How Men Can Improve Their Emotional Intelligence

If you're like most people, you've never been taught how to express your feelings effectively and maturely.

Traditional Western norms preach keeping feelings to yourself, and if you deviate from this social norm and - *gasp* - express yourself, there's a good chance it will be seen as a weakness due to the programming we've been trained to see emotions in.

For men, it's especially difficult to express yourself because of the pattern we're supposed to follow:

Be strong + emotions are weak = If you show emotions, you are weak.

But what if communicating your emotions clearly and effectively was one of the most powerful tools you have at your disposal in your emotional maturity toolbox? What if being able to express yourself and your feelings in a disciplined way was an advantage?

Here, we explore how to own your feelings and demonstrate your "masculinity" in a deeper way than you ever thought possible.

1. Admit You Have Feelings

How Men Can Improve Their Emotional Intelligence

Sir, you are a human being. You are a living, breathing creature with unique human gifts, which means you are thinking and feeling vessel.

Meaning, things feel okay. It's a normal and special part of being human, so acknowledging that you have feelings as a man is the first step to accessing them.

Suzannah Weiss, a resident sexologist at FrolicMe, an ethical porn site, says many men may be suppressing their feelings because of social stereotypes, not only hiding them from others but repressing them to a point where they are inaccessible to themselves.

"An important step in processing your feelings is giving yourself permission to feel and express them," she says.

Jor-El Caraballo, a licensed therapist and co-founder of Viva Mental Health, believes that many men have become conditioned to ignore or minimize their feelings to fit into narrow gender roles.

"Acknowledging that you are a human being with complex emotions and an inner life is the first step in learning how to recognize the difference between emotions and thoughts," Caraballo says. "Starting to acknowledge your feelings is the key to achieving better psychology. The first act of vulnerability for healthy and healthier relationship dynamics.”

2. Take An Emotional Inventory

How Men Can Improve Their Emotional Intelligence

Once you accept the fact that you are an emotional being, you will be able to legitimately ask yourself how you are feeling at any given moment. Just as you would ask a friend, loved one, or family member how they are doing, you can ask yourself the same question.

Try it and see what happens. Your body can feel things that your brain may not yet understand, so asking yourself how you feel allows you to merge your mind and heart in an open way that provides clarity.

"Asking yourself, 'How am I feeling?' is a useful skill because it allows you to become more in tune with your feelings, which can help you practice better self-care and communicate more effectively in relationships," Caraballo said.

Speaker and author Jeff Perera likes to think about the range of emotions we experience throughout the day, just like the notifications on our phones.

"How do we read or ignore our 'emotional notifications' when we feel something?" Pereira said. “Do we have a habit of self-scanning to understand and address how we are feeling physically and emotionally, do we suppress the emotions that arise for us, or do we shut them down completely when we are numb from overload? We deal with emotions every day How do the patterns of notifications impact our daily interactions and decisions we make? We can work on dealing with our 'emotional notifications' rather than ignoring them or turning them off."

While this process may seem simple, it is difficult for many of us because we have become accustomed to isolating ourselves from our emotions, often as a mechanism to avoid processing unpleasant emotions such as pain, sadness, regret, and anger. I believe you shouldn't feel these feelings.

"In my work as a therapist, I often see men struggle to communicate their feelings to others because they don't have the words to understand what they're feeling," Caraballo says.

Don't panic if you ask yourself "How does it feel?" for the first time. You will feel sad. this is normal. You're feeling sad because you've been unconsciously neglecting yourself, and realizing this can be very, very painful.

But the other side of pain is the most beautiful release - like finally taking a deep breath after being submerged in water - that comes with realizing that you're a man, you have feelings, and that's so cool.

Just like any other habit, the more you check in with yourself, the easier it becomes—and over time, checking in with yourself will start to feel normal.

According to Caraballo, making time for self-reflection, keeping a mood journal, and using the Emotion Wheel can help you clarify your thoughts and increase your emotional vocabulary.

"We can't cure what we don't name," he said. “Self-reflection is a practice that helps us in crease our ability to identify and process our feelings.”

But making time for self-reflection isn’t always easy.

"It's easy for all of us to adjust to our emotions in the busy lives we live," says Weiss, who recommends setting alarms for times of the day when you need to check in with yourself.

"Taking time to consciously tune in to how you're feeling can be helpful, whether that's through journaling, meditation, a body scan—tuning into how your body feels from head to toe—or mirror work—talking to yourself in reality. Mirror. You too You can simply start an internal dialogue in your head about how you’re feeling.”

By better understanding your feelings and using a simple tool to access them, you can move on to the final step in owning your feelings as a man: communicating them effectively.

3. Express Yourself

How Men Can Improve Their Emotional Intelligence

When triggered, it's easy to ignore your newfound understanding of feelings, and many of us revert to horrific early programming in which we unconsciously react to situations and people instead of doing so consciously.

"When you don't express and process your emotions, you're more likely to act on them," Weiss says. "Expressing your emotions doesn't make you more emotional; on the contrary, you become more emotional." Suppressing your emotions makes you more emotional. "

In those challenging moments—when you want to express anger or frustration in anger, or push back sadness and pretend it doesn’t exist—the key is to let those feelings be there first. Acknowledge them and see them, but don't accept them. Notice how you experience these emotions and ask yourself how you feel about them.

By asking yourself how you feel and waiting for the answers within, you'll be better able to communicate those emotions effectively. Nothing says "manliness" more than a man who takes responsibility for himself.

"When we think about developing and improving our emotional literacy, we can think of it as strengthening our 'emotional muscles,'" Pereira said. "We develop emotional muscle memory through repetitive tasks, like practicing a jump shot. We can develop emotional muscle memory so that we act and react with less regret."

Just as our happiness does not depend on anyone but ourselves, our other emotions are not caused by anyone. Instead, we can acknowledge how someone else's words or actions made us feel, and then our responsibility as men and humans is to understand that all we can do is communicate our feelings to others in an honest way.

"As a man, it takes a lot of courage and strength to express yourself effectively," Caraballo said. "While vulnerability is uncomfortable, being able to acknowledge your feelings and work through them requires a healthy self, good self-care strategies, and strong communication skills. These are all part of mental health and resilience."

When you can take charge of yourself and your emotions, ask yourself how you feel, and express those feelings authentically and respectfully, you not only live more authentically, but you also give others the space to be authentic. Excellent qualities are found in the strongest men.

"Men who show emotion are demonstrating strength because they show they can handle pain, which also gives the impression to potential partners or even just friends that you can handle their pain and be their confidant," Weiss says. "Furthermore, emotional expression shows that you are brave enough and courageous enough to challenge gender norms."