WHAT HAPPENS WHEN MEN DON’T CRY?

History of why men aren’t supposed to cry

Men aren’t supposed to cry or else they are called names – girly, gay, weak are some of the nice ones and there are quite a few nasty ones too. But why? It was always believed since ages that crying is sign of weakness and women can cry because they are the weaker sex. There was a time when a man’s muscles were really important because humans were living in Jungles where they could be attacked by animals or other groups of men. Muscles were important because the wars had to be fought on a regular basis. Every man was expected to protect the country or the land where his clan was growing. That time men just had to fight for the protection of their women and children, they had no time to cry. And that is how the concept of toxic masculinity started to build up to where it is today. It became a fashion to call a young boy names when he cries in public. It became a norm to expect that men are superior and stronger and hence always have to show up their strength to the world. Why? Doesn’t make sense, right?

Rules of the society

Children by nature are self-expressive. A new born doesn’t feel shy in screaming out loud when he/she is hungry. A two year old kid doesn’t feel ashamed taking his/her clothes off in front of strangers. A five year old child believes that he/she is the center of the universe and all his/her needs must be fulfilled. At the age of 7-8, kids start to become sensitive to the rules of society, the rules that are explicitly made and rules that unsaid and are implicit. Explicit rules of the society are taught to kids at a very young age and they are very quick to learn, for example traffic rules etc. Implicit rules of the society are dangerous because they are never spoken about directly. Kids just understand these rules without being told from the way adults around them behave, the way media portrays society etc. 

Boys don’t cry is sometimes an explicit rule in households where boys are told constantly that they aren’t supposed to cry even when they fall down or hurt themselves. But many times the message “boys don’t cry” come from implicit rule that the society has set for them. This is dangerous situation. I am really glad that society is opening up to this situation and bringing the awareness around the mental health of boys and men. If women have proven that they are the go-getters in the world, it is time for men to prove that they are equally emotional and need as much support as women do. 

What really happens when men don’t cry

  1. At a very young age, they learn to suppress their feelings. They realize that they are not supposed to feel hurt or upset but it is ok to feel angry and revengeful. Hence, every time they get hurt they get angry and revengeful. Remember the acid attacks on women who rejected those men? 
  2. Tears is a natural way to keep our eyes moist and protected. They also make you feel relaxed. These tears bag fill up as an emotional reaction for human beings. They contain stress hormones which are secreted from the body in form of tears. When boys don’t cry, they never get rid of their stress hormones. This stress keeps building up to a level of massive explosion which again mostly is violent because they aren’t supposed to cry. Remember the domestic violence cases, especially when the husband is stressed at work?
  3. Tears helps sleep better! This is something that I have experienced, once I cry a lot – I get an amazing deep sleep and when I wake up I am all fresh and positive. Imagine if I don’t cry, I would spend the whole night tossing and turning on my bed with hurt, upset and anger building up inside me. Remember how many men drown themselves in alcohol or commit suicide because they just don’t have a way to deal with life?
  4. Tears provide closure. Have you ever heard how people are encouraged to cry when their loved ones leave the world? That is because death of closed one needs grieving and there is no better to grieve than to cry. When you cry, you give a closure to what is an open wound. Grieving is not just important at a death, it is important at any occasion that makes you feel extremely sad. Without tears grieving is incomplete and wound remains open. 
  5. Crying in open gets you much needed empathy. This is true for girls. When girls cry, they get enough empathy from all around them – boys and girls. They get solutions to get out of the situation. Imagine if we manage to create such an environment for boys too. It would be so easy for them to gain the much needed empathy in that moment. There would be lot less fists fights and emergency hospital visits.

My personal experience with tears

There are times in my life when I constantly feel stressed due to work or other reasons but none of the reasons are strong enough to make me cry. I literally make myself watch an emotional movie that makes me cry and there goes all my stress flowing down from my eyes. Then I just close my eyes which have just been naturally cleaned thoroughly and awesome sleep that I get makes my morning so fresh and positive. This is the way I deal with my tears. 

I am a mother of a 5 year old boy. His favorite colors are pink and purple, he likes to sleep with his cars, cries at every minute thing and is super competitive. In short, he is just 5 year old human being. It would break my heart to pieces if he starts believing someday that something as natural as tears is bad for him. 

My message to all the young boys out there

Life gets tough as you grow…
Whether you get beaten up at school or bullied by some bad kids.
Even if you can’t score well in your exams or you get rejected by a girl you really love.
Maybe you will get cheated on by your best friend or even your girlfriend.
You might get mugged in the middle of the road or you might believe
that your parents aren’t fair to you.
It is possible that you have to deal with a crazy professor or a boss.
There will be plenty of moments in life where you will feel like crying, where you will feel that tears are welling up in your eyes.
Don’t stop them, let them flow and you will see how your spirits will rise to face the life once again in all new light.

ALLOWING SPACES – TALK ABOUT IT

Recently I was talking to one of my friends and she mentioned why she stopped going to a certain hair salon. They hired a new hair stylist who wouldn’t stop talking and would continue marketing their xyz brand of shampoo or conditioner or some new hair treatment. She said – I need my space when I go to pamper myself in salon. I don’t like to talk. It made me realize that the space is not just needed in the relationships but also with strangers.

In an attempt to contribute our bit to help the problem of Bangalore traffic, many of us opted for Car Pooling to and from work. It helps immensely in numerous ways. There is an app which helps organize the rides for the passengers and the riders. It is a win-win for all. But still I took about a year to come to a decision to actually use it. Why? Why did I want to go in over-crowded buses which take double the time to cover the same distance? Because I feared that I wouldn’t get my space if I share the rides. I would have to talk to people and it would look rude to just sleep or read or work. However, that wasn’t the case – I realized once I started using this option.

I convinced one of my colleagues to start sharing his car with others. He would travel 20 kms daily all alone in the car. What a waste of space! I would often tell him that. He gave in and started to use the car pool option. However, the next day he came back telling me that by the time he reached home – he had a bad headache and ended up fighting up with his wife. Why? Because there was a lady in his car who wouldn’t stop talking about all the over the world. She talked so much that he reached home with a headache and with no mood to listen to his wife. Well, it happens I said! And we had a good laugh at his expense. Again having enough space even with strangers is extremely important.

Once a year at our workplace the entire team goes to an out-station for a couple of days for some team-building and fun activities. This time we went to Pondicherry. It was an amazing trip. In fact, amazing is I think a less of a word. I noticed and it was obvious that people wanted to be comfortable with the people they shared their rooms with. It was just 2 nights but yes all of us need our space especially when we got this one chance to be away from home and responsibilities and be ourselves.

So, what is this concept of “Space”? It is not a physical area. It is virtual boundaries that we draw around ourselves. For some people these boundaries are too strict and for others these are quite flexible. For some of us these boundaries are very close to us only encompassing us and a little bit of other things and for others these boundaries are really vast that they wouldn’t want to share most of their personal stuff even with closest family members.

I have been on both sides of a conversation – one in which I am complaining “How much space do you really need?” and other in which I am complaining “I really need my space so please stay away”.

This might come as a surprise to most men. We women are usually perceived as nagging and irritating. It is usually believed that wives always want to keep a tab on their husbands and their activities. So obviously, it is also notion that wives suck away all time and energy from their men, so much that husbands have to lie to have some “me” time. But this notion is wrong. Women too need their space and “me” time. Maybe a little lesser than men but we need it or maybe even not.

My husband loves to travel alone and I used to get into arguments with him quite often. “Why can’t you take me also?” And he would say “next time, I promise”. And I would just nag away irritated and angry. Whenever I would complain about having a horrible time – he would suggest “Why don’t you go and travel?” and I would be like “With whom?” He would realize then that I do not like to travel alone. I would love to go out in a group or with him where I have somebody.

This is just one example of where we land into a conversation of having space.

I have a 3 year old son and as I can see he simply doesn’t have the concept of having his own space. Probably he is too young for that. He always wants somebody with him when he is sleeping or watching TV or playing or reading. I am eager to see at what age he develops this concept. And probably I would relieved also because then I would get my space as well with him.

Communicating about having our own boundaries or space is most challenging with our immediate family members. But all the happy families eventually learn to talk about it and appreciate each other’s need to be themselves in their own spaces. This journey isn’t easy. It just depends on how much trust and security is in relationships within the family. Every individual is unique in needing his/her space and also communicating about it. Always having a clear communication about the needs and respecting each other’s needs is all that is needed to allow the right amount of space in the relationships.

SINCE WHEN DID DOING SOMETHING LIKE A GIRL BECOME AN INSULT FOR A BOY?

“Congratulations! It’s a girl.”

I was dying to hear this in the labor room but it wasn’t supposed to be. I had a boy!

But unfortunately there are many people who go to all possible limits to ensure that they only get a news that says “It’s a boy!” In my opinion, there is nothing wrong in having a preference towards the gender of your child (like I had for a girl), the problem comes when people start to take inhuman decisions for that preference like abortion and killing the girl infant. If not, they would discriminate between the genders.

I personally know a family who is blessed with 2 daughters and they are so worried that who will take over their huge family business in future. The mother of the girls was made to abort the third child at least twice because she conceived a girl again. Not only are they doing foeticide but they are also putting the mother’s health at risk with these multiple pregnancies and abortions. The only question I have for this family and other’s of this kind “why can’t your daughter handle the family business?” I never got a convincing answer for that question.

It hurts me so deeply to see that people just cannot see girls as capable and as precious as boys.

“Let your brothers have those buttery paranthas – you can have later if there is anything left over.”

“While your brother is going to play football, why can’t you just make sure that kitchen is clean post lunch?”

“Keeping the home maintained is a girl’s responsibility. No matter what. So, you should better start learning the art of it.”

These statements aren’t uncommon even in today’s world. I have no idea why is it only girl’s responsibility to cook and clean when these things are something that is needed for the survival of a human being. Boys should know it as much as girls.

There was a brilliant advertisement made with #LikeAGirl. In that advertisement they ask certain questions to kids in late teens and the same questions to 10 year olds and younger kids. One of the question that they ask is “how does a girl run?”

Older boys and girls tend to mock it as a shabby way of running. Younger kids (both boys and girls) show a girl running normally and a 5 year old girl says – “running like a girl means running as fast as you can”. Then they throw a question to the audience “Since when did doing something as a girl become an insult?”

“Don’t cry like a girl! You are a boy”

“My daughter will be my son. She will support me in my old age”

Do you notice something weird in above statements? Doing something as a girl is a demotion of a boy. Doing something as a boy is always a promotion for the girl.

Who made this hierarchy that said boys are superior than girls? It’s just an outcome of patriarchal society that we exist in.

It is high time that we save our girl children and give them as much love and care as we give to our sons. It is also important that we watch our words when we talk to our kids. Saying anything that implicitly means that boys are superior should be omitted. It is very much required that our coming generation learns that both boys and girls are equal.

CAN YOU KEEP A SECRET?

Not me, for sure. All my dear friends know that if they have to make me keep a secret, they have to remind me to keep my mouth shut a hundred times in a day, then probably there is a chance that I won’t blabber anything out.

Having said that, my life itself is an open book, everybody knows almost all about me. In fact, my interest in writing began with my ultimate desire to speak out and to share. I was in a habit of writing my diary since I was 9 or 10. I loved writing my diary and I never really made an attempt to hide the diary from my parents or siblings. Almost all my posts would start with “Dear God” and end with “Thank you God for blessing me”. Those endless letters to God made me really strong and they made me feel that I am sharing myself with an eternal power.

Beyond a point, I got bored of writing to God and stopped writing altogether. That was the time when I had a lot of friends and I used to share a lot with them. But sharing with humans was different, everybody had their own opinions and they would let me know them almost instantly. Sometimes opinions would hurt me because they would be so negative. Slowly and gradually, sharing with friends also lessened.

Then facebook was born and I was so glad that it was so easy to share yourself with the world with just a click. I got famous for my facebook posts. Obviously, my facebook posts were not as open as my letters to God but they were good enough for my need to share. Then I realized that posting on facebook had its own consequences which weren’t very favorable to me.

Right at that point of time, I came across WryteStuff. That was when my passion for writing got a new road. It is after all a desire to share and be understood. It is a desire to share my deepest feelings and thoughts sometimes in a straight forward way and sometimes as a part of a third person’s story. It is said that when a story writer writes a story, he/she has a part him/herself in every character of the story. This is indeed very true. And this makes the real passion of story writing. Designing complicated characters and their thoughts and feelings is nothing but deep and strong thoughts of writer.

As for any secrets left with me, there are a few left in me which I prefer to keep as a secret. Some of them don’t make me feel good, some of them make me feel ashamed of my actions and there are others which are utterly embarrassing. But these need to be with me, for me to be me.

Question is can you really keep a secret? I don’t know how to answer that. I think everybody has different levels of secret keeping set in them. Some of them set it really high. Even basic things about their personal lives is a secret for them, for others this bar is set really low and they don’t mind sharing their past affairs and breakups or anything else for that matter. This bar makes all the difference. I think this bar is set really low for me. Only the incidents that make me feel ashamed or embarrassed are across the line, apart from that everything is shareable. Sometimes, it becomes difficult for me to understand when the bar is set too high for a few people and they trust me with their secret. I have learned to respect that everybody has that bar set somewhere, and it is for their own reasons. I have learned to make sure that I don’t let the cat out for somebody else when it really is none of my business. After all, respecting each other secret bars is one of the most important parts of a relationship. I have learned this after a few tough situations.

WHAT ARE PRIVACY SETTINGS?

Recently I got a marketing call wherein the sales person was trying to sell me a device that can be used for an effective spying. It is small device and should be hidden at a place that you want to spy on. It has a telephone number. If you call on that number, the line gets connected after a ring and you can hear everything that is being talked about at that particular place. The sales woman said that “Ma’am, now you can easily know what is being talked about you behind your back”

I was amazed that people are openly marketing and selling stuff that is immorally just so wrong.

A person’s smartphone contains a lot of information for that person – bank information, emails, private chats, pictures, videos etc. Accessing somebody smartphone is like having access to that person’s private life. You just have to google to find out that there are millions of spy tools/softwares available today that can be used to find out every single piece of information from somebody’s phone without even touching the phone more than once.

Parents want access to their child’s real time activity in school using the CCTV cameras with a complete disregard to the fact that child also might need a little privacy. CCTV cameras are apparently found everywhere these days including the trial rooms of fashion stores and changing rooms of fitness centers. At a single click, all the information can be made available to anybody irrespective of the sensitivity of the information.

Keeping your private life really private has become a challenge these days. The concept of privacy has been invaded by the growing technology. CCTV has become a solution to every other problem. So much data is being created using this technology and there is absolutely no control over the transmission of the data. Videos become viral at a lightning speed.

For me, privacy is at two steps. First step privacy is to keep outsiders away from my personal life. Nobody outside of my family should have access to my personal stuff. Second step privacy is my individual private stuff that I need to keep from my family as well. There is my personal diary, my chats with my spouse, friends and relatives etc. that I would not want my whole family to know about.

First step privacy is easier to deal with and can be achieved using proper privacy settings in social media profiles, keeping a check on what is being shared on the outside by my family members, keeping the passwords secure enough, using cyber police as much as possible.

Second step privacy can be much more of a concern and is trickier to handle because when the people from your own family become spies – it is difficult to know and cover that up. The only way to handle this is by developing enough trust and respecting the boundaries. If boundaries are crossed – it should be made clear to each other.

I know of couples who keep their smartphones absolutely open to each other. They know each other’s passwords and don’t mind being checked on. Whereas I also know of spouses who do not share passwords including the phone lock codes with each other. Both the couples are happy with the kind of setting they have with each other and they agree to the boundaries.

It doesn’t matter what privacy settings / boundaries are set between spouses – as long as they agree and it works for them. Same thing also for parents and children. They should also set the boundaries of privacy quite explicitly with each other especially when kids are teenagers. Parents might want to keep a check on the child’s activities, but it is extremely important to also respect his/her privacy.

Trust is broken when privacy boundaries are not respected and when one of the parties feel that their privacy has been invaded. And this is very dangerous because it takes only a moment to break trust but years to rebuild it.

So, time to think – what are your privacy settings with your loved ones? Have you defined them explicitly and agreed on them? Or is it something that is implicitly understood between you and your loved one?

Remember, privacy is an important element of one’s identity and should be handled with a great care.

​WHY IS PERSONAL BRANDING IMPORTANT?

This article is not about making your career or boosting your business. Even though branding has always been considered a business topic – to me it is very personal. It is to believe who you are, what you want from your life and declaring it to the world in a way that the world starts relating to you differently. 

Branding is not showcasing you as somebody else. It is also not about wearing expensive clothes and driving expensive cars. It is all about how you want others to see you and relate to you.

Some 10 years earlier, I was involved in a course named “Landmark Education” and that course taught me a lot of things and one of the important ones was to learn how to confront others. We were given a task of taking interviews of people from different areas of our lives. We were given some set of questions that would make us aware of how we are perceived by people in that area of our lives. For example – I took interviews of one of my colleagues, one of my college friends, one of my cousins etc. 

What happened while taking those interviews was that I was so very surprised at so many things that people liked and disliked about me. I was very surprised to know who I was for them. Some surprises were pleasant and some were not, but they were all surprises. That was when I realized that if I do not consciously take care of maintaining my image/brand, it will just get built on its own. Of course, that doesn’t mean that I stop being myself and try to put on a false show – it just means that understand the consequences of your actions and take responsibility for them. 

That was the first ever time in my life when I truly understand the meaning of “Creating your own brand”. 

Who are you seen as? What do your friends talk about you when you are not with them? Is it positive or negative? Are they making fun of you or talking about the great things that you have done? Or do they even talk about you? Are people happy to have you in their group or they simply don’t care? Who are you to them? These are some of the basic questions that your “Brand” answers.

How do you consciously try to create your brand? 

Be true to yourself – Never ever put up a false show. It doesn’t work. If you try to be somebody other than yourself, people will see right through you in no time. It doesn’t work. Be your own self.

Be committed – It all depends on how badly you want to create a true brand for yourself. And it is not easy to do this. It takes time, energy, thoughts and a lot of work. Commitment is the key here. 

Define your aspirations – Who do you really want to be? How do you see yourself 10, 20 or 30 years from now? Be very precise of your aspirations today, they will keep changing and you will see that change in you if you define it appropriately now. 

Understand your strengths – As a culture, we are always asked to focus on our improvements areas. Sometimes so much that we forget what our strengths really are. Always play by your strengths and to do that you need to understand what you are good at. 

What are your brand attributes – What is it that you want people should relate to you as? What kind of adjectives you want people to use for you? Once you know what your brand attributes are, you also need to understand why those things are important to you. Again your brand attributes will also change with time. 

Once you understand how you want people to relate to you, you need to understand the current situation. Then start working towards creating the image or brand that is line with the attributes you defined earlier. 

Working towards creating your brand could include anything – your social media profiles, your display pictures, the topic of your conversations with others, your posts on social media, your attitude towards others, the work that you do etc. 

Few years back when I was talking to one of my colleagues in one of the interviews I mentioned earlier, he said that he doesn’t think I am as committed to my work as I ought to be and sometimes he doubts if he can really depend on me. This came as total surprise to me because I never thought of myself as non-committal. At that point of time, I made it a mission to create an image of me that is dependable and committed. It took quite a change of perspective to do that. I started communicating regularly what I was doing and how I was doing a certain task, I started being proactive in meeting small milestones so that big deadlines are never missed. And it worked.

On the personal front, I had an image of being a cry baby. Any argument with any family member used to end in me crying about it. I used to cry in a way that it would force the other person to just close the topic. I got this feedback various times and few years back I took it up to be more mature in my discussions/arguments with my family members. Every time during an argument I felt like crying – I would just tell the person that I am unable to control it and I need a break. That would give me some time to think about the topic and also come in right perspective. And it worked yet again. I managed to change the brand that I had created for myself.

So, think about it. What is your current brand? Are you happy with your brand? If not, then what do you need to do to turn it around?