When it comes to nurturing the heart of a man, we are dealing with men who, for the most part, are not used to or uncomfortable with revealing themselves to others. Yes, I am talking about being vulnerable or the more manly way of putting it, getting real with my sh!t. There’s a kaleidoscope of issues men face that create suffering in our lives. The best part is there are remedies for each. What follows is a guide to Nurturing the heart of men.
I’m not good enough.
So many men suffer from this belief. We suffer because in our formative years we were told this by often angry parents, teachers, older siblings, or friends. Something we have done did not live up to the expected standards of someone else. But how could it? We were children, just learning skills. No way we could get it right the first time or times. Even though today we know better we still carry this message deep in our hearts. The truth is we are more than good enough. We are human beings making our way through life’s trials and tribulations so yes, there will be slip-ups and bumps in the road. This doesn’t mean we are not good enough it means we have more to learn. So, keep learning and keep moving forward.
I am afraid of rejection
So many men are afraid to take initiative, especially in our relationships. We may look big and strong on the outside, but inside we are too often scared of being rejected, not understood, or even mocked. So we often don’t take the risk to offer our love, to appreciate a loved one, initiate something special, or give the world our creative gifts. Look we are not going to please everyone and that is ok. We are not on this earth to make sure everyone is happy. That’s called being co-dependent. We are here to live fully and to do that we must face the fear of rejection for what it is. Nothing but a bump in the road. Take some risks, brothers and you will find out that, more often than not, your gifts will be welcomed.
I'm not successful enough
This is a big one especially for those of us who like to compare ourselves with others. Speaking of comparing did you notice that when we are comparing we rarely compare ourselves to someone who we perceive to be “less than” us? Instead, we think we should be the next ultra businessman, multi-millionaire, perfect father/husband. The thing is our real success in life is measured by how much we have loved and been loved.
I’m too critical
True, we may be too critical of others, holding them to some higher standard. But this is always because we are too critical of ourselves. We wound our hearts when we continually bash ourselves. Sure kicking ourselves in the butt to get going isn’t a bad strategy. It becomes bad when we lambaste and mock ourselves and project other peoples words onto ourselves. It’s too easy to do that, so let’s cut ourselves some slack and forgive ourselves for whatever we are berating ourselves over. Say to yourself, “it’s ok Al, you made a mistake. What is one constructive thing I can learn from this? By the way Al, everything always works out for me, doesn’t it?” I know, it seems crazy to talk to yourself like that but guess what, we already are just negatively so why not flip the script?
I’m not man enough
This is a tough one. Usually, when we say this it means I’m not strong enough, decisive enough, but often it also means I’m not sexual enough. As men, we have often grown up with the illusion that men always need to be strong. The word “virile” has historically only been applied to men with strength and a strong sex drive. I know of several men who like me have been through prostate surgery either due to cancer to BPH, and are alive because of treatment, but have mostly lost their sexual function. For most men, sexual virility is the definition of manhood. But I beg to differ. The real definition of manhood is kindness, generosity, and forgiveness. Applying our strength and masculine force to these and the 10 virtues of men is my new definition of virility!
I’m a failing Father
Sadly, a lot of fathers feel this, especially fathers who work full-time in jobs that rob them of energy, so when they can be with their children, they are just too tired. So what can we do? We can be present. A few minutes playing in the yard with our children or taking them for a bike ride will do wonders you're your relationship with them. Try developing an evening routine that incorporates a reading session with them. It gives both you and them downtime and forms a great end of day ritual. Then there are dads of grown children, like me. Here’s a secret: children of any age still need your love, your appreciation, to know that you’re proud of them, and (the big one), that you need their love too.
I don’t feel enough
For many men, their “go-to” emotion is anger, but anger (sometimes hidden in “frustration” or “irritability”) is a surface emotion, a cover for a wide range of emotions underneath. Yes, men also feel fear, sadness, shame, and many others. Like I said earlier it is the expression of our vulnerabilities that opens everyone’s heart. It is your undefended vulnerability that makes you most attractive to others. Try it and see.
I’m living on autopilot
Yes, life can become predictable, even boring, without doing the deeper work on yourself. Too many men feel like robots, going through the motions of life, and not really living their lives. But you can do something about that. You can take more risks in your relationships, and find ways to improve your health. You can find a good therapist, a men’s retreat, a class, anything. Shake things up by changing your pattern, your schedules.
What’s the point of life anyway
Each of us has a purpose here on earth, a gift to give, and love to give and receive. It’s worth anything to find out your unique purpose. I invite you to open to a spiritual dimension, no matter how old you are. Learn to meditate and pray. Find your place in the Cosmos. You can celebrate your life any time, any place.
The ideas here are not all-inclusive as there are many ways we men can nurture our hearts. One way that has a proven track record for success is Heartmath. Check out my podcast with Sharon Inkster, Certified HeartMath Trainer to learn more about these techniques.