Mr Fix It
By Mark Bradman
Nowhere are men and women arguably more mismatched than men being brought up to fix everything, whereas women are brought up to talk about how they feel.
In 2002, I suddenly realised that the only way I could possibly improve my relationships with women (and with men, too) was to improve myself. Hell, most of the time I couldn’t even change myself, what I might refer to as my ‘Autopilot Behaviour’. What possible chance did I have of changing anyone else? Surprise, surprise, I learnt some things about myself!
The most important thing I realised was that I was totally incompetent around any sort of feelings. Being anywhere near them was like visiting a foreign country with its own incomprehensible language – I hear the words, some are vaguely familiar, but together they just sound like gibberish.
This shouldn’t have come as such a surprise given that we men are taught ’not to go there’. Of course, it didn’t come naturally to me at first, but my father helped me along the way not to be a ‘sissy’ by paying me money for every day I didn’t cry.
Another amazing thing I realised was that feelings were something that couldn’t be fixed. So, when my wife and I separated and she took our daughters back to Australia, there wasn’t anything that anyone could do to ‘fix’ me.
And thirdly, I realised that while I was shut down to my own feelings, I couldn’t be around anybody else’s. How could I be? Other people’s pain merely reminded me of my own that I had so valiantly tried to hide – “There, there. Cheer Up!”
So if we can’t destroy or hide our feelings, and we can’t fix them, what can we do about them? This is something we help men with on the Men Being Real workshop – to expand our Emotional Competency.
It’s not about making men more like women. It’s been about improving ourselves so that we can be as competent emotionally as we are physically. Like an All Black working on all facets of his ‘game’.
If you’re a man, perhaps this is the right time for you to join other men on a journey to learn how to better handle our feelings? or If you’re a woman, perhaps you can pass this article onto a man who might be ready for, or in need of this?
Mark Bradman is a member of the Essentially Men Education Trust Network and previously worked for the Trust as the Programme and Marketing Coordinator