Men may not talk about their feelings as much as women do, but they sure know how to use their emotions in constructive ways.
Because they know that emotions are meant to be used — as tools.
And most men are good at using tools to build things and fix things. Like bridges, buildings, houses, and other manly fixtures.
Man’s emotion toolkit
Men know that their emotions exist for a reason. They know that emotions aren’t just for women and children — but for the entire human species.
Because man is an animal, and an animal needs emotions to survive in nature — to know when to avoid danger and when to approach valuable resources.
Each of man’s emotions were selected for by nature to protect his survival and fitness. Man’s emotion toolkit is meant to enhance his survival and success.
Man needs, among many others, these particular tools:
- Fear — to be alerted of danger, know when to retreat, and figure out what he is willing to risk to build a better future
- Anger — to protect his borders and his resources, and to confront adversaries should they threaten him
- Disgust — to know what he’ll tolerate, so that he can live a life of virtue, based on his values
- Surprise — to recognize when something out of the ordinary crosses his path, so that he can explore uncharted territories or know when it’s time to return home
- Sadness — to realize what he has lost, so that he can grieve, and then slowly rebuild again
- Happiness — to learn what he’s done right, so he can continue doing it, and lead a fulfilling life
10 ways to use your emotion toolkit like a man
You can learn how to use your emotions as tools, in functional and constructive ways, by acting more like a man, in the following ways:
1. Take care of your tools
Men don’t leave their tools out to get rusty. They don’t misplace them. They don’t curse them. And they don’t let people who aren’t trustworthy handle them.
So don’t ignore your emotions, mislabel them, try to suppress them, ditch them for “Vulcan logic,” or judge them as being anything less than your valuable tools to succeed in life. And don’t let other people handle them — by telling you how you should feel, or when you shouldn’t.
2. Build with a blueprint
Just as a man needs plans to navigate his future, he needs to map out his emotions to know what he is feeling and why — because remember, emotions act as man’s navigational system to survive in nature.
Are you feeling curious… or uncertain? There’s a subtle difference in how each feel and what each mean, but it makes a big difference if you use the wrong tool, the right tool at the wrong time, or simply the wrong sized tool, to tackle a challenge.
You need the right tool at the right time, meaning you need to know what you are feeling so you can hear it as an important signal about your life. Which means you need to know Robert Plutchik’s blueprint of emotions, outlined in his Psychoevolutionary Theory of Basic Emotions.
It shows eight basic emotions and how they can be amplified and mixed with other emotions to form more complex emotional states. And it’s your ticket to greater emotional literacy.
3. Don’t fix it if it ain’t broke
A man’s tools are good at what they do. But they’re not always necessary.
Sometimes, what you feel is meant to be kept to yourself. And if you try to fix someone else’s problem when they don’t ask, they’re going to resent you for it, even if you’re right and you fixed the problem. (Women will especially resent it.)
The man thing to do is acknowledge your emotions and keep your opinions to yourself — unless you have to speak up to maintain your integrity. The man thing to do is support your loved ones by letting them stuck if that’s what they want, and be their rock if you can do it in a healthy way — they’ll ask you for help when they’re ready to fix their problem.
4. Don’t waste time when you could be using your toolkit
Men don’t like to waste time on unimportant things — that take away from playing out in the yard with the kids, making something lovely in the workshop for the wife, or going out fishing with the guys.
So don’t waste time ruminating about things you can’t change (unless you’ll bounce back to resiliency roundabout), moping around, blaming other people when you can fix your own problems, or getting down on yourself.
Instead, know when to use your toolkit, use it wisely, and use it without delay. In other words, don’t be afraid to feel, especially pain. Because it’s feeling the currents that helps you return to inner-peace and clarity and know how to respond to your life.
5. Kill two birds with one stone
A man knows life is good when he can barbecue on the grill while watching his children play a game of tag football. He’s there to cheer the kids on, and make a mighty tasty supper for the family.
So when you find yourself listening to someone you care about express their own emotions, use the opportunity to be honest as well. Honesty means using the magic formula for expressing hurt feelings when it’s needed, instead of arguing or debating as a way to avoid vulnerability and emotional intimacy.
6. Don’t be intimidated by the bear that’s chasing you
When a man faces danger in the wild, it’s natural for fear to course through his veins. But once he decides to run from the bear that’s chasing him instead of staying to fight, he doesn’t look back or second-guess his decision. He puts everything he has into running from that bear.
When you make a decision based on your heart, don’t ever second guess yourself or let fear of the unknown intimidate you. Following your intuition is a hard thing to do, but once you’ve done it enough, it’s second nature.
7. Go fishing
For a man, fishing with a good book, a cool beer, and a few good friends is the ultimate vacation.
So when your emotions are telling you that life’s getting too stressful and there are too many fires to put out — pack up the fishing rods and head over to the river. When you return home, your toolkit will be ready and waiting for you to start getting to work again.
8. Know when to be a gentleman
Men know when to be tough, and when to be gentle.
To follow that lead, figure out when, where, and how to express your negative emotions in safe and appropriate ways.
So that you can return to the person with whom you’re in conflict with the intention to find a solution, by being assertive without being a menace. That way you’ll meet your conflict head-on, so that you and the other person can resolve it, together.
9. Be brave enough to break down
Men know that even though they have strength, tools, and other resources at their disposal… there are times when nothing can fix a problem. And that they just have to wait it out, look somewhere else for a solution, or learn how to adapt to the situation.
10. Never use tears as tools
Men don’t put their emotions out there for everyone to see, just so that they can elicit sympathy, receive affection, or get their way. They only reveal their true emotions to those they trust, and this helps to protect themselves as well as the boundaries of others.
So know when to cry, when to do it in private, and don’t ever use your emotions to take advantage of others. It’s the mindful, respectful, and honest thing to do.
Men use their emotions for good
Emotions can be your tools, if you are just willing and ready to work with them.
A great way to get started is by following the above ten steps that come easy for a man.
Yeah, women tend to be more sensitive to and expressive of their emotions, but sensitivity and articulation aren’t all that matters. Working with what you’ve got — sensibly, effectively, intelligently, bravely, and constructively — is an important part of the process.
Ready to man up?
So, are you ready to man up? Or have you done so already? Let us know in the comments below!
And if you enjoyed this article, tune in next week, when we’ll look at how you can work with your emotions… like a woman.
This article is dedicated to my dad, who has taught me so much about the emotion toolkit, and who is very good at building many manly fixtures. Dad, I can’t thank you enough for all your support and guidance!