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Throughout the centuries men have been expected to provide for their families and communities, wage war, and offer protection of all kinds, but it seems this persona has become a detriment in the 21st century. In many ways, men are still expected to provide for their families and communities and ensure all are safe, but it seems the facade of “strength” is weakening, and the consequence of repression is finally starting to show through the cracks.

This archaic version of being “strong” was reinforced in the 20th century where boys were told to be emotionless. They were taught that crying is bad and having thoughtful conversations about feelings is characteristic of women. But if we look at the human brain, we find no “gender” differences or social constructs. We find a big chunk of meat that operates roughly the same way for most people.

There are a million and one reasons for this emotional oppression stemming from survival mode to colonial capitalism, but the main takeaway here connects to the present moment and our health and wellness. The brain has basic functioning that generally operates the same way for all which means we all have the ability to acknowledge and feel what we are experiencing. And with years of scientific research under our belts, we know what happens when we refuse to and or are unable to unpack our trauma. What can we do to shift this harmful paradigm? The simple answer starts with feeling our feelings in the present moment.

How to Feel Feelings

No matter who you are or how you identify, feeling your feelings is not an easy feat especially if you were never taught how or were directly told to repress them. Trauma and repression are the top causes of addiction and substance use because substance masks your pain and make you feel like everything is okay. But just like generational repression, the more we ignore these feelings, the worse it will be in the long run.

Feeling your feelings starts by being present and slowing down. To feel your feelings, it means you aren’t avoiding or using a distraction. It means sitting in the mess of emotions that are running through your body and mind.

These feelings could start as anger, jealousy, or sadness, but to feel your feelings, we have to go deeper. What are those base emotions really saying? Are you really angry at your significant other or does this feeling have more to do with a past relationship experience? Are you really jealous of your brother or is this event triggering a childhood experience that reinforces parental absence? Why are you sad? Are you truly lonely or are you trying to avoid working things out with your friends because you owe them an apology? The point of this exercise is to stop the fleeting feelings as they happen and ask why they are happening.

Unless we are dealing with a true biological imbalance, emotions stem from current and or repressed experiences, and when we don’t take time in the moment to fully process them, we create a junk drawer full of items we will eventually have to sort out. This junk drawer is where addiction likes to hide. The more we can process in the moment, the easier it becomes down the road. Take a second to stop, breathe, and feel, and if the task feels too daunting, you can always reach out to a healthcare professional for help.

Why Crying is Vital to Healing

Now, let’s talk about the big one—crying. Boys are never allowed to cry. For years they were chided, ignored, and even physically harmed for a biological function that everyone has. This natural reaction was embedded in our makeup to warn and release, and once we begin to allow this behavior to exist for all, true healing can begin.

Here are some questions to get you started unpacking your emotional baggage in relation to crying:

  • Were you allowed to cry as a child?
  • What would happen if you did?
  • When was the last time you cried, and what caused you to cry?
  • Why was that experience the last time?
  • Have you ever stopped yourself from crying?
  • If so, why?
  • Do you feel comfortable crying? Why or why not?

These questions can help you understand the reasons you have for not sharing your feelings and or stopping yourself from crying. The goal here is to realize that crying is a natural function of pain and sadness, and the only thing stopping you from doing so in a safe way is fear created by ancient societal standards. You’d be surprised at how much better you’ll feel after letting your pain out in this physical way.

Moving Forward

If we use a substance to mask our pain, we aren’t allowing ourselves the time and space to feel, process and heal. This is why feeling your feelings in recovery is vital to truly making a change in your life. Change is based on acknowledgment, acceptance, and altered behavior. It takes time to fully incorporate new information into our minds and enact new behaviors in daily practice. The same is true of learning to feel. Throughout this process, it’s important to be kind to yourself while you work through what could be generations of repression and emotional baggage. Remind yourself that every time you allow yourself to stop and feel, you begin to heal.

         Repressed emotions and societal standards are causes of addiction, but through rehab programs like the ones offered at the Summer House Detox Center, you can begin to unpack childhood traumas and behaviors that led you to use and drink. In the comforts of Florida, Summer House uses a step-down detox program to ensure you are comfortable and safe while you work through your pain. You don’t have to stay “strong” anymore. Call (800) 719-1090 now to get the help you need and deserve. Or visit our addiction treatment center in Miami located at 13550 Memorial Highway Miami, FL 33161.