Man Under Stress – Weakness We Fear

Generally speaking, Man’s greatest fear is to have his insecurities made public. As it is, from womb to grave, Man’s greatest weakness is his dependence on Woman, the one he has always labelled ‘weak’. So, no wonder Man prefers to keep that insecurity on the quiet.

Loss is personal: Man’s principal cause of stress and anxiety is that he perceives any sustained loss as a personal weakness exposed for all to see. Even a loss in a card game or the loss of his favourite athlete or sports team may cause him to erupt violently in a bid to counteract the disturbing emotion that, by quirky osmosis, makes him appear ‘less than’ – if only in his mind. So, let us not even mention the fear of ‘losing’ an erect penis, should he, one day, suffer from erectile dysfunction!

Walled-in: Man’s reflex is to do his best to camouflage all his weaknesses. As he perceives most of them as unmanly, he cannot bear the thought of himself reflected in Woman-his Mirror. After all, he reasons, I am a man. I hide behind a façade, one behind which no one will find the ‘weak’ me.

When in doubt:

Because neither Man nor Woman naturally intuit how to ‘do life’ with their authentic core energies, condoned by cultural habits or by silence, the balance between them is lost and the fear of being ‘outed’ keeps Man constantly on the defensive.

That fear pulls him away from heart-emotion while he relies on a strong voice, verbal aggression, physical strength and posturing in a bid to skew any of his desired outcomes his way.                                                                            

‘Real men don’t cry,’ they say: Senior Australian Federal Police officer, Commander Grant Edwards, one the physically strongest men in the country perhaps, even, in the world, broke his silence to share the pain and vulnerability he felt like a man under stress.

He said, ‘You didn’t talk about your weaknesses, you didn’t talk about your vulnerabilities, because that was a sign you weren’t doing your job, you weren’t strong enough or cut out to be a police officer’.

Or a good soldier, a good husband, a good worker – or a good … whatever. In such a state, Man may well have the capacity to turn up at work, at the gym or a party, but he struggles to with anything emotionally meaningful.

Words hurt: Once heart-emotions are internalised as signs of weakness, from boyhood to manhood, Man does his best to repress his tears. After all, no one wants to be told, ‘Get a grip! Don’t sob like a baby! Don’t be a pussy!’ In fact, one could ponder why the admonishment to Man Up trended a few years ago while there was an already long list of belittling utterances to throw at boys and men of all ages.

Jesus wept:

So, when pulling himself away from a dark corner of his car, home or garden, Man allows himself some tears, he does so in the middle of woodlands or a place of worship. There, in synagogues, churches and temples, he knows it is permissible and legitimate, even encouraged, for a grown man to shed tears – to sob, even.

He has been taught that his God, his Father in Heaven, Jesus, Mary – the Mother of all souls – along with a bevvy of goddesses and saintly mother-figures accept tears as a positive, humbling experience – an expression of Man’s religious fervour.

Momentarily released from his impenetrable but cracked defensive wall Man in prayer-mode returns to his child-self, in a state of surrender and innocence from which, it is said, earnest pleas have a greater chance of being actualised.

Man also gauges the depth of his weakness by comparing himself to Woman- the Mother. Again he finds himself lacking. Strong enough to endure the discomfort and sacrifices demanded by her pregnancy, Woman is also robust enough to endure the pain of childbirth which, in Orthodox religious enclaves and some sects, tends to repeat ten times in succession, as a recurring offering to God.

Woman is also resilient. Though some say she is quick to cry and wail, should one or more of her children die, for example, as victims of war or terrorist action, after plunging into utter despair, the traditional Woman-Mother stands up again and resumes her duty of care to her surviving children and husband. She knows that without her at the helm of their family unit, they will flounder.

It’s about emotional strength: Though she may be broken, Woman-Mother embraces the love she will always feel for her deceased child, regardless of their age. She grasps her memories tightly while Man often dissolves, involving himself in a range of at-risk and addictive behaviours that often adds more grief for the family.

Perhaps making matters worse for Man’s ego, women also work, as they have always done, in the fields, in shops and now, more often, in offices. Wherever she might work, Woman is inevitably caught in a hurly-burly of work responsibilities equal to Man’s. Of course, millions of situations have played out somewhat differently.

As per our limited brain-based perception, karma-based outcomes intended to force us into the emotional pain that yields to personal growth tend to appear as random bad luck. Compounding our blinkered understanding, many cultural and social mores in our ‘safe’ democracies have progressively made us, Man and Woman alike, more dependant on all manner of emotional crutches than on our inherent core resilience.

Thus, of course, many women/mothers, too, find themselves unable to uplevel their emotional game under stress.

You are the sun – I am the cloud: The point to keep in mind is this: Karma, Fate, Nature or the Source or God or the Unknowable Essence, depending on one’s belief system, throws at us tailor-made tests, trials and tribulations that It knows we have the means to pass with brio.

The intention of this higher power is always to push us, more or less gently, roughly or violently into situations that hold the opportunity to upgrade our selves from the inside-out.

Therefore, the Higher Power has an unshakable expectation of each one of us suddenly dropped into a choreography we neither understand nor accept as our opportunity to shine.

To paraphrase Shaykh Al-Akbar, the great Sufi master, it is true that we are the cloud over our own sunshine.

Love to love me: Be that as it may, whether we front up to the challenge to the best of our authentic ability – or not – is always entirely up to us. That is, provided we have enough control over the childlike nature of our ego-persona to exercise true free will.

Still, another facet of the male psyche worth exploring is Man’s dichotomous reaction to his biological mother.

As long as his mother behaves independently, Man adores her as the young child he once was. However, should she become needy, more demanding of his love [time and attention] than he is willing to grant her, Man no longer feels any joy being his mother’s boy.

One will do as well as the other: When his emotions whisper to his ear that ‘Mom’, no longer as obliging as Cortina or Siri, has become repressive, conflict brews and often spills over rather messily. His mother’s neediness mirrors the demands Man used to make as a child, just as much as it reflects the current, hurtful but silent demands he places on the women closest to him, most often his partner/wife, the intended mother substitute par excellence. And also on female ‘attendants’ and colleagues.

Give it to her, and it will get done: Man abhors the reflection projected back at him by the Mother, the Mirror.

That might go some way in explaining why hospital doctors so often appear detached while conducting their daily tours of wards, relying on data read off their portable screens instead of engaging directly with the patient and, as they move on, calling out orders to the accompanying nurses – mostly always women.

Equally, one cannot ignore how the upper echelons of management and financing of most caregiving centres, from pre-schools to hospices, lie in the hands of men. Profit is the end-game. The means is the sum of daily, often thankless, hands-on caregiving services entrusted mainly to the care of nurses, carers and social workers – generally women

In previous generations when families lived together, then, too, it was mostly the women, sisters, daughters, aunts and cousins who cared for the parents and grandparents on both sides. These days, rare are the sons and daughters who are willing to find the time to be hands-on, to create a physical space and tap into the necessary heart-emotions to care for their elderly parents – and, more importantly, to care for them with love.

In this void of active compassion, Man and Woman are equal.

Active compassion: The industry of independent retirement living and nursing homes for the aged is booming worldwide – even in China, once reputed for having several generations under one roof.

There, a new law was passed in 2013, requiring all adults to provide mental and financial support to their elderly parents. Should they fail to honour this responsibility, they face fines and other punishments.

Here, in Australia, a bill was passed in 2011 to better serve and advance the rights of the elderly by protecting them from abuses and exploitation perpetrated by members of their family, usually their children, sometimes a carer or others whose karmic role it is to make their lives safe and comfortable.

Worldwide, while some older people feel they should end their lives to spare their family the ‘burden’ of looking after them others are routinely and subtlety coerced to take their life for the same reason.

Then, yes, in some families, a new opportunity to perform a positive karmic amendment has come to roost … exactly where and when it was needed.

Man’s emotional weakness is particularly evident in his need to constantly be with other men in staff rooms, in stadiums, in political gatherings, in pubs and clubs; to be a member of a particular clan, gang, group or political party.

This yearning highlights Man’s fear of loneliness as much as his strong need for the sorts of crutches he finds in his chosen male leaders, if only for a moment.

Man reveres masculine strength because of the weakness of his own character. Cognitive empathy, simply trying to understand how the other person feels, to give them the love they need gets transmuted to the activities in the physical realm.

Thus, Man always respects a strong leader, a financially successful man, a winner in sport, a rebel with attitude, a policeman with street cred, a charismatic sect or cell leader with ‘balls’ to fill his void.

In weakness, we fear: Some of these enablers espouse isolationist, protectionist, anti-Semitic ideas.  Others pass on evangelical theories to generate a sense of togetherness while others enable Man of all ages to live outside the law and participate in illegal behaviours. Some promise unconditional support, promising to become ‘family’.

Others simply provide an opportunity to appear hip, sullen and detached.

All types have been amply glorified by the media and the entertainment industry, but psychopathic traits such as cunning and manipulative, unable to feel remorse, unwilling to accept responsibility for actions, indulgent, parasitic lifestyle emerge when boys and men of all ages suffer an emotional disconnect.

© 2016 Carole Claude Saint-Clair

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