Thursday, September 27, 2007

Do Men Have No Souls?

How’s that for an attention grabbing title? That is the thought that is rattling around in my head these days. Now that I have your attention like the well-placed teaser for news at 11:00, I'll back down like they do to the real story. I guess I probably mean emotion more than soul (although I tend to equate the two somewhat), and I just don’t see a lot of emotion coming from men.

Truth be told, when I see emotion coming from men it is anger, full of fury and violence, and those aren’t the men I hang around. Nope, I’m not into the yelling or the hitting or any of that. It seems though that men who aren’t like that also aren’t very expressive of any other emotions either.

If I were to graph my emotions on a scale where 10 equals the most positive emotion that could be felt and expressed (gushing with pride, for example) and -10 equals the most negative emotion that could be felt and expressed (throwing an all out fall on the floor temper tantrum, for example) then you would probably see lots of points on the chart falling into the 5-8 range on both ends of the scale. If you were to graph either W or BJ’s I dare say they would seldom cross a 5 and generally hover around a 1-3 range on either the positive or negative scale. They tend to be very flat in their emotions.

When I get excited about an idea, I absolutely gush about it and throw energy behind it, until I run smack dab into the wall that is man, the one who says flatly, “yes, I really like that idea; you should do that.” Yawn. . . At a ball game, N and I will be cheering, high fiving each other, jumping for joy when the Illini make a touchdown. W on the other hand sits there, smiles, and says something like “Good job.” There are certain things that just don’t seem to be “allowed” like enthusiasm, excitement, unabated joy, but then again on the other side there are no tears, no anguish, no visible signs of sadness or bereavement.

Would I give up my extreme highs to avoid the extreme lows? Not on your life. Not ever ever ever. I may feel the pains more sharply, leave myself open to more hurt, but the top end of the scale is so worth it to me. I so much enjoy feeling things, even if it means opening myself to the pain in order to open myself to the pleasure. Am I wrong? Should I really tone myself down? Temper the emotions? Is living on a more even keel so much better? Am I doing myself a disservice by allowing myself to feel the full range of the emotional spectrum? I don’t know. I hope not.


Desmond Jones said...

There's a distinction to be made between how we feel our emotions and how we express them. Lots of guys (like me) feel their emotions very intensely, but for various reasons, don't often express them as intensely as they (we) feel them. Partly because, like you say, our intensity is often construed as anger. I wish I could tell you how many times I'll emphasize a point I'm making, because it's something I'm passionate about, and my listener(s) will be taken aback, and ask me what I'm so angry about. And I'm not angry at all, just passionately intense (or at least, so I understand myself; perhaps I flatter myself).

One of the most helpful things I've come across, for just making my way thru life, has been the notion that my emotions are meant to be my servants, not my masters. I can feel what I feel, with all the passionate intensity (I really need to get out my thesaurus to find some words besides 'passionate' and 'intensity'), but often enough, my feelings just aren't being helpful or supportive of what I really need to do. And there's an art to being able to say to my emotions, 'settle down; you're not being helpful right now'. My 'teacher' was fond of saying, "hey, they're just your feelings; you don't have to act on them. . ." And that has been really helpful for my life. . .

Altho, I can freely acknowledge that I've never jumped for joy when the Illini score a touchdown. Now, if it were my Spartans, that'd be a different story. . .

D said...

TS - You just mix with the wrong men - loads of my male friends are comfortable showing their more feminine emotions - they don't see it as a weakness just as them being allowed to be well rounded human beings. Keep searching and you may find that most men have the capability to have demonstrate their full range of emotions.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

You know how women are judged almost every minute of the day on their appearance? I mean everything from the color of eye shadow to fitness to clothes worn (or not worn) to hair, and on and on and on. All the time, women judge each other based on each other's appearance.
A lot of men (me included) feel that we are judged like that all time based on our actions. If I cry, will I seem weak? If I just let loose and let everyone see how good a time I am having, will that make me seem gay or feminized (some men have a problem with that)? And on and on. Men have learned since early grade school to keep emotions muted and to themselves. It is only when the strongest emotions take over that things get really seen, and then it is either anger or looks like anger.

Bunny said...

I think many men tend to have trouble expressing emotions beyond anger. My husband turns every emotion into anger, as though he was taught from an early age that it was the only acceptable emotion to express. I think they FEEL what we feel, they just don't express it.

You should be glad to feel the full range of emotions AND be able to express them.

freebird said...

TS, I decided to mull this one over and sleep on it!
I'm certainly with you on feeling and expressing my emotions, but sometimes, occasionally, yes, I would like to be able to just turn them down enough to be able to get on with life more peacefully. I sometimes even wonder if I'm a bit of an emotion junkie! Highs and the inevitable lows seem preferable to constant flatness to me - even if that meant a kind of contentedness.

I do think men are programmed from an early age to keep their emotions checked. And that is why it's so hard to tell whether they're feeling it but not expressing it, or not feeling it at all.

The thing that really intrigued me was Desmond's comment about 'talking to' his emotions. I'm wondering how you actually detach yourself from them enough to be able to do that. But since reading it I have actually tried telling myself that "hey, they're just your feelings; you don't have to act on them. . ." and maybe... possibly... it could be a way of training yourself. Dunno, give me another few years and I'll tell you if it works!

Trueself said...

Des - Thank you for taking the time to write such a thorough answer. I do believe that you are probably right about the expression of emotion, not the emotion itself, that is missing in men. However, when I'm observing all I have to go on is behavior, and when I see little to no emotion expressed it can be hurtful as it feels that there is a lack of caring. Maybe men ought to feel comfortable enough with their significant other to allow the emotions to show through a bit. Just a thought.

D - Maybe I should have you introduce me to these elusive expressive men.

SM - Oh geez, another thing for me to worry about, being judged on my appearance. LOL Actually, I do know what you are saying. I'm just one of those women that has said "screw you" to being judged by appearance since I know I'll never measure up on that scale. Maybe one day I'll find the elusive male that has given up on measuring himself according to the "show no emotion" scale.

Bunny - I think you are right.

FB - You let me know how that goes, 'k?