The reality is that life throws us curveballs that we must feel fully to fully appreciate. (Read This: The Event Doesn’t Matter. Your Reaction Does)
As I’m writing this right now my dog appears to be on death’s door. I bought him while on a trip to Argentina and it seems he came up with a tick-borne parasite that was only recently diagnosed, and hopefully not too late.
To look at my dogs health and treat it with indifference because sadness takes away from my mission in life would be to remove the human from my being and replace it with mathematics – and not even logic.
Logic would dictate that I feel what I need to feel. The same for you. You need to be in your life, feeling the pain, the sorrow, the highs and the lows in order to simply be a man.
Where do “feelings” stand in manning up or improving the self?
Life is best lived when we are completely in the moment, taking in the tastes, the smells, the sounds of our surroundings. We live when we feel the love in our lives. We appreciate our life when we experience pain rather than running from it.
To feel, I mean to truly be in your lows when you’re at your worst is a part of being a human. Most people try to be indifferent to them. You cannot get trapped in them. You cannot let them consume your life. You cannot allow them to lead you down a road to depression. That’s far from the point. You must, however, be in them.
It’s my dog’s sickness, right now, and how I react to it, that will either form a greater bond between the two of us, or create a chasm if I distance myself in preparation for him not making it.
Here’s where the interesting aspect of courage comes in.
Men, we bare the brunt.
It may suck that we have to carry the weight of our world and the world of those around us on our shoulders, but that’s just how life is. We are the shoulder to cry on, yet the one who can’t miss a day of work because we need to put food on the table. We have to be emotionally “there”, yet strong enough that we don’t get sucked into despair by our emotions.
If we’re down, everyone is down, and this is no way for a man to live.
However, if your child – not to parallel my pup to your kid – is sick, you must be there for them, feeling their pain, praying, hoping, crying, but not worrying. You cannot let your mind drift to what isn’t, not for your sake, but for theirs.
I have to do everything I can to be with my pup. Care for him. Play with him. Nourish him. And if he takes a turn for the worse I have to feel that pain while not allowing it to bring me down to a place where I stop moving forward. (Read This: How Love Can Make You A Better Man)
It’s a hard conundrum to solve. We have to feel and we have to love and even cry, yet we still have to do. We still have to work and learn and earn.
What I do know is that a man who thinks “manning up” means feeling nothing is a man not courageous enough to feel. It’s a man who’s scared of those things we call emotions because of where they send him. It’s also one of the most common weaknesses amongst strong and good men, that they remove themselves from this necessary part of life, sorrow, because it seemingly does nothing to aid them or who they’re trying to help in this life.
The fact is that it does. Pain is a part of life’s tapestry. To appreciate every thread is to live while others drone through life on autopilot numb to the good and the bad and indifferent to those things that are so uniquely human, our emotions.
Be in your lows, but understand that they’re never as bad as they seem. Know that you’re the rock for someone, so don’t dare dip below them. Though you must feel to be human, you cannot give in to despair or self-pity. Feeling pain, though, is a necessary part of life. Without it we cannot completely feel joy nor fully know how important others are to us.
When someone dies, mourn. Don’t run from the pain and busy yourself, at least not immediately. Just mourn. Give yourself a day then get on with things.
Your lows will propel you to do more; your highs will give you motivation as well, if you allow them.