I hate those kinds of questions.  Guys don’t usually think on that level very often.  Actually they do–they just don’t like to verbalize their thoughts on the matter.  The reason we/they don’t verbalize is because our thoughts are usually connected to some deep feelings and as a rule, we guys are a little gun shy on the feeling side of things.

Why don’t we verbalize things?  You can talk about conditioning and early child hood development and all kinds of nurture issues but there is a deep piece in the discussion that “guys just don’t talk about their feelings”.   Periodically I’ll be sitting with a guy (most of the pastors I talk with are guys) and we’ll be discussing something that I can see “affects their emotions”.  There are some tell tale clues—their breathing gets shorter or they get red in the face or they seem to get lost for words.  Their feelings (emotions) are flooding them.   And then I have a choice–I can do the guy thing and pretend I don’t notice it’s happening and switch the topic to something safer like (hockey, golf, business, politics etc) or I can do the dangerous thing—I can ask “what are you feeling right now?” or “how do you feel about that?”  Guys don’t like tuning into their feelings, especially if they are “dark” ones.

And the reaction is interesting—either the guy blows it off and says “I am fine” or “I am not feeling anything” or he can melt and collapse into huge emotional spasms.  Rarely does a guy process his feelings gently and coherently.  Some do, but most struggle to do so.

Part of the reason is because we don’t want to be seen as “wimps”.   We like to think we are competent, capable, overcoming men.  Admitting that our feelings are affecting us is hard.    Do I really want to let you know that I am frustrated to the point of blowing a gasket?  I am supposed to solve situations, not get frustrated by them.

Another part of the concern for a guy is that “sharing feelings” rarely results in results.  (Strange way to put it eh?)  But sharing your feelings feels so inconsequential.  We are interested in outcomes and changes and fixes and things being different.  Dumping your feelings often feels like a total waste of time.  Sometimes it is a waste of time.  But it isn’t if it brings wellness or ultimately the change you are looking for.  IF the person listening to you does the hard work of understanding the situation without commentary or judgement, it can actually be quite therapeutic.  It can feel good and in the long haul, feeling better is a step in the right direction.  If the person listening to your feelings can actually do something about your situation even better.  Because who’s to say that down the road, he or she, when faced with a similar set of circumstances might even remember your conversation and actually implement something different because you were courageous enough to share your feelings?

I am a baseball fan.  I am not a fanatic but I enjoy the game. I enjoy major league baseball. One of the pieces of the game I enjoy is the drama of a close play at first base when a runner is declared “out” or “safe”.  The play is not determined by closed camera photo finishings, it’s based on the subjective call of a human umpire.  He calls them as he sees them.  Sometimes he gets it wrong.  Maybe he was slow to get into position, maybe he was distracted by something.  Maybe he has bad eyes!   Anyway, if the manager of the team who loses the call feels like it, he rushes out onto the field to declare his feelings about the missed call at the bag.  Let me tell you, the umpire is not going to change his mind.  But if the manager does his job of declaring his feelings well, chances are when the similar situation occurs two innings later, the umpire will remember the feelings of the manager a moment ago and do a better job making the call.  Don’t tell me that sharing your feelings is ineffectual.