Gary's blog for couples and parents plus resources for individuals, leaders and churches.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Emotions Are Not Overrated, Even for Men

I was in a grocery store the other day and saw a sign I'd never seen before. It was for mock tender steak. I asked my wife about it and she'd never heard of it either. Maybe someone in the know can fill me in sometime.

However, I thought about the possibilities. Is the steak really NOT tender but you think it is?  Is it so full of tenderizer that the juices run out of it while you eat it?  Who knows?

Nonetheless, a lot of people, especially men, are like mock tender steak. They fake it a lot when it comes to emotions. Many of them simply don't want to appear weak, so they suck it up and appear strong to most everyone as much as they can. Others don't really care that much but they pretend to be really caring. Unfortunately they're not very helpful because they're more worried about how they appear or they just don't stay around long enough to be of much help.

Tenderness or emotions aren't very helpful when they are pretend. But if we're really going to connect with others and have meaningful relationships with our spouses and children, we need to learn that genuine emotions are part of the important glue that helps keep families together and strong.

Emotions must be acknowledged, processed and shared freely. Family members only learn to deal with their own emotions when they see others being open and honest about their feelings. Kids who rarely see mom or dad express healthy emotions will likely never learn to be emotionally healthy either.

So if emotions matter, let's think about some important guidelines for expressing them.

First of all, share positive emotions often. Do you tell your kids you love them? Do your kids see you express verbal love to your spouse? Tell your family when you're proud of them or that if you had it to do all over again you would pick them.

Second, speak negative emotions appropriately. For example, when you're upset with someone, only talk about what's going on in the here and now. We have a tendency to expand things beyond the current event into a bigger setting. We say things like, "I'm so angry that you didn't clean your room like I asked. I can never count on you, can I?"  That's unfair, untrue and inappropriate.

Stay with the current issue only.  Also, use good timing. Don't share your frustrations on the way to taking your kids to school or with your spouse on the way to church or a night out. Emotional agendas need time to work through and process appropriately.

Emotional health takes work, practice and intentionality. It's not weak to express how you feel. But it does make a difference in how you do it. So . . . tell me how you really feel, will you?
Gary Sinclair Writer | Speaker | Leader

Gary is currently a consultant, teacher, speaker and chaplain providing resources for families, leaders and churches.

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