Toxic masculinity has made it almost impossible for men to show their vulnerable and emotional side openly. So, when a man works towards making himself feel connected to his heart, he truly is on the way to change his life.
Brave. Smart. Masculine. Determined. Passionate. There are many words used to describe a man. But ‘emotional’ is not one of them.
Many men think our power is in our brains or our balls.
Our rational brains are supposed to do all the figuring out while our testosterone-filled balls supply the driving force.
Intelligence. Determination. Courage. The sheer force of will. These are the masculine convictions of our brains and our balls. And they’re absolutely valid and essential in their own way.
Using only our brains and balls for too long in isolation from our true power source leaves us dead inside, unable to deeply connect with life.
But when used in isolation from our true power source for too long, they leave us dead inside, unable to deeply connect with life – including our intimate partners.
When I was a US military officer, I was trained to use those masculine brains-n-balls convictions to accomplish whatever the mission, whatever the cost. After 10 years of operating purely on brains and balls alone, I was completely dead inside. I couldn’t really laugh. I couldn’t at all cry. I had an amazing girlfriend I couldn’t really love. I couldn’t feel much of anything.
I didn’t realize then that the military takes to the extreme what modern culture idolizes: the prioritization of rationality over emotion; the worship of intellectual understanding over embodied knowing. The military intentionally disconnects the brains and balls from embodied knowing because that’s our direct connection to the actual, tangible, visceral life we’re immersed in every moment, regardless of what our brains have to say about it.
The military knows that you can’t take life when you feel connected to life.
A man genuinely connected to his heart, who lives each day with his brain and balls in proper service to his heart’s deeper wisdom, is a man that breathes life into the world. He can inspire and lift up the world, even if it’s only one person’s world.
Men, particularly, routinely deny this powerful embodied connection to life that we cannot experience through our thinking brains alone. Yet this power center is what enables us to deeply feel our own lives, to feel the world, and to then create truly extraordinary relationships with other people and lives in which we thrive every day.
Truly, when we live from this innate power source that connects us to life, itself, we can make entire worlds thrive.
This power source isn’t in our brains or our balls.
It’s in the heart.
We, men, tend to think of “heart” as merely something to help us win the close game or appeal to a woman’s romantic side. That’s like thinking the sun is only good for heating bath water.
How does a man connected to heart show up every day, not just when his team is down 5 points with a minute remaining?
What does such a man look like?
5 Signs a Man Is Genuinely Connected to His Heart
1) He’s deeply patient.
With himself. With others. With life.
When we’re connected to heart, we’re able to be patient with and authentically love life, ourselves, and other people, even when they don’t do what we want them to do – which is almost always.
In the military, I was so disconnected from my heart that I hated life. I was imprisoned in my brain. Sex was my only escape. The day I left the base for the last time, I headed for the open road with only a backpack and pent-up rage. Little did I know, I was also heading into the darkest night my soul has ever experienced.
That dark night waxed and waned for 12 years and involved angry women and drugs and heartbreak and financial ruin. I was always impatient for the rest of the world to change so I could finally feel good, and I acted out in countless ways to make it change. By its end, my ego had been gutted so profoundly, as I finally had to accept just how little I am in control of anything or anyone and just how messy life is no matter what I do to keep it clean. With every smash against the rocks I took, every despairing night and furious girlfriend, the heavy armor surrounding my heart cracked and weakened until I gradually discovered an abiding peace and laughter I had never felt in my body before.
“The wound is the place where the Light enters you.” ~ Rumi
When I finally emerged from that dark night, I found myself in a new reality that showed me we are all innocent in our ignorance. We are each doing the best we can, all the time, even when it doesn’t look that way. If we truly knew how to do things better, we’d do it.