The Playbook for Men’s Emotions
Recently Kevin Love, a professional basketball player formerly with the Minnesota Timberwolves, now with the Cleveland Cavaliers, shared about his personal experience of having a panic attack during a game and how that completely shifted his opinion about mental health.
I’m sharing this article for a number of reasons. What Kevin Love is expressing is important for men and boys to hear—and hear clearly. Everyone, and I mean everyone, is going through something and the “Man Mantra” of “be strong, get through it on your own, don’t talk about it because you’ll look and be perceived as weak” doesn’t work and hasn’t worked for a long long time.
As boys, we start learning, as Kevin says, “what it takes to ‘be a man’. It’s like a playbook…” We learn about the “playbook” around the age of 4 or 5. That’s when school starts for the first time. If you find yourself sad or hurt and you show that emotion through crying you are labeled a ‘cry-baby’ and the indoctrination starts.
By the time middle school comes around ‘cry-baby’ turns to ‘wussy’ and at high school you graduate to ‘pussy.’ I know that word may have shocked you, however, this is the word that came out in Brene Brown’s research while interviewing men stating, “It didn’t matter if the man was eighteen or eighty when asked ‘What’s the shame message?’ the answer was ‘Don’t be a pussy.’” Unfortunately, this word tends to be a key word in our lives. The goal is never to be called a ‘pussy’ and be perceived as weak.
Having men who are in the public eye share their experiences with mental health and breaking down that “man mantra” is so important in helping change the perceived “correct” way men are expected to act.