Oct. 22, 2022

The Impact Of Emotional Vulnerability | Trauma Healing Podcast

In this episode, I talk about the impact of emotional vulnerability and why as men we need to start showing up for ourselves. Far too often MEN are viewed as robotic and unemotional beer-drinking, car driving, emotional recluses but, the truth is we have the ability to step into our power and level up as men and emotional human beings. So, I challenge you...MEN, are you ready to show up for the real game?
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In this episode, I talk about the impact of emotional vulnerability and why as men we need to start showing up for ourselves. Far too often MEN are viewed as robotic and unemotional beer-drinking, car driving, emotional recluses but, the truth is we have the ability to step into our power and level up as men and emotional human beings. So, I challenge you...MEN, are you ready to show up for the real game?

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Today I woke up and put my feet on the ground and I picked up my phone and I looked at it and it said, the next vice president candidate for United States of America, Kamala Harris. And I thought to myself, wow, that's incredible. One, because it's a female vice president. And two, because she is a person of color and as a person of color, I think that it's something that I want to talk about because it impacts me, just like when Obama was elected and voted into presidency as a black man, I felt empowered in a sense and as you may know, I'm not black, I'm biracial, but that does not change the fact that we are on this precipice of change.

You look at it happening all over the country right now, and even the world, the Civil Rights Movement for Black Lives Matter is bigger than anything I can ever remember happening in my lifetime. And you notice the changes happening in politics around the country, and you see a lot of really amazing things happening in regard to people of color being put in not only positions of power, but finally like getting a say. And I think you can agree with me that this is far overdue.

And as I continue to move forward in my life and think about the person that I want to be as a leader, as a person of color, and as a man in America, it's very much so something that comes to the forefront of my thought process every day, and what does it mean to be a leader and what does it mean to be a person of color, especially when we're often looked at under a microscope and every little thing we say or do is not only criticize, but potentially can ruin our careers, and especially amongst cancel culture and things of that nature.

But today, I feel this really wonderful sense of not only pride but this idea that this shift is happening, and that's impactful to me because I've spent the majority of my life always thinking color first, and that's because I've been inundated in the society in which I currently exist. You know, I've been pulled over while driving a nice car, while being a person of color and been unlawfully handcuffed as a teenager for just being in the wrong place at the wrong time, or even not being in any place at all, other than just walking down my street. And I faced the repercussion of other people's opinions based on my skin tone, time, and again. And so, it's really beautiful to see what is starting to take shape and change in this country and as that continues to happen, I just hope that we take a step back and recognize that in order for us to create change, we have to acknowledge the past, and so often people want to shove it down and pretend things didn't happen and go, oh, America's not that bad but realistically, it's also not that great, but we have the opportunity to make it a better country. We have an opportunity to have a dialogue and a discourse and create change and be leaders in our communities and do the thing that our forefathers and mothers were too afraid to do. And that's to have open dialogue about the reality of the world that we live in.

Look, realistically, as someone who grew up in poverty and in multiple different types of scenarios and seeing both the good and the bad of all races, I have a full understanding of what it's like to be a citizen of America and the world and what I can tell you is that there are unbelievably good people in this country of all colors, and there are unbelievably bad people in this country of all colors. And the truth about it is that unfortunately, until we get to this place where we are able to have conversations about how to make the world a better place without it being color based, we're always gonna have this conversation. And the unfortunate part, this to me feels not so grandiose, but more so as something that's just going to take time. And as I look at the current sitting president of the United States of America just like you, I can imagine from time to time you feel a lot of shame about being an American citizen, and the reality is, I see us out here walking the streets, signing the petitions, calling for change, and doing the things that we promised that we were going to do and that is really beautiful. And ultimately, one day we're going to wake up and the world is going to be the one that we always imagined it could be. And Donald Trump will hopefully no longer be our president. And what will happen is we will be in a place where open conversation and dialogue is allowed and we can protest freely and we can call for change, and we can create a country that we want to live in that we are proud of, that we don't feel shame for. And that is our responsibility as individual leaders, as citizens of the world, and ultimately as people who want to live in a place of harmony and peace and love and understanding.

For many of us, we come from trauma backgrounds and every time we turn on the news or read a newspaper or walk into the streets, we're hit in the face with so much chaos and it has just become natural. And I hope, and I pray that we can get to a place where our new normal is, that we can literally walk down the street in hand in hand with each other, with a common goal of human decency. But until that moment, we have to keep doing what we're doing and until that moment, we have to fight for what it is that we believe is right and for what we believe in. And I'm proud of everyone who is a part of this movement, and I hope as a man of color that one day, I don't have to be scared as I walk down the streets that a cop might shoot me or that someone that I might recognize might shoot me or someone and the list goes on and on might take my life. And the same for you.

And I hope that people can get to this place where as a society we recognize that the only way to heal, much like in the same way that we heal trauma, is that we have to acknowledge our past in order to move through it.

Men stop making excuses for being emotionally closed off and reckless. There's nothing wrong with being vulnerable with the people in your life. It's okay to hurt, feel, cry and love. Being a human being doesn't make you soft. In fact, the strongest thing a man can do is acknowledge his capacity to be an emotional being. I posted that on Instagram the other day after reflecting on the journey that I've made over the course of the last 10 years, and really the majority of my life, to get to a place where I'm okay with being an emotional human being. And the fact that when I sit and I look at the demographics of the audience, who listen to my podcast, who read my books, who visit my websites, who comment on my posts, who have interactions with me, the vast majority by a 421 ratio of my audience is female.

And ladies, if you're listening to this right now, I want you to know I am super grateful for you and I am appreciative of you, and I love you dearly. I promise you I do. This one, however, isn't necessarily for you and the reason is because I am putting out a call to action for my men.

Guys. We have got to step our damn game up. Realistically, I understand where we're at as a man in Western society and specifically in America. I understand exactly what it's like to see something that says men, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, something, emotion. And to totally tune it out and to go, I don't need that. What benefit is that going to bring me? Why should I? That, however, is a huge part of the problem that we are facing right now in society. As men, we are not showing up emotionally, and it is impacting not only who we are as people, but our relationships, our careers, our partnerships, everything. The fact that we are emotionally robotic is actually doing more harm than good in our lives.

And so, as a man who at one point had not cried for 15 years, who was an emotional recluse, who was a robot who has shut down, who had put myself in a position to never step up to the plate in an emotional game, I'm now giving you some tools and I want you to listen to this, not as judgment, my friends, but instead as a guide, as something that you can just think about that can create the context for what comes next in your life.

And ladies, make your man listen to this, especially if you have a man who just refuses to have a conversation with you.

Gentlemen, I wanna be super clear. The reality is that we grew up in a state of environment that said it is not okay to be emotional. This is the same mentality that our fathers had and their grandfathers and them before them and we are not allowed to not only be emotional, but don't dare cry. And if you do cry, you got about three seconds to turn it off because we don't want anyone to see us. The shame and embarrassment is too much. And if you get hurt, you don't go to the doctor and you don't go to the hospital, you put some duct tape on it, you rub a little dirt on it, you're gonna be okay. The reality is you're not gonna be okay, and you're probably not right now because you've put yourself in this position where you're set up for failure because you haven't yet acknowledged the fact that it's okay to be a human being. And because of that, now you're faced with the dilemma. When you step into life and you're put into positions where you have the ability to show up, not only for yourself, but the people around you, you're falling short, you're not showing. And it's impacting you, and you've probably had these moments of wondering like, what is it that I have to do as a man to show up for my partner, for my relationship, and my own personal life and emotional capacity that can actually create a foundational change? First, you have to look at it from an intrinsic standpoint, and that means you have to understand why at the baseline have you been in a position that you cannot be an emotional being, well, maybe cuz your dad said you can't cry or your football coach said, toughen up, or your teacher said, that's not what men do. And the reality is those things aren't embedded not as in our youth carry over way into our life, into our teens, into our adulthood, and well until the day that we die. And that's truth, and you come by that honestly and that truth is that it's not okay. This is the parameter that's set around this concept. It's not okay to cry. It's not okay to hug. It's not okay to be an emotional being, and it's not okay for you to put yourself in a position to be vulnerable with other human beings because it is so fucking scary. Right.

When you think about what it's like to possibly hug your best friend, what's the first thought that comes to mind? Is it terror or is it excitement? I don't know about you, but for the majority of my life it was terrifying the idea that I might interact with another man in a non-sexual way for more than two seconds that wasn't a high five. And you come by that honestly too, because it's a part of who you are. And when you're in partnerships and relationships and your partner wants to sit down and have an emotional conversation, we often go to, Oh my God, you're so emotional, why are you always like this? And what is it that they always ask? They always say, can't you just talk to me? No, of course you can't. Why would you talk to them? I'll tell you why. I'll give you both sides. Why won't you? Because we've always been told that it's not okay to be emotional, that we have to bottle in those fillings and these emotions that we carry with us because God forbid that they escape for one second and shown our vulnerability and humanity out to the public because we'll be scared of judgment.

The only person judging you about being an emotional human being is you. And if the people around you, in your life, in your circle, in your community are judging you for being an emotional human being, then you need to reevaluate the people that are around you because chances are they're not actually supporting you. And your partner who's asking you to have these conversations and to be emotional with them, the thing that they want, the thing that they crave that you actually also need, but you probably haven't recognized yet, is connection because we are human beings and innately, we are meant to love and to connect the first emotion that we feel upon birth as we exit the womb and we're brought into the world most of the time is love. Is this feeling of connectedness and welcomeness. But as we evolve, we find out that love often gets misconstrued and we see that it is possible to get hurt. And for some of us, hurt is the precursor to why we can't be emotional human beings and others it's that football game where coach said, step the fuck up. But the reality is this isn't a game, this is real life, what you're in right now is happening, and you have the ability to make choices that will forever impact and change who you are. Imagine what happens if you let down your walls enough to have a conversation with someone who wants to be in connection with you, who values who you are as a man, who wants the emotional side of you, and who is not going to judge you, who welcomes the idea that for five minutes, you could sit across from eye to eye and for once connect. Imagine the impact that that brings into your life, and then imagine what it would be like for you to put your feet on the ground and to step into the world knowing that you are okay with the idea that when an Adidas commercial comes on with an old man escaping the nursing home and running out to the street that you can cry. That was my experience, and that's true because I've come to find that the way that I feel about myself and the world is not dictated by the opinions of other people, but instead by the way I feel about myself. And we have to come to a place as men and humanity, where we allow ourselves the ability to be emotionally vulnerable to ourselves. And to start with that, first we have to step into this place of being uncomfortable. I don't know about you, but this concept of self-love as a man initially when I first heard it, I was like, I don't need self-love. I'm a fucking man. All I need is cigarettes and booze and the football game, and I'm gonna be fine. And that's not me being like this manly man and showing up as chauvinistic, but the reality is that was the truth. I was like, what do I really need? I need fast car and cool clothes and hot girls and booze and money. I don't need love. I don't need connection. I don't need empathy and sympathy and values, and I don't need to feel like someone can care about me and I don't need vulnerability because those things are scary.

The things that are really scary are often the things that matter the most. And now as I look at it and I reflect on my life and who I am as an emotional human being, I will tell you this. I am more fulfilled now than I have ever been because I was willing to step into this idea of reframing everything that I know about manhood. And to me, this idea of being a man means putting yourself in a position to be emotionally vulnerable because that is the best way to show up for yourself. And this also ties into evaluating what are our wants, needs and interests. We often peak at this idea of life is having the management job and making the seven figures and driving the nice car and having the great home, but we never reflect on the emotional satiation that we need to be a human being. We don't sit back and go, you know what I need right now? I need a hug. I need connection from a friend. I need my partner to hold my hand. I need to cuddle with someone. I need to cry. I want to feel like I'm connected. I want to be emotional. I want to have a moment of real honest truth with another person. And I'll tell you this, if you can find how you come to that place in your life, everything that you know and understand about who you are will shift for the better. I don't know if it's true for everyone, because I'm not everyone, I am only me, but I do know that the moment that I made a decision that it was okay for me to be an emotionally vulnerable human being, it was a lot of really hard work leading into other moments that became beautiful. And what I mean by that, it led into these other moments where it felt like I was at peace with the idea that it was okay to be me. It's okay to cry. It's okay to hug. It's okay to love. It's okay to be a man in a society that says men aren't allowed to do any of those things.

And one of the things that we have to think about also is that we often care far too much about what other people think about us. If you want true freedom as a man, you have got to stop giving a fuck about what other people think about you, especially when it comes to these stages of emotional vulnerability, and especially as you're stepping into love and understanding for who you are because let me tell you this, my friend, there is always gonna be somebody who judges us. And if you have friends who judge you, you need to reevaluate them. And if you have friends who say, oh man, look at you, you're a loser, you are a crying. You should go get new fucking friends, because realistically, the people who are gonna be there to support you are never going to do that. And you'll see this take place and take shape in your life in other areas, right? So how do you get there? How do you even start this process? The first thing that you have to do is you have to look intrinsically at who it is that you are and evaluate what it is that you want and what you need and what you're interested at as emotional man, and sometimes that means taking out a piece of paper, writing it down, and starting to take action steps towards it. Sometimes it means that you have some really deep-seated issues that need professional attention, and that looks like going to a therapist and having a conversation with a professional or doing something like having life coaching with someone like me or sitting down with an emotional journal and bullet pointing the parts of your life that are of value and that interest that you want to tap into at as an emotional being. But ultimately it starts with you and there's fulfillment on the backside of your vulnerability.

People are so scared of this idea to be vulnerable because they're afraid to be hurt, and the reality is you're going to find that vulnerability actually opens you up to be loved, to be cared for, to be taken care, not hurt. And that's not to say hurt can't come also because we're human beings and sometimes we do really shitty things to each other and sometimes we hurt each other and that's the truth. But the better part of that, that thing, the hope, the brass ring that we reach out for as men, it shouldn't be about possession. And I'm not saying that there can't be that because guess what? I still like fast cars and I still like cool clothes that will always be a part of who I am. But you know what I value more than all of those things is the emotional connection that I can have with another human being when I'm face to face with them and having a real conversation.

And more than that, I love the moments of when I have time to myself, and I am alone and I am reflecting on who I am as a person and my growth or the things that make me happy or sad. I can attach emotional meaning to those, and I'm not a recluse and I'm not a robot. And you have to be willing to step into that for you because I'm gonna tell you my friend, being a man is about so much more than what you already know.

And if you want to truly step into what's next for you as a man, it's possible. And I ask you to challenge yourself because imagine all the conversations that you've had and all the times that someone's been like, Tom, you know what, man? You're not being emotional. Or Stephen, Dude, you gotta connect with me. Or DaQuan, Dude, you don't ever hug me. You don't love me. What is going? And instead of shutting down those people who so desperately for one moment need to tap into our strength, we give it to them and we open up and we say, we are here for you. And if that doesn't change your life, my friend, I don't know, what will.

You get to define at the end of the day what being a man means. And I'm not here to preach at you, and I'm not here to tell you this is what it takes to be a man. I'm just simply saying that manhood is your choice and it's a beautiful thing no matter what you do. But there's levels, my friend, and right now you're at the baseline and some people there are Everest. And the truth is you can be anywhere in between. But the question you have to ask yourself is what kind of man do I want to be?

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Michael Unbroken


Michael is an entrepreneur, best-selling author, speaker, coach, and advocate for adult survivors of childhood trauma.