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Marines Breaking Taboos: Embracing Emotions in Crisis

Updated: Sep 8, 2023

Embracing Emotions in Crisis
Embracing Emotions in Crisis

Flying aboard a C-131 with other Marines, we were about to crash land in Anchorage, Alaska. I never saw Marines cry; I was shocked. I was also angry; I was too young to die. As we hit the tarmac with a tremendous thud screeching and skidding, the side doors were opened, and I was covered in fire-retardant-foam and debris. Finally, the plane stopped. Marines were expressing their emotions: tears, anger, relief, happiness, joy, and shaking hands. Men worry about their masculinity. Male taboo is, “Men don’t cry.” Men who touch other men make some guys nervous. If men are blocked by pride or ego, they do not disclose their despair. Well, not on this day.

Showing compassion, tenderness, sensitivity, and being emotionally expressive doesn’t make a guy feminine; it makes him healthy. The guys who suffer the most are “rocks,” the macho guys who firmly maintain the most narrowly defined and traditional ideas about masculinity. My fellow Marines although shaken up by the crash, were supportive, consoled the injured, and were emotionally attentive to each other. I was semi-conscious. When two smiling Marines lifted me, I was dazed and in disbelief as to what had transpired. “Come on, Devil Dog. You’re alive,” a Lance Corporal spoke softly, holding me tight, as I wobbled between them.

The male role requires a man to appear tough, objective, striving, achieving, unsentimental, and emotionally unexpressive. A man regards himself inferior to other men when he is tender or if he weeps. If a man is expressive, he is considered to be unmanly. When a man hides himself because it is not manly to be psychologically vulnerable, this results in unmet needs and he will be difficult to love. Our inner emotions find ways to be expressed. Yet, some guys just live their lives, not aware of any conflicts. As long as their lives are working, they’re happy.

As a father, children are looking to daddy to share his feelings, open up, and be vulnerable. The children’s mother is waiting for the same behavior. But, if a macho guy does not know how to reveal his inner emotions, he’s conflicted. Psychological vulnerability equals intimacy. Men who lack profound insight or clear contact with their real selves will be failures at self-loving since they do not know what they feel and need.

To make the best of a relationship, be the best you can be. Give your mate "warm fuzziness" (genuine warmth and caring with positive regard and concern), not "cold prickles" (emotionally distant, cold, unresponsive, self-centered, or an uncaring response). Each person needs emotional fulfillment. Love requires action. Regardless of color or age, we all need about the same amount of love. Quality of life is about progress, not perfection.

Men’s behavior is based on the perceived expectations of other males. Fearing rejection, men hide much of their real selves while avoiding vulnerability, transparency, or fear of labeling. Some men hide their spontaneous inner experiences and don’t want anyone to enter their emotional world. Masculine vulnerability is when a man talks about his vision or his lack of vision. His most vulnerable place has to do with his direction in life or lack of it.

When men don’t cry, those emotions switch to anger. Anger hides a lot of emotions and prevents the expression of other feelings. Underneath anger is pain, under pain is frustration, under frustration is hurt and grief. Resentments do not punish the other person; they punish the individual. They become barriers to feeling good and enjoying life. If men can go beyond their fears, doubts, uncertainty, anger, and resentments, men can continue to grow emotionally and spiritually. Yet, men struggle to find their ultimate purpose and direction in life. As I was taught, Marines don’t get lost, they get disoriented. They’ll eventually find their way. Most men will do, too.

Men don’t always want advice – they want understanding. If you were not afraid, what would you do? Are you willing to change? What do you want to change? What is your dream? In your dream lies your direction. What kind of life do you want? How do you want your life to be? What is your ideal life? What is your biggest fear? What type of person do you want to be? There is no greater deception than self-deception. Make one choice. Complete it. Then, make another choice.

Here's a piece of inside information from a guy’s perspective. For most guys, the most troublesome bathroom decoration is the fuzzy cover that causes the toilet lid to fall. The most common object a guy drops in the toilet when going to the bathroom: keys. Unfortunately, the number of men who forget to put the toilet seat down: 1 in 7. Grrrr. Instant Insights on Kindle has a lot of tips on men in relationships.

INSTANT INSIGHT: Walk straight “fear-ward.” About the Author:

Hilary Valdez is a freelance Writer living in Tokyo, Japan. He is an experienced Mental Health professional and Resiliency Trainer. Valdez is a former Marine and has worked with the military most of his career and most recently worked at Camp Zama as a Master Resiliency Trainer. Valdez now has a private practice and publishes books on social and psychological issues. His books are available on Amazon and for Kindle.

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