Men in particular, especially in our Western culture, have been told that it is wrong to have emotions. This is magnified with statements like, “Real men don’t cry!” This communicates that a man is weak if he cries or if he expresses a deep emotion. I would suggest that both Adam and Eve had equal amounts of emotion in the Garden of Eden. I also believe that men and women have equal levels of emotion today, although they may express emotion differently depending on the issue.
Let me explain this. I believe that men have the same amount of emotion as women. Men, however, have been trained to hide their emotions, but emotions have a way of finding their way out. A boiling pot will eventually explode if it has a lid on it.
How do emotions find their way out or explode? Domestic abuse is a definite outgrowth of stifled emotions. While women can also become abusers, men are often the ones who abuse. Abusers use fear, guilt, shame, and intimidation to wear people down and keep them under their thumb. Abusers also use physical abuse such as rape, physical pain, punching holes in walls, and so on. Let me share a story with you about stifled emotions. I met a friend of mine, Michael, in a coffee shop one day. He shared with me that he had grown up being taught and trained to stifle his emotions.
I asked Michael, “How were you taught and trained to stifle your emotions?” Michael said, “It was easy. My dad would immediately lift his hand up with a threat to hit me any time that I cried as a little boy. He would holler out, ‘Stop that crying, or I will give you something to cry about.’” Every time Michael was told to stop crying it made him suppress his emotions. Over time a shame grid was formed in his mind and he learned to shut his emotions down and to stop feeling altogether.
While other men might not have experienced the same scenario that Michael did, the messages that men receive in our culture have trained them to stifle their real emotions. Anyone who has heard these messages has slowly trained him or herself to stop feeling emotions. But again, emotions never get stifled; they just find other ways to rise up.