I've felt a shift coming for the last few years pertaining to the expression and expectation of masculinity in our culture. It was a combination of intuitive knowing that there is another way and watching what men in our culture are asked to do and knowing it's not loving or sustainable. I'm talking about our cultural teaching and expectation that men do not show emotion. Me are told to be strong and stoic instead; there are so many sayings that people throw around from "brush it off" to "grown men don't cry." Men struggle with bouts of anger, rage, and depression and their suicide rates are five times higher than women. This is exactly why our relationships are filled with so much ego and so little true emotional intimacy and unconditional love.
In 2017, women had a year of public rising. Starting with the Women's March and moving into more public discussions of what it means to be a feminist and the #MeToo movement. Women are standing up against the wounded masculine patriarchy and saying no more! We are stepping into our power, our birthright of being whole, connected beings embodying divine feminine and masculine qualities within us. As women honor their shadows, heal their wounds and those of their ancestors, we need men to step up and meet us there.
We are calling the patriarchy out and calling the Divine Masculine up to stand with us in this new way of being. As we heal and rise, we need to clear space and allow men to heal and rise as well. If we want true balance, true partnership, true union within and without, we ALL need to hear the call to RISE.
I'm listening to Lewis Howes' The Mask of Masculinity as I drive across the country from California to Chicago. Howes is a thought leader, as a former NFL football player and also the victim of childhood rape, he knows first hand how deep the wounds are and the cost of not expressing and healing the pain. He discusses nine types of masks that men wear, and quite frankly I think a lot of women wear many of them in one way or another as well. A few examples of the masks he talks about are the Stoic Mask, the Athlete Mask, and the Material Mask. He goes into detail as to the ways these mask erode our relationships and how to begin removing them.
This is not just a book for men, this is a wake up call for all humans to look at the masks we wear and the masks that we ask others to wear. How are you showing up in the world? Do you let people see your heart and soul fully naked or do you have layer upon layer of ego protecting your true self? It can be so scary to be completely open and vulnerable, it takes a ton of courage to show up as your full, aligned, whole self in every aspect of your life. But if we don't, we are hiding and never giving others the opportunity to truly see us and thus truly love us.
So why do we do this? Where do these masks come from? Male or female, we are taught at an early age that some emotions are acceptable and some are not. We're taught that our emotions are burdensome to others and are even "inappropriate." Human beings feel A LOT, whether we admit it or not. We are also very compassionate by nature. This combination of feeling and compassion can lead to experiencing an overwhelming amount of our own and others' pain. It's not comfortable to be in pain (by the very definition of the word) so we try to control it, contain it and prevent it. We do this to such a degree that it becomes second nature and deeply subconscious. We have no idea how much feeling we are blocking on a day to day basis and every time we block feeling, we are creating space between ourselves and true connection.
The great paradox is that to feel great love, joy, peace, freedom, and all of the other wonderful emotions and feelings we enjoy, we have to feel all of the painful emotions as well. As Brene Brown says in her famous TED talk on The Power of Vulnerability, we can't selectively numb emotion. If we numb pain, we also numb joy. It reminds me of getting a shot of Novocaine at the dentist's office, it is wonderful to not have to feel the full extent of having your tooth drilled into, but if you treat yourself to ice cream after, you also won't fully taste the deliciousness.
So what is the solution to this destructive cycle we've found ourselves in? We have to bring our emotions back online. We have to wake ourselves up, begin to truly FEEL, and remove the masks. It's a dance, as a mask comes off, there will be emotions underneath to be felt. As you feel those emotions, more "ah ha's" will come and more masks will be removed. It's like unlocking our own prison doors one corridor at a time. Most of us are so deeply locked in prison that we both don't realize there's another way to live and if we do, we think someone else holds the key. I'm here to tell you, there is so much light and love on the other side and, YOU HOLD THE KEY! You always have, it's just a matter of deciding that it's time to let yourself out. You've been offline for long enough, the world needs your light, your love, your heart.
I can't wait for you to join me in freedom!