A man takes care of his emotional health. He takes responsibility for his feelings. When it is called for, he expresses them meaningfully and accurately as possible. This means allowing emotions to come through in all their glorious and troublesome ways. The wounded boy was taught that his feelings were unacceptable. He may have been shouted down, physically harmed, or simply ignored when his feelings came through. This is a huge wounding. It conveys to the boy that he must hide his feelings and keep them to himself. With time, he learns to become unaware of his true feelings as he negotiates a world that seems to always punish him for having them. He may numb his feelings with chemical substances, work, or other addictions so that the emergence of his true feelings do not disturb the delicate balance of unawareness he has achieved. This is one of the great tragedies of our time—that boys are taught that their feelings are unacceptable. It has contributed to many disasters in our world as boy-men go about the world in numbness, killing, destroying, pillaging, and exploiting the planet and the beings that inhabit it.
It often takes help from a mentor, therapist, lover, or other interested person to help the wounded boy grow out of this state of numbness and lack of awareness of his feelings. It is a great leap toward manhood when he is able to come out of his emotional lethargy and begin to risk feeling again. If he is able to summon the courage in the presence of the right encouragement, he can begin to uncover the feelings of his wounded boy and care for them. He can comfort that wounded boy and learn to respect his own feelings. Once he can accept and respect his own feelings, he may open to the feelings of others, making way for a full and healthy emotional life.
The following Rumi poem presents an example of a healthy expression of emotions.
THE MOST ALIVE MOMENT
The most living moment comes when
those who love each other meet each
other’s eyes and in what flows
between them then. To see your face
in a crowd of others, or alone on a
frightening street, I weep for that.
Our tears improve the earth. The
time you scolded me, your gratitude,
your laughing, always your qualities
increase the soul. Seeing you is a
wine that does not muddle or numb.
We sit inside the cypress shadow
where amazement and clear thought
twine their slow growth into us. Rumi