What makes a “real man”? It’s a question I hear a lot the more I work with men. Initial answers often involve ideas from our cultural traditions or stereotypical images from the media we consume.
To me, in this moment and time, the answer is simple:
A real man is one who feels *everything*.
The time of sensitivity, emotions, vulnerability, and feelings being frowned upon when it comes to masculinity is over.
The truth is, a man who is willing and able to feel EVERYTHING in his experience is one worth celebrating. Feeling is NOT a sign of weakness, it is absolutely a sign of strength. A man who can’t be with his felt sense is someone that’s at the mercy of his feelings. They control HIM, and the longer those feelings are ignored, the more powerful they become, creating “charges” within him purvey all areas of his live.
Whether he’s conscious of them or not, these charges commandeer more and more of his energy, presence, and attention – making him less here in any given moment.
The man that doesn’t avoid, numb, or bury his feelings, but is willing to dive into them, be with them, and feel them, whether dark, sad, ecstatic, angry, shameful, or blissful is a real man.
Being with an emotion fully, especially in the presence of others, is often what dissolves it – letting us more and more identify with the very space it arose in. All that energy we were using to avoid is now freed up – bringing more vitality and consciousness to every breath we take.
One of my mentors describes the process like this: we take CHARGE of our charges, no longer at the mercy of parts of ourselves we’re unwilling to be with. We become intimate with the entirety of US. And that’s what makes us powerful.
The deeper a man is in touch with his interiors, the freer he becomes. We can feel when we’re around a man like this, as he carries a relaxed and alert awareness that’s instantly trustable. It’s the knowledge that no matter what happens, this man won’t disappear, but will stand free in the face of whatever arises.
Such a real man can then even cultivate transmitting that freedom beyond himself. He can extend his practice of feeling by placing his attention and care out into his lover, family, tribe, nation, species, the planet, and beyond. He becomes unwavering in his presence no matter what happens, meeting it with full attention and aliveness.
The truth is, the hardest things to feel are often related to our ephemeral nature of being. Truly staying present and connected while feeling puts us in touch with our mortality – the fact that everything will ultimately disappear. Staying present with this can be a lot to handle, and is why feeling is ALWAYS the braver choice than not.
We’ve long celebrated men who fearlessly dive into the brave unknown of the external world, be they explorers, athletes, scientists, or soldiers. Now let us celebrate the men that do the same with their interiors. Men who fiercely turn towards all parts of themselves and those around them. They welcome everything with curiosity and presence, be it inside or out.
To me that’s what makes the NEW warrior, a “real men” who feels EVERYTHING.