To have successful professional and personal lives, you have to get the emotional healing that you need.
Every man that you come across has a deep bed of emotions. Emotions and feelings are not things that should be ignored. In order to get the great and healthy relationships that you desire, you have to change the way that you manage your emotions. David Kundtz has created this perfect guidebook to help you do just that!
Identify your emotions. Emotions are full of diversity, so you’ll learn about all the different ways to spot your emotions and you’ll learn how to better express your feelings. You’ll learn how to become comfortable with your emotions and in turn with the emotions of those around you. Stop the self-sabotage and get the healing that you’ve been seeking.
Men, this book is for you. This book is dedicated to teenage boys, young men, fathers, and grandfathers. This book is so much more than your average book plastered with inspirational quotes or half-hearted advice. The language, tools, and the exercises inside of this book are specified to help you express the deep, vibrant and ever-present emotions that you hold inside of you. Nothing’s Wrong is packed with:
- Ways to identify your emotions
- Motivational and proven tools
- Ways to build your confidence
If you find yourself constantly struggling to express yourself, this book is the inspirational book that you need. It’ll help you build the confidence to speak your feelings to those around you so that you can have effective communication in your everyday conversations.
If you enjoyed books like Cry Like A Man, Master Your Emotions, or Untangling Emotions, then you’ll love Nothing’s Wrong.
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Nothings WrongA Man's Guide to managing his feeling
By David Kundtz
Conari PressCopyright © 2004 David Kundtz
All right reserved.
Chapter OneStrangers No More
Let's begin with two guys: the man on the moon and the man in the moon.
We know who the man on the moon is. He's the astronaut walking on the lunar surface, brought there by logic, nerve, and courage. He's the "thinking guy" of calculations and logic, predictable and exact. He is the man who is very interested in the external things of the world, like space travel and geology (as well as stocks and bonds, planes and boats, baseball and rugby, cell phones and fast cars). He has steely nerves and determination; he's actually walked on the moon and returned to earth to tell about it.
Everyone admires him.
We also know who the man in the moon is-or do we? He's not so easy to know. He's a trickster. He has a vivid imagination and dreams a lot. He's full of surprises. He has a sly grin on his face, and we're not sure just what he's up to. He's the "feeling guy" of deep emotions, soulful humor, and wild zaniness (as well as art and beauty, jokes and parties, tears and smiles, rough games and laughter). He is spontaneous and unpredictable. He's the man who is interested in the deep inner life of possibilities and potential miracles. He's full of life and play and understanding.
Everyone loves him.
Nothing's Wrong is based on the idea that we need to be both these guys: the gutsy, thinking astronaut and the gutsy, fun-loving man in the moon. Because to be one without being the other is to be only half a person, to live only half a life.
There are several ways to talk about this half-life. You could say many men have a well developed thinking part and an underdeveloped feeling part. Or males are more logical and less sensitive; we are more serious, less playful. We are better at being workers than at being friends.
Women might say about us: He never wants to talk very much or I never know what he's really feeling or He can be kind, but he doesn't let you in or I never seem to get to know him.
Many of us males are playing the game of life with half the team missing. And we often wonder what's going on, why things don't work out better for us.
Men, Moon, and Mountain
Here are a couple of stories about these two guys, astronaut-thinking guy and man-in-the-moon-feeling guy.
The first one happened in 1972-on the moon. Did you ever see the video of Apollo 16 astronaut John Young as he jumped up and down and waved his arms wildly during his walk on the moon? His behavior had nothing to do with the scientific purpose of the expedition. He was just having fun. He looked like an excited kid on a trampoline. The guys at Mission Control in Houston were probably not impressed. What the hell is Young doing? He's not supposed to do that? His kids watching on TV probably got a hoot out of it. Wow? Look at Dad!
In those few seconds, Young became a great example of both parts of male life: thinking (technical/logical) and feeling (artistic/spontaneous). He was, in that happy moment, the man on the moon and the man in the moon.
Here's another story. It also takes place up in the air, on the top of Mount Everest, the highest mountain in the world, located in the rugged and remote northern highlands of Tibet. In 1953 Edmund Hillary, an explorer from New Zealand who was leading a British expedition, successfully scaled Mount Everest. He was the first human being to achieve this incredible feat.
When Hillary completed his historic act of reaching the summit, exhausted but happy, the first thing he did was thrust the British flag deep into the snow to proclaim that he had conquered the mountain.
But he wasn't the only one there. His companion and guide, Tenzing Norgay, had also made the historic climb. Norgay was a Sherpa, one of the legendary mountain guides from northern Tibet. He was raised in a simple rural family, with a very different background from Edmund Hillary.
As you might expect, Tenzing Norgay expressed himself in a different way. Upon arriving at the summit of the great mountain, he knelt down in the snow and prayed to the gods of the mountain, asking their forgiveness for disturbing their peace.
One man proclaimed his conquering achievement. The other prayed to the gods for pardon. The point I want to make is this: We need both. Because we are both. One is not right while the other is wrong. One is not weird and the other normal. No. They are both healthy expressions of the male life.
In this instance, you could say that Hillary expressed the thinking part and Norgay expressed the feeling part. But we know from their lives and writings that Norgay understood and applauded Hillary's flag-thrust, while Hillary respected and affirmed Norgay's prayer.
The one needs the other. Even more, in order to live a complete life, each needs to become the other. I want to make clear from the beginning that I do not label one as good and the other as bad. That is the last thing I want to do. Both of these male aspects are good, and we must welcome both of them into our lives.
One's happiness depends less on what he knows than on what he feels.
-Liberty Hyde Bailey (1858-1954), BOTANIST AND HORTICULTURIST
As males, our biggest problem is that on the subject of emotions, our culture is deeply biased. There are reasons why most boys and men, probably including you, have been "emotionally miseducated," a term I've borrowed from Michael Thompson and Dan Kindlon's book Raising Cain. What they mean is that the combined forces of society steer a young male "away from his inner world." This has an effect, they say, "even on the youngest boy, who learns quickly ... that he must hide his feelings and silence his fears." We carry that attitude, alive and well, into our adult lives.
I believe this is true for all men: young and old, highly educated and less educated, raised in well-to-do families or in poor families, extroverts and introverts, straight and gay, urban businessmen and country ranchers, steel workers and family therapists, managers and employees, basketball players and poets-all of us.
While society tolerates some of what it sees as "male emotions," like anger and aggression, it is generally uncomfortable with the free expression of all feelings by boys and men, and strongly resists teaching and promoting them. So our culture tries actively to steer you in the wrong direction. That's something to take note of. As a result, of course, most men are good at thinking and not so good at feeling.
But that's not all. There is also a physical basis for the way we are with our feelings. It's the way our brains are "wired" I'll refer to a few of these characteristics later.
Putting Words on Feelings
Given the culture in which we've been raised, it's no wonder that many of us are challenged by the feeling part of life. We often can't seem to recognize and talk about the feelings we are having at any given moment.
What we do instead is run away or cover up. As soon as we feel something, or someone else in our presence is feeling something-especially if it's a strong feeling like fear or attraction-we run from it before it has a chance to let us know it's there, much less get expressed. Running means changing the subject, distracting yourself with some other activity, or moving on to something new.
Or we cover it. With TV, music, sports, humor, sex, laughter. Anything that covers over and hides the feelings that are there.
So when someone asks us what we're feeling, we can often truthfully say, "Oh, nothing." We're not lying, because we run so quickly from the feeling or cover it so well that we literally don't know it is there.
Here are stories that two men, Jim and Derek, tell about themselves when they were boys. I want to start there because that's when it starts.
* Jim's Story *
Jim is forty-two, a civil engineer, husband, and father of two: "When I was a junior in high school I was fairly popular. In fact, everyone was expecting me to be elected homecoming king. But when the votes were in, I lost. I was fourth out of five. Everyone was surprised, including me. But what I said was 'Oh, it's OK, I didn't really expect to get it. It's no problem. It's nothing.' These were my typical responses to my parents, teachers, and friends.
"But what I was really feeling was painful embarrassment and shame. In fact, I can still feel it now as I talk about it, after all these years! Now, of course, I know what I was feeling, but for too long I just didn't allow most of my feelings to come out."
Any normal human being would have those feelings. But Jim ran from them. Changed the topic. Got involved in something else. Denied any negative feelings. Probably put on his headphones and blasted the music. "This was exactly the occasion," he adds, "when I started a pattern of nonfeeling."
There's a name for the condition I'm talking about: Alexithymia. It's from Greek words meaning "no words for feelings." A few of us guys have it really bad; most of us have at least a fight case of it.
The bad news is that it does a lot of damage to us. The good news is that, in the vast majority of cases, it's fixable.
* Derek's Story: "I Won't Tell You" *
For most of us, these patterns began when we were boys. The story of Derek, now forty-four, begins during the end of his senior year in high school. This was a kid who had been in trouble forever. He was a middle child in a large and gregarious family. At this late date in the school year, it was doubtful if he would make the grades to graduate.
Then he got caught by the vice principal smoking pot in the school parking lot. That was the point at which Derek literally shut up. He wouldn't talk to anyone-family, friends, school counselor, pastor, teachers, or police-no one. He'd just look at the ground and shake his head.
His story slowly moves forward with very little life. He had to do community service for using a controlled substance. He did not graduate from high school. He got an unchallenging job and just sort of existed. Only now, in midlife, is he coming to his full emotional life.
By tiding Derek's story "I won't tell you" I make an assumption that he could have told us if he wanted. While I think that's true, I don't really know. That's the frustrating thing about Derek and so many like him. We just don't know what's going on in their inner life. They won't or can't tell us. He had no words for his feelings, which remained locked up deep inside him.
* Steve's Story: "I Can't Tell You" *
Here's a story of a man who is very good at the thinking side. He is a member of Mensa-only very high IQs invited. His name is Steve. He and his wife, Amy, are in their late thirties, with two young kids, their own home, and successful working lives. They have come to see me, a family therapist, because their marriage is troubled.
During our fifth or sixth session, without warning, Amy says she believes their marriage cannot survive and she wants a divorce. Bam! just like that.
To this sobering announcement Steve reacts with a sad, vacant stare into space. It lasts a long fifteen seconds; no one says a word. I am as surprised as he is. Then, without saying anything, he calmly stands up, picks up his coat and briefcase, and walks out of my office.
Jump ahead two weeks.
After several attempts, I convince Steve to come in on his own "to talk about it?' When he comes to my office, I can feel him bristle. He doesn't want to be here. We start talking; or rather, I start talking. From him I get nothing but grunts, noises, or shakes of the head. Clearly he is in pain. A couple times he glances at me, silently begging me to end the torture and let him go. He just can't say much of anything.
After one particularly long period of silence, I notice I am really getting annoyed and think to myself, This must be what his wife feels. Then I ask, "Well, Steve, what about just telling me, briefly, what you are feeling right now, knowing that your wife intends to divorce you?"
His response begins slowly, then quickly builds force as his eyes snap wide to attention, rise up and rivet me. His face becomes flushed, his body rigid, his fists clenched, and his look enraged.
Then he bolts from his seat, storms across the room, turns back toward me-now fevered and furious-raises his arms high (to attack? to entreat?) and literally screams, "You sound just like my wife! Don't you see?" And then even louder and more anguished, "I don't know what I'm feeling!"
When my heart returns to its normal beat and I take a deep breath or two-he is now slumped in his chair, spent and embarrassed-I say in a quiet voice, "Oh."
After a moment I said it again, "Oh." I could only hope the simple word expressed what I wanted him to know: that I heard him, not just his words-I'm sure half the building heard those-but him.
More importantly, I wanted him to know that I actually believed him: he did not know what he was feeling about his marriage, his possible divorce, and even about his wife.
Steve simply did not know his emotional state, and thus could not put it into words. He knew he was in pain, but beyond that, he simply didn't know. It wasn't that he didn't want to know. In fact he did want to know. It wasn't that he really knew but just wouldn't tell me. No, he really didn't know. He truly had no words for his feelings.
Steve was a man in his late thirties when this happened. He was so used to not knowing his feelings that he didn't know that he didn't know.
It's Not Too Late
In this situation-not being able to put into words the emotions you are experiencing-many men find we are misjudged as stuck-up or stubborn or even stupid. Sometimes we even judge ourselves with those words. But in the vast majority of situations this is not true. Almost always what we are going through are the effects of our lack of training in the ways of dealing with feelings.
Many times, when the feelings finally do come out, they come out in an explosion, like Steve's did. And often they get us into trouble. At best we're accused of overreacting; at worst we're seen as fearsome or violent. It's a no-win situation.
There's a point I want to make with the stories of Jim, Derek and Steve: If you begin now to find ways to attach words-or some other healthy means of expression-to your feelings, you can avoid the sad situations that the three of them got into. This is indeed what you are doing by reading this book. It's never too late!
Today Steve continues his slow but sure journey to emotional fitness.
Excerpted from Nothings Wrong by David Kundtz Copyright © 2004 by David Kundtz. Excerpted by permission.
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