Tag Archives: authenticity

Timing is Everything.

DSCF3524If he’s a masculine man, then he is driven to make things happen—that is one way he wants to take care of you.

In the post before this one, I shared some info about how men and women think differently because of the way their brains work, about feminine and masculine energy and about why it is essential to give our gifts of feminine/masculine energy to each other.

In this post, I look at the timing of inviting your man back into love.

When to Interrupt Him

First of all, make good choices about when to interrupt him to extend the invitation back into love. Because yes, it is your job to do this for your man—but he does get to be a man.

I don’t like it when I’m in my masculine mode working on a project and making good progress and in the “zone” and someone interrupts me. I tend to be irritated by the interruption.

And we women can only marginally understand how it must be to a man, who not only has the driven, focused man thing going on but also is working with a man brain that has the luxury of being able to focus on one thing at a time.

When you interrupt him, he will be confused, upset, abrupt, irritated, etc. What he is doing is just removing his focus from what he had it on to focus on you. Men tell me it can be a real effort.

But know that he does need this invitation from you, ladies—at the appropriate time. He needs to be invited back into love, into emotions—back into his heart and belly.

So just expect him to be irritated or impatient with you for interrupting his thought process. But be brave. Give your man this gift anyway, even though it will seem to you like he doesn’t want it.

He needs it.

Just because he shows irritation or annoyance at your invitation, doesn’t mean you necessarily have to go along with him not being in his love room/box. Invite him into love.

The same way we ask men to be brave and withstand our emotions and just stand strong and firm for us even when we say we don’t want that? Well, be brave for your man and give him your feminine gift of bringing him back into his heart, back into intimacy with you—even when he shows irritation at you for doing so. Stand your ground—softly and powerfully—and just do it.

Respecting his Time/Work—to a Point

If you know, for example, that he is hard at work on a contract that needs to be completed by the end of the business day and then knowing how his brain works, why would you interrupt him (excepting for an actual emergency of some sort, of course)?

Let him be a man. Give him space to do his man thing. If he’s a masculine man, then he is driven to make things happen—that is one way he wants to take care of you.

Being successful, succeeding at his goals, making money and making things happen are ways he gives you his masculine gifts. He wants to do these things because it makes him feel good, makes him feel like man.

He also does these things to make you proud of him; he wants to make you happy. Let him make you happy. Be proud of him. Let him succeed. Let him do his man stuff and accept it for the gift that it is. Tell him how much you appreciate him.

Why is he Ignoring Me?

Ladies, according to Alison Armstrong, it is impossible for a man to ignore you. He is not ignoring you, so stop taking it personally. Just learn when and how to—kindly, softly—interrupt him and invite him to pay attention to you and to love.

The design of his brain makes it impossible for him to ignore you. He is thinking about and focused on something else, and when he does that, he does it to the exclusion of everything else.

He is just so focused on whatever it is that he is doing or thinking that no other information gets in. He has the luxury of being able to focus on one thing at a time.

So stop taking this personally and stop giving him so much crap about it. He doesn’t deserve it.

When my man doesn’t answer my text right now, I know he is busy. I trust he is taking care of things—no matter what those things may be. I trust him to take care of his business—whatever that is.

In fact, I seldom text or contact him during his workday. I know his mind is on his work.

And if I do contact him while he’s busy, I know he may be blunt, abrupt and/or short with me—because he’s a man and he’s busy. That doesn’t mean he is always abrupt with me when I interrupt him, because we’ve had this conversation.

It just means that I have given myself fair warning that that is the most possible response—at least until I get him into his Grace box, that is.

I love thinking about him doing his masculine thing; I know that is one way he is taking care of our relationship and me.

I am not offended. In fact, it is a turn on for me. I love that he is doing his man thing. I know that when he is able to give me his full attention, he will contact me. I trust him to know when he is able to do that for me.

And I love when I have his full attention. Think about it ladies, he can only focus on one thing at a time. So when he’s focused on you, you are all he is thinking about.

Workaholics

I have heard women complain about their men being married to their jobs or of being workaholics, etc. I think that these women do not realize that they could be playing a very different and important role to help keep this from happening—or to reverse this trend/habit.

I am not saying it is okay for men to behave this way, and to absolve themselves of the responsibility of paying attention to their relationship. And some men are so driven, and are even perhaps using their work to distract them from a dysfunctional, worn out relationship that they don’t want to address, that they don’t realize this has happened.

But believe me, the woman knows when this is happening.

These men could also be so driven that they do not realize there is any other way to be. These are the men who have let themselves become obsessed and rigid because they have been too immersed in masculine energy, not allowing their women to gift them with the feminine.

And while I am also not saying a woman should be held responsible for her man’s behavior (nor should she be manipulating him), a skillful, confident (brave!), woman, educated in the fine art of inviting a man back into love, who is deeply expressing her feminine essence, can be a good remedy for this type of problem.

When not to Interrupt Him

There is one time, however, when it is probably not a good time to interrupt him—when he is in his “nothing box,” as Mark Gungor calls it. Men go to their nothing box/room for various reasons. According to Mark, men retreat to their nothing box when they are stressed and need to unwind and need to just “be.”

This is often, when you are arguing, why he will want to end the conversation as soon as possible. He needs to go to his nothing box to process. He is not dissing you; he is not ignoring you. He is not necessarily trying to run from you or the problem; he is just handling stress the way a man handles stress.

Men, this doesn’t give you permission; however, to run from your woman and the emotions she is gifting you with just to avoid her and the conflict she is bringing you.

Storing Testosterone

John Gray, the author of Men are From Mars and Women are From Venus, explains that for men who work hard—and especially for those who exercise daily, and are using big muscle groups, their down time (nothing box time) is important for building and storing testosterone.

Testosterone is built and stored during sleep too, but according to him, more testosterone is produced and stored during a man’s down time than during sleep.

So when your man has been working hard and is taking time and is sitting in front of the TV, flipping through channels and appears to be doing nothing, he is producing and storing testosterone—and to interrupt him is actually a subtle form of emasculation, according to Alison Armstrong.

When he’s done, when he’s full up on testosterone, he will emerge from the nothing box and be ready to go. When he emerges from the nothing box is the best time to ask him to help you, because he is full of testosterone and ready to expend energy.

Or Not

When I took this theory to Steve Horsmon, who is a relationship coach, he initially disagreed—until we clarified about whom we were talking. He clarified that this theory does not apply to those men who are lazy and use sitting in front of the TV as an excuse to not do what they need to be doing. Those men, he said, need a kick in the ass and need to be held accountable.

He is talking about the man who sits on the couch in a pile of potato chip crumbs and powder sugar fall-out way too long and too often and does not follow through with his commitments.

Look for the next post where we get into the fine art (techniques) of inviting your man back into love.

Photo courtesy of Death to the Stock Photo.

Not for Women Only: How to Avoid the Complaint Meltdown.

1stphone1We cannot wound out of anger and on purpose to hurt someone and expect him or her to tolerate such behavior.

“When a woman gets emotionally intense, a mediocre man wants to calm her down and discuss it, or leave and come back when she is “sane.” A superior man penetrates her mood with imperturbable love and unwavering consciousness. If she still refuses to live more fully in love, after a time, he lets her go.”
~David Deida, The Way of the Superior Man

This is following on the blog heels of Not for Men Only: The Anatomy of a Woman’s Complaint. In that blog, I suggest how a woman’s complaint can be navigated successfully and even used by men as the gift and tool that it is.

Gentlemen, use a woman’s complaint as a barometer to how you are living your highest purpose—or not living it. See her complaint as holding a deeper meaning for you.

“A man should hear his woman’s complaints like warning bells, and then do his best to align his life with his truth and purpose. Her complaint should be valued as a reminder to “get it together,” and perhaps as an indication of how. But more often than not, the specifics of her complaint do not describe the real, underlying action or tendency that needs to be changed.” ~David Deida

Are you promising things you can’t deliver? Even small, seemingly insignificant breaches of integrity are important and will inform women about how you are, or are not, living your highest purpose.

She can feel when you are not in your integrity. If you are not impeccable with your word, she begins to feel she can’t trust you. When she feels she can’t trust you, she doesn’t feel safe.

When she doesn’t feel safe, she will be in pain and confusion. When she is in pain and confusion, she will express that as sadness, fear, depression, anger, withdrawal, etc. When she is in that state, she will most often bring it you in the form of anger.

Another very common woman reaction to lack of integrity in her man will be her need to feel like she has to man-up. She will become hard and masculine, building a wall of masculinity between you two, because she feels—even if on a subconscious level—that you are not strong in your masculinity and are not leading.

She will feel like you are not to be trusted, so she has to be masculine to meet her own safety requirements. If you are not leading—in life and in your relationship, she will take on that role—much to the detriment of your life, relationship and attraction to her.

Most women rate safety/security/certainty very high on Tony Robbins’ list of The 6 Human Needs. If we feel that you are not safe because we can’t trust you, we may not know that’s why we feel so “off,” but we will feel that “off-ness”—probably even more than you feel it.

How to help a woman feel safe with you in general but especially when she is in the middle of being emotionally intense/wild?

“…you do so by standing your ground and loving so strongly that only love prevails. You can’t quit when you seem to fail, but rather, you must learn from your failures and return to love. Give your gift. Like wrestling a steer or surfing the ocean waves, mastery involves blending with your woman’s powerful energy and feeling the rise and fall of the moment, without lapsing in presence for a second.

You’re going to get stamped on by the steer, you’re going to get swamped by the ocean, and you’re going to get hurt by your woman. This is how you learn. You get up, dust yourself off, swim to shore, and turn and face your woman again. The only options are fear or mastery. You can quit, you can choose small steer and tiny waves, you can wait for your woman to calm down, or you can even threaten her. Or, you can take the moment as a challenge to your ability to conquer the world, and your woman, with love.”
~David Deida

For the Ladies

Remember that men are hard-wired to make us happy and to fix things. When you take a complaint/pain to him, he is going to want to fix it. He is going to want to fix you, in fact. Either that or he may want to retreat—because that is what some men do when they are stressed. He may want you to be rational and calm—like a man.

If he doesn’t retreat, because he loves and values you, he will bring to you, as Mark Gungor says, his very best man solutions: 1. Fix it/you, 2. Tell you not to think about it, “Just don’t think about it. Put it out of your mind.” Because men can actually do that. And it’s their go-to when they’re stressed.

Women, however, because of how our brains work (very unlike men’s), are unable to do that. We are always making connections and always thinking millions of things all at the same time, as well as always feeling and attaching emotions to everything we’re thinking.

Because we connect everything to everything else—in our brains and in our lives and to emotions—it is pretty much impossible for a problem in one area of our lives to not affect every other part of our lives.

If we are upset about one (even seemingly small) thing in our lives, it will affect everything we do and think and live and say. It just does. That’s the physiology of the female brain.

So don’t let anyone (including yourself!) shame you into thinking that you should be able to just turn that shit off liking flipping a switch—because chances are, you can’t.

And don’t let anyone tell you that emotions are wrong. Emotions can’t be wrong—or right. They just exist.

Emotions define us as feminine. The Divine Feminine aspect is about wildness, emotions, senses, the physical body, power that is both soft and fierce flowing from us in the form of emotions and love.

It is this wildness, the emotions and that softness coupled with power that make us feminine.

“A happy woman is a woman relaxed in her body and heart: powerful, unpredictable, deep, potentially wild and destructive, or calm and serene, but always full of life, surrendered to and moved by the great force of her oceanic heart.”
~David Deida

And it is a gift to men when we bring them these emotions. Without us, men would stay in their heads and seldom move down into their hearts and/or bellies. They would become rigid and obsessed. And our pain/complaints/emotions can inform them about whether they are living their integrity or not.

Having said all of that toward clarity, it is also important to say that this doesn’t give anyone the right to purposely shame, degrade or hurt anyone else under the guise of expressing their emotions.

There may be people—both men and women—whose motives are questionable, who don’t care about fighting fairly, about not damaging others with their words and anger.

Don’t be that person.

I know that feminine emotions feel drastic, immediate and all consuming. And if we don’t talk about them, we feel like we’re going to explode. The longer we hold them in, the worse they get, the angrier we get, the sadder, the more depressed, etc.

But that doesn’t give anyone license to carelessly cut into someone with anger, to purposely wound. We are still responsible for ourselves, our words, the way we express our needs, our pain, our emotions.

Do you want to be around someone who constantly uses their anger destructively and purposely against you, shaming you, dominating you, trying to make you wrong and make you feel bad—someone who always has to “win” at your expense?

No, and no one else does either. Even in our femininity of owning and being proud rather than ashamed of our emotions, we must remember that misuse of power is never okay.

We cannot wound out of anger and on purpose to hurt someone and expect him or her to tolerate such behavior. And you should not tolerate it from anyone else, either.

“With great power, comes great responsibility.” ~Voltaire

And the energy of the feminine essence is absolutely powerful. Just ask any man how it feels to be facing an angry, upset, crying, powerfully emoting woman.

Unpack the Complaint First

Think about what Alison Armstrong says about complaints: A complaint equals an unmet need and is a cowardly way to express that need.

So how about taking some time to have a look at what is underneath the complaint/fear/pain before taking it to him? How about being brave?

And how about remembering that he loves you and that he is hard-wired to make you happy? And remember something else Alison says: What if no one is misbehaving? What if there’s a good reason for everything everyone does?

What if the man you love is just trying to help you, albeit in the only way he knows how—in a masculine way?

Sure there are those that want to wound on purpose, out of defensiveness, fear, habit, passive aggressiveness, past wounds, etc. But think about assuming positive intent first.

This is a practice/habit that could change your entire life.

So consider taking some time to unpack your anger/pain first. Ask yourself, “What’s the unmet need underneath that, what’s supporting it?” Is it fear? Did an old button from childhood or a former relationship get pushed?

Living Vulnerably

Is it vulnerability, itself, that confuses and scares you? It scares me!

In our world, it seems that anger and blame are more socially acceptable forms of emotional expression than fear, pain, sadness, or any admission of any kind of vulnerability. In her research, Brene Brown found that most people defined “blame” as “a way to discharge anger.”

And anger often seems to be a defense, a cover-up—usually in response to a more vulnerable/scary feeling that needs to be ignored or denied for fear of that vulnerability being seen as a weakness, because we tend to view the admission/allowance of vulnerability as a weakness and not as the pure courage that it really is.

Being vulnerable leaves us open to pain, to getting hurt, because not only do we see an admission of vulnerability as a weakness, there is also, unfortunately, the commonly acceptable response to the recognition of vulnerability: Attack.

Hit them where it hurts (verbally or otherwise) and where they’re vulnerable in order to “win” and prove that we are stronger, smarter and better than they are. It is sad but often true.

When faced with the admission and recognition of vulnerability—yours or anyone else’s—respect it for the pure bravery it really is and have the courage to address it as such, to speak to and from that place—with respect, being honored to be in that sacred, private place.

Please know that not everyone will appreciate your vulnerability. It will freak some folks out. Vulnerability and authenticity are a choice you make. I highly recommend them, but I cannot say they are easy.

Quite bluntly, they scare the hell out of me. But you can’t unknow something, right? Having crossed that boundary into a more vulnerable, authentic way of living, I just can’t live with myself anymore if I am less than that. So I keep forging ahead, hoping it will get easier as I practice it more.

And while I can’t say it’s easy, the benefits and the amazing people and events that are showing up in my life because of it, make my efforts absolutely worth it.

So instead of instantly blasting your man with blind anger, sit with it for some time and dig for the need under your complaint.

After some introspection and a look at Tony Robbins’ The 6 Human Needs, perhaps, maybe you find that what you need to present to him instead is a heartfelt, vulnerable admission that you have a strong need to feel safe and that you want to work with him to help make that happen.

Using the same scenario as the previous post, for instance, respectfully tell him that when he doesn’t follow through with what he says he is going to do, you begin to feel you can’t trust him—talk about the pain and fear it brings up in you—and when you begin to feel that you can’t trust him, you feel unsafe—in the world and in the relationship.

And then you might talk about how frightened you feel and how you want to feel safe and how most of the time you do feel safe with him, and how much you love the way he makes you feel safe most of the time. Tell him how he is your hero for being such a safe harbor for you.

And is there anything he needs from you to be able to follow through? Maybe he needs you to remind him nicely in a day or two, because he is a man who is focused and driven, and he is always out there in the world making things happen—things that support you and the relationship—because he loves you.

And is there a block, maybe, that he’s working with, so that he is unable (because of his own baggage and buttons, etc.) to follow through?

Most of all, think of how brave he is—being in the presence of such a powerful, emoting woman as you are—without shutting down and/or running.

Thank him for this. Let him know that he is your hero.

When we admit to and come from that place of authentic vulnerability in ourselves, it invites and gives permission to others to do the same.

Staying in Vulnerability

What if he gets defensive or angry anyway?

Stay in your heart and belly—breathe evenly and slowly and deliberately from low in your belly. Take your time. Do not raise your voice.

On some level (and because women’s brains are made the way they are, this is something totally possible) keep encouraging yourself to stay calm while at the same time letting your emotions/pain fuel your voice. Choose your words carefully.

Be honest with yourself in your word and tone choices: Are you choosing them to wound? Are you choosing them out of habit? Do you need to find a clearer, cleaner, less passive-aggressive way to speak?

Stay strong in the conviction that you have a right to your emotions and that you have a right to express them—responsibly, kindly.

Stay in the vulnerability, the truth of you. Stay strong and soft—and lean into the discomfort of how difficult the process is. Just continue to speak with intensity, love and authenticity, knowing you will be proud, later, to look back and know you spoke your truth with soft, intense force.

Make yourself control your voice and your emotions, but let the intensity and power from deep within you be very evident (it gets easier with practice). Keep imagining the center of your chest open and relaxed.

(Let me just say right here how difficult and even embarrassing this can seem. But stay in your integrity! If you want to live vulnerably and authentically and with integrity, just do it. Stop waiting for someone to give you permission! You give you permission. Don’t let anyone pull you out of it or talk you out of it. You can do it! It takes courage and practice. And remember, when you feel like you’re failing at it—and you probably really aren’t: Dignity is a choice.)

Put the intensity of all that vulnerable discomfort and possible anger and pain and emotions behind the soft firmness of your voice. You may even be weeping at this point, because of the intensity and emotions that are behind your words, powering them.

That’s okay. All of that force, that power, has to escape somehow. Speak it and let it leak from you eyes if need be. Be proud that you are able to be so open and honest and authentic and vulnerable.

This is feminine power. This is the soft-powerful energy of femininity that will make you proud, later, when you see how you harnessed it and directed it after you let it take you to new places of authenticity and vulnerability within yourself so that you could reveal those places to him.

Do not allow yourself to be pulled out of your softness, that vulnerable heart-place you’re in. Do not match his defensiveness or display of anger.

Don’t become hard, masculine, dominant or aggressive. Do not attempt to dominate him or subdue him—that is masculine energy and he will most likely polarize into passive, feminine energy.

Either that, or he will become even more masculine—which may lead to some form of posturing and/or aggression in the form, usually, of anger or more defensiveness.

Tell him kindly, respectfully that it is not your intention to cause defensiveness in him, but only to bring to him your truth, your pain and your open heart in hopes of finding a vulnerable, authentic place where the two of you can meet.

Keep the intensity.

In this way, you will be able to stay powerfully in your feminine energy, inviting him to polarize and stay in his masculine energy. In this way, you will not be hard and masculine and unreachable in your pain/anger. You will still be open, even in and during, the pain and discomfort.

It just might give you both, together, a place from which to dive into a whole new ocean of understanding, depth and intimacy.

Let me know how it goes. And when you have mastered this, get in touch and clue me in, will ya? Because I will want to know how you did it so that I can too!

Trust and Betrayal.

 DeathtoStock_Medium5Keeping my heart open is essential for allowing trust—but it also allows for possible bruising, and even breakage.

Remember, though, when someone or some situation seems to have betrayed your trust and your heart (and ego?) is limping around, still assessing the damage: You didn’t do anything wrong by trusting.

My first thought is usually, ”Why did I trust her/him?!”

My next thought is that I feel stupid to have somehow “allowed” myself to be betrayed.

Let your heart hurt if it needs to, but let it hurt because of the betrayal itself, not because you trusted them. Trust is not a weakness; it’s a blessing and a gift—to ourselves first, and then also to everyone else. Please don’t add to the heartache by doubting your decision to trust.

“The fact that you are feeling big pain lets you know you are truly living big. When you live a big and openhearted life, the possibility of big pain is also present.” ~ Jo Underwood

I used to feel like a fool if someone betrayed my trust. I would spend large amounts of time beating myself up, looking back at all the signs I should have somehow deciphered differently to somehow have figured out that this person was at some point going to betray me.

I thought I was somehow “guilty” and to blame for not being smart enough to know a betrayer when I saw one. I think those who are betrayed are often seen as naïve, stupid, blind or gullible. At the kindest, they are seen as victims.

“You should have known better,” the betrayed are told.

Silly, right? Yeah, I know. But I think we humans seem to believe some version of that much of the time.

There is no shame in having been betrayed. Indeed, the shame, if there is any to be spread around, might better go to the betrayer. They took trust and misused it.

To trust is to be open to possibilities. It is to let the heart fly and sing and swell. To trust is to be brave and generous. It is to give up trying to control those things outside ourselves.

To trust is offer up one of the most sacred gifts we have to give. To just jump in with enthusiasm and trust with your big, available heart, ready to believe the very best is possible, is like magic.

It’s the opposite of enabling, the opposite of co-dependence. It’s like saying, “I know you can handle this. I’m gonna just let you do it your way, because I know you got this. I’ll be right over here cheering you on, and when you’re done, we can go celebrate that you showed up and did your best.”

It is best served up in times of worry, uncertainty and fear. It can come in many forms, too—big like a formal prayer carefully lifted up to a higher power, or more simply like a quick, small knowing that the right words will somehow spill right out my mouth when I look up and realize a friend in need is walking toward me.

And to be trusted, when someone else gives me that gift—well, it is like being handed the shiny, secret key to his or her tender heart. I want to hold that so carefully, so respectfully.

So trust. Be that brave, that vulnerable, that allowing and open. Just jump into the pool of trust and sink down into it. Be brave enough to become the person that goes first. It feels scary at first, but then good when you realize what a relief it is, how it makes your body relax, your breathing settle low into a soft belly. And it feels good no matter how well it is received—or even if it is received.

Just the act of trusting is enough.

Try it. Imagine someone or something in your mind, face him or her and say, “I trust you. I trust you to do whatever it is that you need to do in whatever way you need to do it.” And then let it go. You’ve given it to them, so that now you can let them take it from there. You don’t have to worry about it anymore.

But what if, in doing it their way, they violate something in us? We must trust that everyone is doing the best they can in each moment with what they have to work with in that moment—including ourselves.

“What if no one is misbehaving?” ~ Alison Armstrong

We forgive. We ask them about their motives. We listen with an open, trusting heart, and discover that they had ample, satisfying reasons for what they’ve done—reasons we couldn’t have imagined, but that prove they were not misbehaving, they were simply trusting themselves too.

We don’t trust for anyone else, my dears, we trust for ourselves—to release ourselves from that small, tight, dark place where we put our hearts originally for protection, but which, some time ago—and without our conscious consent—has actually become a prison.

And in trusting and being open and vulnerable, you will discover different types of people: those you may choose not to be around, those who push your boundaries of trust, those who betray you and also those who maybe don’t betray you exactly, but perhaps try to use your trust to their advantage. The more you practice trust, the easier it is to recognize these.

What to do with those?

Brene Brown, the vulnerability-shame queen, says it best:

“How do you make yourself be vulnerable with somebody you don’t completely trust, like in a relationship?”

“You don’t,” Brene answers.

It is almost like a sacrament when, after I’ve been betrayed and I have finally let the water clear and all the sediment has settled back down to the bottom of the pond, I realize: I didn’t do anything wrong.

I was just showing up, living my life with my own brand of wacky, authentic integrity and balance, doing my best, making mistakes but keeping my heart open, assuming positive intent, allowing vulnerability, not perfect, not right—just trusting.

The fact that that person lied to me, cheated on me, verbally attacked me, tried to shame me or betrayed me says absolutely nothing negative about me. It doesn’t necessarily make me a victim, either.

It just says I know how to trust, I know how to not take on the responsibility for something that is not mine, I know how to live and love big—from an open, vulnerable heart—and that is a glorious thing.

Don’t let past betrayals talk your heart out of showing up! Keep it unlocked and open and ready to be amazed by the (mostly!) goodness all around you.

Don’t be ashamed of being betrayed. Don’t let anyone talk you into thinking you did anything wrong by trusting. More importantly, don’t let you talk yourself into that.

Remember that to trust is to be brave. It empowers you, and those you trust, as well.

First published at elephant journal.

Walking our Talk – The Vulnerability Challenge.

DeathtoStock_Medium4We live in a world that is—for the most part—not accepting of men being vulnerable and expressing their true emotions.

This needs to change.

A friend who is also a single parent called me on Christmas Eve to tell me that his kids (older teenagers) had bailed on going to Christmas Eve church service with him. He was also unsure whether they were going to follow through with the plans he had made to spend time with them.

He said he needed to talk about it and asked what my thoughts were on the issue.

We owe it to our kids, indeed to the world, to live and speak from our hearts, to recognize vulnerability and have the courage to speak from that place of pain/joy/authenticity.

It is the only way, in my opinion, that our children will learn how to be true, authentic, compassionate humans—only if we model it for them, and even if they do roll their eyes at us.

He expressed his indecision in that moment, just because he hadn’t yet had time to meditate on it, about how to handle the situation. He admitted to his desire to keep a stiff upper lip and just hand them their Christmas presents and leave, giving in and trying to respect that maybe they really didn’t want to spend time with him.

He expressed more when he said he wanted to have a talk with them about honor, respect and family. I could feel his sadness, pain, confusion and anger through the phone—and his indecision about into which of those he might finally land.

As a single parent, I must admit to sometimes doing much the same. My daughter and I enjoy an authentic, vulnerable, joyful, fun relationship most of the time. But I have also kept a stiff upper lip at times, not wanting to express my hurt and pain to her over something that might have happened between us.

I’ve done that to preserve some sort of peace that I seem to think is necessary between us. But what peace can be had when I’m holding back my authentic self and not allowing myself to be vulnerable?

Even more importantly is the fact that he is a father and a man. And he is a man that I know is willing and able to live in his masculine, as well as vulnerable, heart. We have often talked about how important and difficult it is to live from that vulnerable, strong place.

Yet we live in a world that does not value a man’s vulnerability, that does not welcome a man who is expressing emotions—especially if those emotions involve sadness, pain or indecision.

We accept anger from a man—indeed most men express anger first and foremost in adverse situations—mainly because our society teaches that as appropriate and that is what is so often modeled as normal for men. But we very seldom welcome pain, tears or sadness from men.

Men repeatedly told Brene Brown, the amazing shame-vulnerability expert, that women couldn’t handle their true, deep vulnerability, that we women kick the emotional shit out of men when they express their true pain and sadness. So they admitted to pretending to be vulnerable, and they only tell us what they think we can handle.

Remember ladies: men are basically hard-wired to make us happy. It’s just the way their brains work. So of course they want to be vulnerable when we ask it of them, but can you blame them for not showing us the true pain when we kick them emotionally for it?

Can you blame them for pretending to be vulnerable?

My first thought was: How masculine of them—how very chivalrous and protective to not want to upset us.

My second thought was the same one Brene had: Oh my gawd, I am the patriarchy, the oppressor.

We ask, even beg, men to tell us what’s going on inside, what they’re feeling, what emotions they are experiencing. “Please let me in,” we demand of them. We get upset when they won’t share with us. But according to her research, when men do share the real emotions, the real pain, doubts and fears, we women very often can’t handle it—and men know this.

I relate the story of how it showed up in Brene’s life. She came home and saw that her husband was upset about some extended family issues. She immediately got angry and wanted to pick a fight with him.

Instead—and because she had done so much research about this very thing—she pretended she was in a movie taking direction, playing a character that knew how to handle that sort of situation without anger.

Anger is very often fueled by fear. We live in a world that is afraid of men being vulnerable and expressing their true emotions. And this fear is often expressed as derision, as shaming. This must change.

How are we going to change this?

As a woman, I am committed to learning how to carefully, lovingly and authentically sit with and support a man who is feeling and expressing emotions—especially the “negative” emotions. I am committed to learning to stop and think before I act and speak if, like Brene, my first impulse is to get angry with him.

“Vulnerability sounds like truth and feels like courage. Truth and courage aren’t always comfortable, but they’re never weakness.” ~Brene Brown

I am demanding of myself something better, something braver, something much more humane and vulnerable (scarier!). I have made a vow to not shame anyone, especially a man—who we women have already trained to not be fully vulnerable—for having emotions and expressing them. I am committed to learning to peacefully allow them, even when I might be feeling fear.

I am going to do these things because integrity demands it. The future demands it. The world my daughter is inheriting demands it.

I hope you will join me.

In doing my own work, in learning how to allow men to be vulnerable without letting myself be overcome by fear and then anger, I am asking men to meet me there in that scary, vulnerable place.

As a woman, I am asking men to please consider being brave enough to be vulnerable. I’m asking you to do your own work too—the work on yourself that will allow you to meet me there. Brene Brown points out that you can’t get to courage without going through vulnerability first.

I am asking for your trust.

And in asking for your trust, I am also admitting to failing at this at times, too—even now, when I have become so aware of its importance. So I thank you for your brilliant patience as I am learning.

I am asking you to help us heal our children, ourselves and, indeed, everyone on the Planet. I am willing to “go first” (thanks Steve Horsmon!) by offering that to you. I am willing to learn to sit with the discomfort of allowing if it means healing, for everyone, will take place.

And I believe healing will take place like this: one person at a time, one vulnerable exchange at a time. And men, I’m going to ask you to be even braver by living it out loud with me—by expressing this vulnerability on the stage of the world.

We are going to be even more courageous than that though, ladies and gentlemen, because we are going to be this vulnerable and brave in front of our own children, in our own homes.

We must.

Because everyone knows this is the real test of walking our talking, isn’t it? Not only by how we treat our friends, co-workers and the random person-in-need we help on the street, but by how we interact, breath-by-breath with those closest to us—at the kitchen table each morning, in the car on the way to soccer practice.

“If he’s not he should be by now. The things that happen to people we never really know. What happens in houses behind closed doors, what secrets—”

“Atticus don’t ever do anything to Jem and me in the house that he don’t do in the yard,” I said, feeling it my duty to defend my parent.

“Gracious child, I was raveling a thread, wasn’t even thinking about your father, but now that I am I’ll say this: Atticus Finch is the same in his house as he is on the public streets.”

~ To Kill a Mockingbird (Miss Maudie in a conversation with Scout)

We are going to teach by example. We are going to show up, be vulnerable, responsibly express our sadness, pain, joy, concerns. And when society tries to shame us into submission, we are going to take Brene Brown’s advise and not let them. We’re going to teach our children, chiefly by example, that is not okay to shame anyone else—ever.

And when we discover we have done it unconsciously, have reverted back to that without realizing it, we are going to make it right as soon as possible.

How do we not allow society, which most often shows up as a person trying to talk/shame us out of our emotions, to shame us? By simply stating, with calm, and even kind, conviction, “I refuse to let you shame me for my emotions. I am sad/in pain/upset/etc. right now. If you are not comfortable with that, then you might want to leave the room (my life?).”

“Don’t shrink. Don’t puff up. Just stand your holy ground.” ~ Brene Brown

I am confident my single-parent friend will choose the correct path for him, his children, the world, because I know and trust him to be a man who is willing and able to live in that authentic, necessarily vulnerable place.

And I sincerely hope you will join me in this vulnerable (scary!) quest. I hope you will be kind to yourself when, like me, you find yourself slipping and falling back into old patterns as you learn to move into a new, and hopefully better, way of being.

I hold a hope, a vision, that you and I can learn to be kind to, not only others, but also to ourselves when we “fail,” because that form of sweet, vulnerable self-allowing is also a most needed saving grace in our world.

Originally published at elephant journal.

Photo courtesy of Death to the Stock Photo.