I know I have heard that message.
I know the men I work with have heard that message.
It may come from parents, grandparents, coaches, teachers, friend’s parents, pastors…culture. The message is sometimes delivered intentionally in order to wound us, and other times it’s said without the intention to hurt…but it hurts nonetheless.
This wounding creates a situation where men long to be known…to be accepted…to feel that they are good enough. We want to know that we have what it takes to measure up. We want to know that we have what it takes to “slay the giant.” Yet, there is such fear in being rejected, hurt, criticized…that it is often not worth the risk to be vulnerable.
I am passionate about this topic and I hope that I can work with as many men possible to help them live deep, emotionally/physically/mentally/spiritually connected lives, along with the confidence and courage to be vulnerable with those that they love and those that love them. Too many men are suffering alone in shame and silence.
This message to not be weak starts early as I have stated. It is something that I write about at length in chapter 8 of my book, What it Means to be a Man. And this summer I wrote an article for the Fuller Youth Institute called Feelings Not Allowed: How Our Response to Boys Sabotages Their Relationships.
This message was just reinforced to me in a new way when I came across Brene Brown’s words in her book Daring Greatly: How the Courage to be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent and Lead. In the book two statements literally jumped off the page at me and I found myself internally saying, “Yes, yes, yes…you are exactly right.”
“Basically, men live under the pressure of one unrelenting message: Do not be perceived as weak.” (pp. 91)
“As I’ve learned about men and their experiences with shame, I still see that image of a shipping crate with a big stamp across it that reads, ‘CAUTION: Do Not Be Perceived as Weak.’ I see how boys are issued a crate when they’re born. It’s not too crowded when they’re toddlers. They’re still small and can move around a bit. they can cry and hold on to mamma, but as they grow older, there’s less and less wiggle room. By the time they’re grown men, it’s suffocating.” (pp. 94)
As a man can you identify with the message that men are not allowed to show weakness? How was that communicated to you growing up?