Unexpressed emotions will never die, they are buried alive and will come forth later in uglier ways – Sigmund Freud
When it comes to emotional expression guys are at a disadvantage. We are not very good at it. Some might say that our brains are missing the emotional chip. I disagree. Part of being human is to feel and express emotions. This is natural.
Generally speaking, boys are raised differently that girls. Girls are taught to be comfortable expressing their feelings. Young boys are trained by their dads to avoid certain emotions like fear, sadness, loneliness, or depression. On the other hand, boys are encouraged to express anger and frustration. Why? Bravery and confidence are important as future providers and protectors of their family. So young boys learn early on to suppress the “weaker” emotions and express the “manly” emotions.
Fast-forward into adult relationships, guys struggle with identifying, let alone expressing emotions. So when their significant other wants to connect emotionally, guys struggle. If a wife says, “How was your day?”, a husband may respond with “fine”. So much for emotional connection!
Emotions need exercise too!
In this current series, “My Total Fitness Plan” I covered two of the five levels of fitness: physical and intellectual. In this blog, I want to explore ways you can exercise healthy emotional fitness. This is very likely a “no brainer” for women because they totally outclass men when it comes to exercising their emotions. Be that as it may, some women share with me that their problem is not suppressing their feelings. Rather, they are more concerned about managing the intensity of emotional expression.
One goal in emotional fitness is avoiding the polar extremes of suppressing or erupting feelings. Another goal is to find healthy outlets for emotional expression. The key here is to open the portals of emotion so you can connect with your feelings.
[Tweet “One goal in emotional fitness is avoiding the polar extremes of suppressing or erupting feelings. – Don Olund”]
So. let’s examine four practical ways you can exercise healthy emotional expression.
Do things that open the portals of emotion
For men and women alike, portals of anger and frustration are open on a daily basis. No need for help here. If anything, they need a time-out. I’m talking more about other portals of emotion such as passion, love, joy, happiness, sadness, loneliness, fear, silliness, or gratefulness. Notice how I included pleasant and unpleasant emotions? Emotions need expression, a release point. If we do not let them out they come out in “uglier ways” as Sigmund Freud said in the quote above.
So, how do we open the portals of emotion?
Their are many ways to activate emotion. It boils down to personal preference. Here some things I do on a weekly basis to keep my portals of emotion open.
- Listen to a wide array of music genres that activate emotion (Check out Qello)
- Watch movies that move me emotionally
- Engage in sports activities and recreation I enjoy for fun
- Write in a journal and process my thoughts and feelings about what’s going on in my life
- Open up to family members and a few very close friends I can trust with my feelings
- Meet regularly with my counselor/mentor to process my life
- Engage in my spirituality to express my deepest feelings to God
- Channel my inner Peter Pan who needs time to play (See the movie HOOK to understand what I mean here)