Hey guys, I read a lot of books on personal development and as a result of that it’s pretty rare nowadays that I come across a book that contains brand new concepts or ideas that I’ve never heard of before. So what I’m looking for in the books that I read now is more a matter of how they affect me, like how they make me feel.
Because I really believe that if you want to make a lasting change in your life, then you need to deal with emotions and particularly the emotions that we have been avoiding feeling in the past and all that business that’s repressed in our subconscious.
So, yeah, nowadays I look at how books make me feel. Now, with that in mind, one of the emotions that I’ve really struggled with in the past and am still working on is anger. This makes total sense because I grew up in a household where anger wasn’t handled well. The anger around me was expressed in ways that I found traumatic and destructive, and I made a decision at a very early age that anger was just a bad emotion, it was a terrible thing, I wasn’t supposed to feel angry, I wasn’t supposed to let the sun go down on my anger, I wasn’t supposed to be quick to anger, I was meant to be slow to anger.
And as a result of a lot of these messages that I’d heard from outside and also just from my personal experience, I learnt to repress my anger and just push it down so deeply that I most of the time didn’t even feel it any more.
Now, that’s not a good thing because when you repress anger it tends to come out as some other emotion, particularly anxiety, because they’re generated in the same emotional center of the brain, in your amygdala. So as a result, repressing my anger led to a whole bunch of negative consequences for me. For instance, I was bullied a lot because I no longer had my anger to protect me and stand up for myself. I became very afraid of conflict.
So that led to a vicious cycle where I would just repress the anger even further, get bullied more, get hurt more and then end up with a whole bunch of traumatic emotional wounds. So lately I’ve been learning to liberate my anger, and as part of that I went to the library and borrowed a whole bunch of books. And one of the books that resonated most intensely with me is this one; it’s called Angry Men, Passive Men, by Marvin Allen, Understanding the Roots of Men’s Anger and How to Move Beyond It.
And I found when I started reading this book that I was immediately affected by what it had to say. Firstly off, the personal journey of the author really moved me. It resonated a lot. In his case, he had a father who oscillated between passive and violent, and so his father was the dominant force in his life, he writes, and it was quite oppressive, obviously, the experience he had.
I found that reading the personal introduction I found myself crying because I could so resonate with this guy, and he talked a lot about his experience of therapy and why he had so much therapy that just didn’t seem to work. It was like he was talking about what happened but it wasn’t healing him for some reason.
And eventually the reason that he worked out why just talking about what happened wasn’t healing him was that he wasn’t actually experiencing the emotions that he had suppressed as a result of what had happened to him. He was talking about the emotions but he wasn’t actually feeling the emotions, and as a result he wasn’t healing them.
He became a therapist himself and started working with male and female clients. He found that a lot of his male clients he was unable to reach or wasn’t able to help for some reason. He could help the females, but the men, their anger and their rage was so suppressed and repressed that they had trouble getting in touch with it.
Now, this made a whole lot of sense to me because I’ve had a lot of therapy too and a lot of it I was like, “Well, I don’t know if I’m really getting anywhere here.” And it’s only in recent years that I’ve learned how to get in touch with those feelings so that I can really do some serious healing work.
Now, reading section 1, Men and Their Emotions, I was immediately triggered, and by the time I even got to page 3 simply reading the title of the next section, Why Men Can’t Feel and How Boys are Taught to Suppress Their Emotions, when I read that, I felt waves of grief go through me. I started sobbing deeply. My whole body started convulsing. And I just stopped. Like, I took some time to just let that grief out of my system.
I really got in touch with the feelings of grief that I have around the way our society treats little boys and the way it conditions us to suppress everything that we feel, particularly anger, because people don’t want to get upset by our anger so they teach us to suppress it. Our sadness: people are uncomfortable with boys’ sadness. We taught little boys, “Don’t cry, we’re meant to be little men and we’re meant to be stoic.”
And our fear; we’re not meant to reveal our fear to other people because that’s seen as a weakness. So I hadn’t even read the section of the book yet. Like, all I’d read was the title saying How Boys are Taught to Suppress Their Emotions, and immediately, bang, I was really feeling this grief.
So as I said, I stopped reading and I just allowed that grief to liberate from my body. And I believe that by feeling these feelings that we’ve been avoiding and suppressing and going through that grief is basically how we heal so that we don’t need to be so triggered in situations in the future.
I got a lot out of this book, particularly the section on men and their mothers really resonated with me. In my case, it wasn’t so much my father that was destructive. Well, my father was destructive with his anger but it was more sporadic, whereas it was my mother’s anger that was more of a constant critical grind that I found very difficult to deal with.
So there’s a section in here where he talks about different archetypal types of mothers who tend to cause damage to their sons, and the one that immediately leapt out to me was the critical mother, which I’ve been aware for quite a long time now that I have quite a critical mother, and dealing with the impact of that has been pretty intense for me.
But this chapter in this book just took it a level deeper and I’d like to read to you what it was that he said that so resonated with me. He said – and this is towards the end of the section on the critical mother:
But in some cases, the critical mother does not just fail to understand the nature of little boys, she doesn’t like the nature of little boys. This unhappy truth is not lost on her son. Roger, a 37-year old bachelor in one of my groups, told us that both his mother and his two sisters seemed to unite against him simply because he was male. His mother frequently ridiculed him about his dirty room and told him he was a slob, “Just like your father.” She criticized him for not playing with his sisters, but when he tried to join in their games, his sisters told him to go away. His mother and his sisters would openly criticize him and his friends, and talk about what jerks men were. Roger grew up feeling unsafe in his own home, partly because he was male.
Now, that’s an experience that just really resonated with me, right down to the whole two sisters. I had two older sisters, and I certainly got the feeling they didn’t want to play with me when I was a kid and, you know, it hurt just being excluded.
And it’s only in recent years that I’ve realized that part of the core problem in my family of origin is that men are not respected. Men are treated really badly. They’re not looked up to. They’re not considered as having something really valuable to offer in their masculinity because the women in my family don’t like men. They don’t like little boys, and they don’t really like men being men.
So the consequence of that is that the women have to act like men in order to compensate because somebody’s got to man up and everything’s all round backwards. And that leads a little boy to grow up like I did very, very confused and that confusion can manifest as deep-seated anger, and when there’s no outlet to that anger it just bottles up inside and you end up with feelings of low self-esteem, anxiety, panic attacks and all the other business that you can read about in The Confident Man Program where I talk about my personal experience dealing with all this stuff.
So, you know, look, this book is not very new; it’s pretty old. You can still get it on Amazon if you want to click the link below. I found it incredibly resonated with me. It was very, very useful to read this book for me, and I highly recommend it to other guys, particularly if you’re finding that you’ve done therapy and it doesn’t seem to be working and you don’t really know why.
As I said, this guy eventually worked out that what he needed to do was connect with men’s feelings, and the best way to do that was with groups of men where you have other men listen and validate the feelings that these men were having, and the walls came down, everybody learned to express what they were feeling constructively, get into their rage and anger.
He also found in his therapy sessions that it was good to have a pillow and a baseball bat in the middle of the room, and men could get up and smash the pillow when they were feeling angry or let the aggression out. I use a punching bag for that. I’m going to make another video talking about that soon.
I highly recommend that if you’re having struggles with anger and you’re wanting to deal with that, you can get in touch. Post a message on the forum, send me an email and let’s talk about it because this is really important. And, yeah, have a great day. I’ll catch you soon.