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🐔 Ask any question to Girls and Boys – Latest Articles

How Men Can Work on Improving Their Emotional Intelligence

If you’re like most guys, you were never taught how to effectively — and maturely — communicate your feelings.

Traditional Western norms preach keeping feelings to yourself, and should you stray from this social norm and — *gasp* — express yourself, there’s a decent chance it’s perceived as a weakness due to the programming through which we’ve been trained to view emotions.

For men, it’s especially hard to express ourselves because of the model we’re expected to live up to:

Be strong + emotions are weak = If you show emotions, you are weak.

But what if communicating your emotions clearly and effectively was actually one of the strongest tools you could use in your emotional maturity toolbox? What if being able to articulate yourself and your feelings in a regulated manner is actually a strength?

Here we explore the ways in which you can own your feelings and actually demonstrate your “manliness” in a greater depth than you actually thought possible.

1. Acknowledge That You Have Feelings

You, sir, are a human being. You are a living breathing creature who possesses the unique gift of humanity, which means you are a vessel that thinks and feels.

Meaning, feeling things is okay. It’s a normal, special part of what it means to be human, so acknowledging you have feelings as a man is the first step toward accessing them.

According to Suzannah Weiss, resident sexologist for the erotic ethical porn site FrolicMe, many men may have pushed down their feelings due to societal stereotypes, not just hiding them from others, but repressing them to the point that they are not accessible to themselves.

“An important step toward processing your feelings is to give yourself permission to feel and express them,” she says.

Jor-El Caraballo, licensed therapist and co-founder of Viva Mental Health, believes many men have been conditioned to ignore or minimize their feelings for the sake of fitting into a narrow gender role.

“Starting with the acknowledgement that you are a human being with complex feelings and an internal life is the first step in learning how to identify the differences between feelings and thoughts,” Caraballo says. “Starting to acknowledge your feelings is the first act of vulnerability in achieving better mental health and healthier relationship dynamics.”

2. Take an Emotional Inventory

Once you’ve accepted the fact you’re an emotional creature, you’ll be able to normalize asking yourself in any given moment how you’re feeling. Just as you would ask a friend, lover, or family member how they’re doing, you can also ask yourself the same question.

Try it and see what happens. Your body feels things your head may not yet understand, so asking yourself how you’re feeling allows you to merge the mind and the heart in a way that provides clarity if you’re open to it.

“Asking yourself, ‘How am I feeling?’ is a helpful skill as it allows you to be in better tune with your feelings, which can help you practice better self-care and communicate more effectively in relationships,” Caraballo says.

Speaker and writer Jeff Perera likes to think of our range of emotions — which pop up throughout the day — like notifications on your phone.

“What is our way of either reading or ignoring our ‘emotional notifications’ when we feel something?,” Perera said. “Do we have a routine of doing a self-scan to read and address how we’re feeling physically and emotionally, do we suppress our surfacing emotions, or do we turn them off completely when we are numb with overload? How does our way of navigating the daily ‘pings’ of emotional notifications impact our daily interactions and the decisions we make? We can work to process our ‘emotion notifications’ instead of ignoring them or turning them off.”

While the process seems simple, it’s difficult for a lot of us because we’ve become so used to being closed off from our emotions, typically as a mechanism to avoid dealing with unpleasant emotions like pain, sorrow, regret, and anger — and the belief that you should not feel these feelings.

“In my work as a therapist, I often see men struggle with communicating their feelings to others because they don’t have the language to understand their feelings themselves,” Caraballo said.

Don’t be alarmed if the first time you ask yourself “How are you feeling?” you’re met with a feeling of sadness. It’s normal. You’re sad because you’ve been unconsciously neglecting yourself, and awakening to this realization can be very, very painful.

But on the other side of that pain is the most beautiful release — like finally taking a deep breath after being submerged in water — accompanied by the realization that you’re a man, you have feelings, and that’s super cool.

Like any other habit, the more you check-in with yourself, the easier it becomes — and with time — checking in with yourself will start

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