even cowboys cry

Why is it that it is so difficult to be vulnerable? Why do we hold back and hide our own vulnerability?

These questions apply to everyone, but especially us males. Vulnerability is in most cases seen as a weakness. Seen as us being not worthy enough, not good enough, not strong enough, not man enough.

The result when we try hide our vulnerability is that it leads to conflict. It starts with inner conflict, especially emotionally and mentally. That inner conflict leads to stress and a lot unpleasant and unwanted feelings.

When that happens our inner voice kicks into over drive.

Why do I feel this way? What is wrong with me? Am I soft? Am I a wimp? Am I pathetic?

Where does that come from?

Well for me growing up in South Africa, I was surrounded by male macho and bravado. One’s goal in life was to be a man’s man. A tough guy that played rugby and took life by the scruff of the neck. You were a male. You loved sport, you took care of your family, you barbecued and ate red meat as often as possible, you enjoyed a good drink and you didn’t take sh*t…from anybody.

Now I know that is a generalization, but for me, that was my truth and the truth for many people around me.

My Dad was one of my early heroes. He was tough. He was a great guy who loved his family of eight kids and his wife. We had a lot of fun as a family, but he did like to booze and barbecue. If you looked at him the wrong way, he was going to stop his car, get out and confront you. Not because he was bad tempered, but that was the rules by which he grew up and lived life by.

My two older brothers were similar to him. They were both my heroes when growing up. They were real men to me. They surfed, they partied, they had beautiful partners, they had mustaches, but guess what…they didn’t take sh*t…from anybody!

I wanted to be like them and my Dad.

But I couldn’t. I remember so badly wanting to be tough, but I couldn’t fight like the other boys and I wasn’t very strong. I wanted so badly to have a mustache and not take sh*t…from anybody. But I just didn’t have the heart. But I was young and thought I would grow into that.

When my father passed away I was eleven years old and that took away my first hero. I cried most days for about two years. Sometimes in public, but most of the time in silence, by myself. But I still had my heroes, even though my oldest brother had moved away from us. They were both still in my mind.

My other brother took me under his wing. He was strong, a fighter, a lover of life and was always happy. I wanted to be big and strong like him and have the cars he drove. Even though I had all the love in the world I needed, I was still vulnerable, but a twelve-year-old boy cannot always express that. He wipes his tears, dab’s his bloody lip and carries on with life, looking for the next adventure.

But as we get older and we’re waiting to grow up into a tougher and more invincible person, we start to realize that it might not happen at all.

Yes, we think we’re invincible when we’re in our teens and early twenties. Then as we progress through life and get into relationships, become more serious with our work and have kids or sometimes we don’t do any of those things…we start to realize that all is not always well.

We become vulnerable.

So we start clinging. We start clinging to our job, to false things that will hopefully give us security. This is where the inner turmoil and conflict begins. It causes strife. It causes destructive behavior and our relationships start to deteriorate, we start experiencing DIS-ease within which leads to illness, depression and anxiety. We start practicing destructive behavior like drugs, alcohol, gambling, sex addictions etc.

Why?

Because we are vulnerable and we don’t know how to express it. You see our frame of reference is the heroes in our life, the people who surrounded us, the environment we grew up in.

Aren’t we meant to be bullet proof like them (that is just an illusion by the way).

Especially when we start getting to a stage in our life and our relationships aren’t all perfect, we’re not earning the money we want to, or don’t pursue the careers we wanted to, we don’t know how to deal with it.

We don’t know how to express these worries and self-doubts to others. We try not show our vulnerabilities to ourselves. Because if we do it is weakness.

Look no one wants to go onto Facebook and say “Hey friends…I feel like my life is a mess, I feel like I am a loser and I am a middle aged man and I suffer from anxiety…someone please help me”

Why are we scared?

Because of our beliefs. Because of our conditioning and our life experiences. Our beliefs are the lenses through which we see life.

There’s that conflict between the way we are now and what we think we should be…

I know it took me years before I could stand up and share my story of struggles without feeling like a loser “compared” to my friends and peers. But when you realize that it is OK to be vulnerable, it’s OK to experience life in all its forms…both the good times and bad times, then you start to feel liberated. You feel free and you realize that all will be well.

So here’s a few tips that will allow you to break free from the shackles of old, limited conditioning and simply acknowledge your own vulnerability.

Cowboys do cry – One of the most common statements I heard growing up was “Cowboys don’t cry”.  Sometimes as a child you fell, hurt yourself or something unpleasant happened, this was a typical response.

So here’s the truth. Cowboys DO cry. Not putting your hand up and saying…”Hey, I am not OK here and I need some love, help and guidance” doesn’t make you less of a “man” or person than anybody else.

In fact, it just leaves you with more bottled up conflict, confusion and turmoil that will rear it’s ugly head later on in life.

Don’t suck it up…let it out – This is another limited belief that you hear all too often, especially on the sports field. If you express yourself, you’re weak, not good enough and not committed enough. So suck it up…is what they tell us!

Life does get tough and at times it get’s extremely tough, but there is no need to suck it up at all. Express yourself.  Allow yourself to ask for help, to get guidance and open yourself up to communities and people who will love and support you.

We’re not invincible – No matter who you are, or how tough you are…you are not invincible. There is no need to go around pretending that you are. There is no need to try and take on life and everything by yourself.

It’s ok to let your friends and loved ones know you feel vulnerable and need help. If they don’t support you, then find people who will. Find yourself a support system that will help you along with your troubles and challenges.

All will be well – Trust is a huge part of living a life free on stress and conflict. Too often we don’t trust the process of life and try to control everything.

All will work out well and for your own good.

Ask for help, ask for guidance, love and support. But at the same time, trust that the challenges you face are there to enable you to become a greater version of yourself.

Everything will work out right and all will be well.

Where does that belief come from? – The next time you have a thought that is causing you inner conflict or you are comparing yourself to others, then ask yourself…”Where does that belief come from?”

Where does the belief system come from that you should date this type of person, or have that type of job? Where does the belief system come from that says you should behave a certain way or others should dress a certain way, or act or speak a certain way?

Where does that story come from that you keep telling yourself over and over?

What you will find is that these stories or beliefs we keep telling ourselves actually come from other people. They are THEIR beliefs that they have passed onto you. They are not serving you well and you don’t need them anymore.

Create new empowering and loving belief systems.

Set yourself free – You are not your mind or the limited stories you keep telling yourself. Lovingly release those negative stories and set yourself free.

Start to acknowledge your own divinity and realize that:

YOU are the universe in ecstatic motion. @kennethtodd (Click to Tweet!)

Yes YOU!

Peace and Love,

Kenneth

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