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Putting Down the Shield...and Sword: Understanding the Balance Between Masculinity and Connection

As I was reading through a recent online article “explaining” how “men are incapable of emotional connection”. I was taken aback by this idea pretty quickly because, well, it’s a focal point of not only my work life but my personal life as well.

So, in my thoughts of “surely this is based on research and not just made up, off-the-cuff opinion”, I had to ask myself where they might be getting this idea from.

Picking Up the shield

It’s not hard to realize the usefulness of a shield, especially in today's quick retort, talk first, and think the second online world. Under any number of stressors, be it from work, at home, lack of support in friendships, or just dealing with the latest Dust Bowl era storms to blow through life, it can be pretty easy to pick up your shield.

Maybe it’s because I’ve always been a big fan of the movie “300”, but my thoughts immediately go to images of a big solid metal shield. One that’s meant to be interlocked in phalanx-style coordination with your fellow man. This meant that everyone worked together to multiply the strength of the force. Everyone was safe. But most of us don’t have a phalanx of support we engage with every day. At times, you might find yourself alone in a situation that feels like the fight of a lifetime, so what do you do with this shield by yourself? You need a sword of course.

Turning Defense to Offense

Most people have heard the old saying, “the best defense is a good offense”. This may be true in some areas of life, but when it comes to day-to-day life, it can complicate things quickly. When you pick up the shield and then reach for your sword, relationships can be injured, sometimes irreparably.

When we walk around with the mindset of being attacked, we’re ready for a fight. So maybe that comment about how the house needs to be updated comes across as an attack on your ability to take care of a home. The comment about finances being tight becomes an attack on your role as a provider to those you care about.

It’s a common occurrence, but much like the brave 300, after a while of living in this mindset, it becomes easier and easier to pick to “die on this hill” and live to win every argument. The unfortunate truth though is that there’s never a winner, and everyone loses.

Disarming To Take Control

So if walking around spartan kicking everyone who steps forward with criticism isn’t the ideal approach, what else is there?

When we either choose to put down the shield and sword (or are forced to by conflict at work or at home), that level of exposure can be difficult to get accustomed to. It’s a very vulnerable state to be in and takes applying some new skills to communicate with those around you.

During this transition, finding new ways to recognize emotions, identify what is causing them, and find ways to manage them without yelling, screaming, or spartan kicking takes time and effort. While the process is simple, it’s often not an easy transition, especially after years of practicing your fighting skills.

So, if you are struggling to move past the fights and put down your sword, speaking with a counselor at Mind Works Counseling Services in Lubbock, TX could be a great next step. Our counselors are here to help you find new ways to communicate and move through life, picking your battles.

Learn more about the Men's Counseling services we offer.

Contact us to schedule an appointment or to let us answer any questions you may have.

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