997 and was raised to understand that all emotions are acceptable and it’s more than okay to cry. He was raised to know he can speak about how he is feeling and he will be loved regardless. His dad wasn’t great at showing emotions, but I worked really hard on encouraging emotions and unpacking feelings, because it’s critical to emotional regulation and growing up to be a well-rounded and an emotionally available human.

He is a Tradie and now sees firsthand the “men should not cry” mantra. On job sites with large groups of men all spouting their toxic masculine bullsh*t and a testosterone overload, he sees men who are struggling with mental health. He’s known men who have ended their lives. He is an advocate for men speaking up about their struggles.

Let me make one thing crystal clear. I am not saying masculinity is bad, in fact, I love a masculine man. What I’m saying is we’ve skewed the view and belief of what masculinity is. We are all humans; we therefore all feel human emotions. The belief and conditioning of men to not show these emotions is the issue. Repressing their feelings is such a misguided, unhealthy, and toxic belief, and we are now seeing the repercussions of that.

I’d also highlight that some women are problematic because they are conditioned to believe their son, partner, man should not show emotion, and they pushback and discourage men for showing normal human emotion. A healthy, emotionally available, and self-aware masculine man will show emotion and know how to unpack and deal with his emotions in a safe and healthy way.

In 2023, we have not evolved nearly enough. In 2023, in many ways, we are going backwards.

Social media can be an interesting place to gauge human behaviour. What I’m seeing is the putrid denial of male emotions and feelings. I’m seeing emotionally unavailable men, wounded men, and men who judge their own strength and the strength of other men by how they suppress their emotions. Men so broken that they lack any self-awareness and an inability to grow or change. They call men who can healthily emotionally self-regulate weak and pathetic. They spew this toxic masculinity around, engaging equally wounded boys and men and even women who have been raised to believe this. It’s a disturbingly growing trend and surprisingly archaic in today’s world.

I see women with the same misguided views perpetuating this behaviour. Women blaming men for everything. Men blaming women for everything. When did it become a gender war? People with platforms encouraging this war. Encouraging the blame. Encouraging the hate. And a good part of all this hate and toxic bullsh*t is the inability to regulate emotions. The suppression of pain, sadness, anger—until it can no longer be suppressed anymore and people implode. Bitterness. Resentfulness. Bullying. Nastiness.

People who feel safe showing their feelings and have healthy ways to unpack their emotions will feel more fulfilled and happy. They won’t have pent-up fear, anger, resentfulness, and bitterness that they need to project onto others.

Blame, there’s always someone else to blame because we all know it’s never “our fault.” It’s feminism’s fault. It’s the government’s fault. It’s greedy women. It’s sh*tty men. It’s the courts. The legal system. And yes, there’s some blame with all of these, but for once can people acknowledge maybe just maybe they need to do some work?

They need to look within themselves. They need to understand their unhealthy limiting beliefs. They need to unpack their feelings and emotions and get help when they need. Instead of blaming everyone, spewing hatred, and bullying others because you have all this pent-up emotion, do something. Help yourself.

If little boys are taught to suppress their emotions, what sort of men are they going to grow into? Domestic violence is on the rise because there are so many angry men out there. Physical abuse. Verbal abuse. Financial abuse. Addiction is on the rise because it’s a way to mask their pain. The male suicide rate is high because they suppress so much pain and don’t feel comfortable to talk about it. When will we stop blaming everyone and start taking responsibility. As parents. As adults. As society.

These men and women with this belief system are raising more damaged kids. More damaged little boys who will be taught to suppress their emotions and not be weak. More little girls who are taught boys are weak if they cry. And round and round we go. Never learning and never evolving.

We have some incredible people out there trying to educate and open people up to understand the importance of emotions. The importance of showing and unpacking our emotions, but for every Gabor Maté, Jay Shetty, Brené Brown, and other trained and experienced people, we have far too many spouting toxicity, and sadly, because many people are already in a toxic place, they have good followings. It’s a dangerous trend, and it’s going to cause a new generation of broken men and women for that matter.

Show me a confident, open, self-aware man who can healthily regulate his emotions and works hard on his growth, and I’ll guarantee he’s been raised in an environment that was safe, where his needs were met, where he was encouraged to share his feelings, or he has done some pretty deep inner work.

Babies come into the world needing their parents, a caretaker for their survival. It doesn’t matter if they are boys or girls, they have the same needs. Somewhere along the line, as children begin to grow, we start treating them differently. In many ways, we encourage our girls to need men because they are conditioned to think they are not enough alone. That they will need a man to look after them. They learn that girls are pretty and cute and boys are clever and strong.

We teach our boys that they are stronger and girls are weaker, and somehow some boys grow into men believing they are better. That they deserve more and that women don’t belong in boardrooms or even some workplaces. That women belong in the home waiting to take care of their every whim. That women need them and are there to meet their needs. That women do not want to see them cry.

Then when reality hits and girls and women show their own strength and don’t behave in the way these boys—now men—expect, the blame game starts. Both men and women have a lot to learn and it starts with parents raising children to understand safe and healthy emotional regulation. It starts with a rebranding of what a masculine man really is.

Suppressing emotions will break you. And it will break you in ways you may never understand.

>> Burying emotions may alleviate the feelings of them, but they do not disappear. They will bubble away beneath the surface until they eventually explode. That can be mentally or physically.

>> Physical illness can be the response to suppressed emotions. Stress sends a lot of people to the doctor. Our body always keeps the score and our emotions can and do play havoc on our body when they are not addressed. Illness. Disease. Physical pain.

>> Mental illness. Depression, anxiety, PTSD, addictions, anger issues, bitterness, resentment, guilt, and shame will eat you alive if you do not have healthy ways to address them. We all want to feel the joy, the happiness, and the good stuff, but the bad stuff is just as important. All emotions are valid.

>> Toxic positivity is like an infection. It eats away at you and others in your life. We are not meant to only show positive emotions. Humans like animals feel a range of emotions, yet we are the only species that suppresses our emotions and feelings.

>> Relationship issues and the way we connect to others stem from our belief systems. If we are taught to shut our emotions off, we can never be fully emotionally available and that will slowly destroy any close relationships we form. Men who think women want them emotionally closed off will learn over time that is not what we want and relationships will break down.

>> Insecurities masquerading as ego. This is a huge one. So many men present with this ego. They can’t accept another’s opinion and they have a need to have their ego stroked. When it’s boiled down, it’s simply their insecurities. They don’t know how to regulate their emotions. They feel they need to constantly show how masculine and strong they are. They need constant validation. And as a self-aware woman who respects the courage of vulnerability, I find this to be such a turn off.

>> There’s a huge misconception that vulnerability is weak. That showing your vulnerability as a man is unacceptable. Newsflash: it takes real strength and courage to be vulnerable. It takes integrity and strength of character to be honest about how you feel. It takes trust and respect in your partner and friends to be emotionally open.

In a world where we have a mental health crisis and men are suffering in epidemic proportions, you would think we would realise we are doing something wrong. Instead of laying blame on women or feminism, how about we lay blame where it needs to be, and that is on an archaic belief system with a fallback to patriarchal nonsense.

Instead of expanding the differences between men and women and trying to fall back on the past, when we have learnt how unhealthy our past was, why don’t we explore what has been learnt? Instead of giving broken men, and women for that matter, platforms to spew their dangerous words, why don’t we educate parents on the importance of emotions and teaching children, especially our boys, that it is in fact okay to cry and express their feelings?

The truth is we still have far too many privileged yet emotionally broken men in power. Where material success is measured and rewarded as the optimal success, is it any wonder we are so f*cked up? How about we measure the success of a human being by their compassion, their empathy, their kindness, and their willingness to be courageous and vulnerable.

Our little boys deserve better. Our little girls deserve better. We need an evolutionary change and we need it now.

If you are a parent reading this, please raise your boys knowing it is perfectly normal to show emotion. Please teach them that it’s just as important for them as it is for girls to speak of their feelings. Please instill that vulnerability is courageous. Please provide them with the tools to self-regulate, and if you don’t know how to do this because you have never been taught, please learn. Read books. Listen to podcasts. Reach out to experts.

We need to break the cycle and the generational unhealthy beliefs that continue to plague us and our families. If you’re reading this and you think it’s bullsh*t and you believe men should not cry or show emotion, I ask you to really question why you think that. I ask you to look at the cycle you are stuck in. Growth, change, and education are imperative if we are to support our boys to grow into functional, emotionally open, and caring men. And if we cannot self-regulate as an adult, we need to seek support to help us with this, so we are able to raise our children in an emotionally healthy environment.

Boys cry because they feel. Men cry because they feel. It’s part of the human condition. Please stop teaching our boys to suppress how they feel, because they are growing into unhealthy, emotionally unavailable, toxic men who are broken and bleeding all over people who never hurt them. So wound up and buried beneath layers of “boys don’t cry,” “pussy,” and “man up” that they don’t know how to feel about anything. When we teach boys to not face their own pain, they grow into men who inflict pain on others.

Teach our boys to feel. Teach them to love, and teach them to cry. Teach them how to grow into emotionally healthy men. Teach our girls that it’s perfectly normal for boys and men to cry. Raise both our boys and girls with self-belief and self-love in a compassionate and safe space, where showing emotions and speaking the truth of their feelings is not only encouraged but also accepted. We must meet our children’s needs and let them be children; they are not there to meet our needs—that’s our job.

A reminder: happy, secure, self-aware, emotionally available people have no need to blame, bully, abuse, or fight with people. Regulate your emotions before the anger, bitterness, and resentment explode.

Let’s change the narrative before we completely f*ck up the next generation.

“But by far the worst thing we do to males—by making them feel they have to be hard—is that we leave them with very fragile egos. The harder a man feels compelled to be, the weaker his ego is.” ~ Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie


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