Steve Hein's EI Home Page
Men's Page -- under construction..
For a long time I have wanted to write something specifically for men. As with many of my ideas I have good intentions, but haven't done much to show for them. So here I will begin my collection of ideas for men and about men and about me as a member of the male species.
My personal story
A few words on the book Men are from mars women are from Venus (and other somewhat related things)
Some of my personal story
One of the main things I want to say is that because I was so emotionally needy, I drove away the females I most wanted and needed. I needed too much of nearly everything from them. Attention, affection, admiration, adoration, appreciation, esteem, worth, understanding, etc.
In one relationship, as I was just learning to identify my specific feelings I realized I felt unappreciated, unvalued, unimportant, for example. I then expected and tried to demand that my partner fill all these unmet needs. When she didn't I began to judge her, criticize her, intellectually attack her. She is the one I call "Sue" on my romance page.
I have lost a lot of special people in my life. Many females to whom I was once very important (probably to the point of being too important), I now have no contact with at all. I was looking at the females I mentioned by name in my 1996 book for example. Most of them I have no contact with now whatsoever.
I have had a lot of relationships. I have been married twice, but neither of those relationships were the most important ones emotionally. The most important relationship I had, or at least the most emotionally intense relationship was with a university student when I was getting my masters degree. She was 19 when I met her...
I am starting to get teary eyed now thinking of her....
So I take a moment and feel the feeling of loss and take off my glasses and rub my eyes. And I take a couple of big breaths. It takes less time now for the intense emotions to pass through me, let's say.
Anyhow, she was a real mess emotionally. Like many of my "victims" she was a child of an alcoholic, and of divorce. I felt so powerful and important with her. I believed I could "save"her" from her drinking, smoking and drug use. I have written pages and pages about her in my journal over the past few years. Someday I probably should write a whole book just about that relationship, but for now the main point is that she was the love of my life, as the expression goes. At one point she would do anything for me. Now she won't talk to me.
So I guess it would be fair to say that I acted in self-destructive ways. My emotions were self-destructive, my thoughts were self-destructive. I didn't figure any of this out till about 15 years later. A couple of years ago I called her on her birthday, but she didn't want to talk to me. I felt rejected and resentful so I wrote her a bitter letter. She wrote back and basically ordered me to stay out of her life. I didn't like being told what to do on top of being rejected so I wrote back something even more bitter and even a bit threatening. I told her I was going to put all of her old love letters on my web page and tell the world about how she slept with me when I was married and how she had an abortion and used to use drugs and on and on!
It is funny now to think that even after all the years and all the things I thought I had learned, I could still regress into that kind of "childish" cycle.
On the book "Men are from mars and women are from Venus." and some stuff on other books and more of my personal story
The book helped me a bit, but the author says that men can't talk about their feelings. Well, this is crap, let's say. We simply were never taught now to, encouraged to etc. In one of my booklets I have a page called Gender Myths, which says more about this.
But getting back to that book.... Women loved the book. As we know it is women who buy 99 percent or whatever of all those kinds of books. Very few men I have met have said they got much out of it. I think this is because the author was clearly writing for women, and he was writing to sell books, not really to help men. He knew that women would buy the books, so he knew that if he made us sound a bit like idiots he would sell more books because so many women think we are idiots, (and jerks and bastards, etc.). I feel a little resentful of how he described men. Of course he made some pretty offensive statements about women as well. He recommended that women should just "go shopping" when their man is upset, as one of his suggestions.
But he is a millionaire now and I am living in a little trailer in the woods, so he obviously said something which appealed to a lot of people. He went on though, to exploit his fame and even prostitute himself, I would say. He started putting his name and face on just about everything imaginable. He wrote a book about men and women in the bedroom which was one of the biggest wastes of paper I have seen in a while.
I went to observe a workshop once on violence. The men in there had all been court-ordered to attend because they had been physically violent with their partners. Or they chose to attend the course instead of jail. I don't think John Gray's book would have been much help to them.
Nor do I think it would be much help to a guy with a Ph.D. -- the language is too simple and the perspective is too simplistic. Nor is there much if any "research" to support his claims, most of which have some truth in them but are exaggerated to the point where he loses credibility with an intelligent reader. Now, let me clarify that a bit. I have to say that if an intelligent person is in enough need, if they are desperate enough, they will read that book or anything else they can get their hands on. Just as an intelligent person who was starving would be happy to have a meal offered to him by a complete dolt!
I hope that my writing fits somewhere in between that of John Grey and that of Daniel Goleman, who is so overly intellectual even when he talks about emotions that his book on emotional intelligence is not of much practical value at all. It is interesting, fascinating even. But still it is of little practical value if you are feeling jealous, vengeful, hostile, destructive, resentful, rejected, unimportant, etc.
So this leads me to one of the main points I want to make about what I learned with emotions. I learned to identify specific feelings and label them. Then I learned to categorize them as basically healthy and helpful or unhealthy and unhelpful. The unhealthy, unhelpful self-destructive ones I try to not to act on. I am working continuously on developing ways that work for me to change them from negative to neutral or positive emotions.
A lot of this is through the cognitive stuff. Like David Burns talked about in an old book called Feeling Good, which is based on rational emotive therapy and the work of Beck and others. This stuff helped me but now I see it as too cognitive. When it gets too cognitive we become something less than human, I believe. We lose true empathy and true compassion and true emotional connection with others. I have watched people go through this process and I slipped a bit down that slippery slope as well before I got a hold on the importance of emotions. For all that I criticize Dan Goleman, his book did help me see the survival value of our emotions and it helped me understand a few more things about emotions, the brain etc.
Something else I learned, (or am still learning) is that I could feel something, and express the feeling and experience the feeling without acting on it. For example, I was once very frustrated over a relationship and I was holding a small glass which I thought of smashing into the cement block wall. I held the glass and looked at it. I remembered to ask myself, "What am I feeling right now?" I realized I was feeling destructive. Once I labeled these feelings, I was able to put the glass down without shattering it. Perhaps I was also feeling powerless, and the thought of make a big noise and getting a reaction from something might have helped me feel powerful on some almost primal level. At anyrate, as I come to understand my emotions and my emotions more I definitely am happier with my choices.
Gender Myths - Here is a page out of my general booklet on EQ
A recent US best-seller proclaimed that men and women are so different that we must be from different planets! Men, it was said, can't talk about their feelings. Thus, the author suggested that when a man is upset, a woman should just go shopping!
Well, speaking for the one man I know best, I can say that I feel insulted, underestimated and stereotyped by such misleading generalizations. Not only do I believe the author's premise to be false, but I believe it contributes to the problem by perpetuating a dysfunctional myth. In my experience, men, like women, can talk about their feelings if they are given the words to do so.
This myth that men are insensitive is also reinforced through the socialization process. Boys are not supposed to cry, and if they do they are denigrated with labels such as sissy, woman, pansy, pantywaist and much worse, all of which are designed to shame them into acting "manly." In the male world, one of the first things boys learn is that the expression of any so-called feminine feelings will quickly bring mockery, ridicule, rejection and other forms of social disapproval.
Boys are taught to play with injuries and are admired when they endure pain. Men have long been taught to blindly obey in areas such as law enforcement, the military and even in some corporations. A man who is trained to kill animals for trophies, to fight bulls for entertainment and to kill other humans in battle is a man who has been conditioned to alienate himself from his feelings. And now it seems women are becoming more like men, rather than vice versa.
Research shows that women, in general, are by nature more empathetic, sensitive and attuned to their own and others' feelings. But I have known some men who are more emotionally sensitive than some women. The preliminary scores on the Mayer Salovey Caruso EI tests also show that there is only a small difference in the composite EI score.1 From personal experience, I've found it easy to teach men to identify and express their feelings as described in the section on Emotional Literacy. And finally, I am living proof that not all men are from Mars!
Taken From: Hein, S. (2000) EQ for Everybody, Generic Version
1. See Mayer, J. D., Caruso, D., & Salovey, P. (2000) Emotional intelligence meets traditional standards for an intelligence. Intelligence, 27 (4), p. 282
Here is a link to a good article on how boys are "emotionally crippled" by society. It is from the magazine published by the American Psychological Association (APA)
(back up copy below)
Now for some humor on how to be an insensitive, invalidating man:
TO WOMEN EVERYWHERE FROM A MAN
WHO'S HAD ENOUGH
Learn to work the toilet seat. If it's up, put it down. We need
it up, you need it down. You don't hear us bitching about you
leaving it down.
If you won't dress like the Victoria's Secret girls, don't expect
us to act like soap opera guys.
If you think you're fat, you probably are. Don't ask us. We
refuse to answer.
Birthdays, Valentines, and Anniversaries are not quests to see if
we can find the perfect present yet again!
If you ask a question you don't want an answer to, expect an
answer you don't want to hear.
Sometimes, we're not thinking about you. Live with it. Don't ask
us what we're thinking if you are going to feel hurt when it isn't about you.
Sunday = Sports. It's like the full moon or the changing of the
tides. Let it be.
Shopping is not a sport, and no, we're never going to think of it
When we have to go somewhere, absolutely anything you wear is
You have enough clothes.
You have too many shoes.
Crying is blackmail.
Ask for what you want. Let's be clear on this one: Subtle hints
don't work. Strong hints don't work. Really obvious hints don't
work. Just say it!
We don't know what day it is. We never will. Mark anniversaries
on the calendar.
Peeing standing up is more difficult. We're bound to miss
Most guys own three pairs of shoes. What makes you think we'd be
any good at choosing which pair, out of thirty, would look good
with your dress?
Yes and No are perfectly acceptable answers to almost every
Come to us with a problem only if you want help solving it.
That's what we do.
Sympathy is what your girlfriends are for.
A headache that lasts for 17 months is a problem. See a doctor.
Foreign films are best left to foreigners.
Check your oil.
It is neither in your best interest nor ours to take the quiz
No, it doesn't matter which quiz.
Anything we said 6 months ago is inadmissible in an argument.
All comments become null and void after 7 days.
If something we said can be interpreted two ways, and one of the
ways makes you sad or angry, we meant the other one.
Let us ogle. We're going to look anyway; it's genetic.
You can either tell us to do something OR tell us how to do
something but not both.
Whenever possible, please say whatever you have to say during
ALL men see in only 16 colors. Peach is a fruit, not a color.
If it itches, it will be scratched.
Beer is as exciting for us as handbags are for you.
If we ask what's wrong and you say "nothing," we will act like
nothing's wrong. We know you're lying, but it's just not worth
Boys to men: emotional miseducation
Boys are still taught to forfeit sensitivity for a 'mask of bravado,' say violence experts.
By Bridget Murray
American boys are being so "emotionally miseducated" by everyone from parents and peers to the entertainment industry, say some psychologists, that the recent outbreak of murderous rampages at school may be an inevitable result.
And, say a small group of psychological researchers--who have spent the past several years independently studying and voicing concern about the ways our culture emotionally cripples boys--a set of unique stresses is continuing to propel today's young males down a troubled path. Among their findings:
Schools are "antiboy." Elementary schools emphasize reading and restrict the activity of young boys, who are generally more active and slower to read than girls. Teachers often discipline boys more harshly than girls. Sensitivity isn't modeled to boys, so they don't learn it.
"When we don't let boys cry tears, some will cry bullets," says William Pollack, PhD, co-director of the Center for Men at McLean Hospital/Harvard Medical School. He is one of several psychologists--among them James Garbarino, PhD, Dan Kindlon, PhD, and Michael Thompson, PhD--conducting research on boys' problems and calling on their colleagues to join them.
Among their suggestions: Heed what we're already finding about boys, conduct further research to enhance that understanding and revise what Pollack calls the "Boys' Code" of toughness.
"Even the men who'd like to offer boys a gentler model of masculinity feel constrained by their peers," says Garbarino, co-director of the Family Life Development Center at Cornell University. "We need get past this tremendous inertia on who will dare to be different."
Since Littleton, psychologists' work on teen-age boys has grabbed the attention of the public, media and research community. Garbarino's book, "Lost Boys: Why Our Sons Turn Violent and How We Can Save Them," (Free Press, 1999), sold out immediately in its first printing in April. Likewise, "Raising Cain: Protecting the Emotional Life of Boys" (Ballantine, 1999), by Kindlon and Thompson, immediately hit the bestseller list and sold out after its April release. And Pollack's book, "Real Boys: Rescuing Our Sons from the Myths of Boyhood," (Henry Holt, 1998) topped the nation's list of paperback bestsellers.
Pollack, Garbarino and others say the symptoms of boys' growing dissatisfaction, previously ignored, have been steadily building: Rising numbers of boys are prescribed the drug Ritalin for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder--legitimately prescribed in some cases but perhaps over-prescribed to curb acting-out behaviors in others.
Also, boys' academic performance has declined, while girls' achievement has risen. The same pattern is true for college attendance. And boys are much more likely than girls to hurt or kill themselves or each other.
A lopsided gender revolution
What's responsible for the troubling trends? Kindlon, a child-development researcher at Harvard University, points to what he calls society's "emotional miseducation" of boys. Meaning that boys are taught to shut down their feelings, including empathy, sympathy and other key ingredients of pro-social behavior. Combine that emotional disconnection with increased exposure to violent movies and video games and decreased supervision by adults, says Kindlon, the co-author, with Thompson, of "Raising Cain: Protecting the Emotional Life of Boys" (Ballantine, 1999) and "you've got a recipe for disaster."
Until recently, researchers have largely overlooked the alarming state of male socialization. Up to the 1970s, boys had mainly been the focus of pioneering psychologists such as Erik Erikson, Harry Stack Sullivan and Lawrence Kohlberg. But with the advent of feminism, researchers found adolescent girls were ignored in the research and had different problems from boys. This triggered a new line of study, and researchers led by psychologist Carol Gilligan, PhD, of Harvard University's Graduate School of Education, began listening to girls' voices and their concerns about female stereotypes of beauty, thinness and passivity.
But as girls were urged to shed stereotypes and enter traditionally "male" career fields, boys weren't encouraged to challenge male stereotypes and enter traditionally "female" fields.
For example, there's still a taboo among many men against being a male kindergarten teacher, notes Barney Brawer, PhD, a former Gilligan student and now coordinator of Tufts University's Program for Educational Change Agents. And, says Kindlon, many men fear that if "any femininity or softness creeps into our lives, we'll stop being men." Not that men are the only ones who perpetuate male "toughness," he says. Women unconsciously reinforce it by discouraging signs of weakness in sons and husbands.
'Will you please pay attention?'
Some researchers working with Gilligan have begun applying to boys the same qualitative methods they've been using with girls--interviewing them about their experiences without structured surveys or checklists. Their approach, known as the 'voice-centered relational method,' uses open-ended questions to let people to say what they really think and feel.
Niobe Way, PhD, a former student of Gilligan's who uses the method, says that it is enabling her and other developmental researchers to update the 1950s theory that boys primarily value autonomy and seek individuation above all else.
"The boys of the 1990s are screaming, 'Will you please pay attention?'" says Way, an assistant professor of psychology at New York University.
In research reported in her book "Everyday Courage: The Lives and Stories of Urban Teenagers," (New York University Press, 1998), Way found that as boys enter adolescence, most stop trusting other boys and lose their closest friends.
"They talked about how much they wish they could have an intimate friend," says Way. "They told strong, angry, sad stories about how they couldn't trust anyone."
That conformity to traditional masculinity, says Pollack, takes hold at adolescence. He recently administered Pleck's Traditional Male Role Attitude Scale to 150 boys, ages 12 to 18. Most scored high, supporting notions such as "A guy always has to stand on his two feet and fight for respect," and "It bothers me when a guy acts like a girl." However, most boys in the same sample also scored high on the Sex Role Egalitarianism Scale, supporting equal professional training for women and men, and courses in home management for both sexes.
The results indicate a split in boys' idea of being a man, says Pollack. "Boys are caught in a gender-role Catch 22," he says. "Not only do many of them feel isolated, they're also confused."
Unmasking the subterranean life
Pollack and others suggest investigating why boys stop trusting each other; why they lose close friends; why they feel isolated and neglected; from whom they learn traditional notions of masculinity; how gender-role confusion affects them and how they handle it.
Existing research doesn't really get to "how boys see themselves, what underlies their aggression," adds Garbarino. To find answers, he listens to the stories of troubled boys incarcerated for murder. Their stories, he says, not only enlighten him but enable the boys themselves to see what underlies their behavior.
"Boys' inner life is often quite subterranean and seems inaccessible to us and to themselves," says Garbarino. "But when we ask them about it, it's often the first time they're engaged in this kind of self-reflection."
In addition to interviewing boys, rigorous empirical research is needed, says Pollack. He calls for survey and quantitative studies of adolescent boys' disconnection from others and themselves, of how to improve boys' socialization, of demographic and ethnic differences in boys' self-perceptions and of how the sexes interact.
Making a plan
Also needed, say Pollack and Kindlon, is an action plan to help boys prosper, prevent them from becoming alienated and stop their academic decline. They believe in restructuring elementary schools. Young boys are typically more rambunctious than girls, says Kindlon, yet grade school teachers, overwhelmingly women, confine them to chairs for long periods and punish them for activity. As a result, some boys develop a negative notion of education as controlling and prohibitive, he says.
"Many boys think schools are rigged so that they can't succeed," says Kindlon. "Particularly in elementary school, boys aren't as ready to sit still and they generally are not as verbal and ready to start reading. This comes at a time when competence is a major psychological task. So if they're not fitting in academically, some boys will turn to dominating and fighting others."
Kindlon suggests hiring more male teachers who've had the same experiences, and providing more outlets for activity in schools. More intimate environments in smaller schools, say Kindlon and Pollack, would likely allow for more connection between boys and adults.
More generally, Pollack suggests adults spend more time with boys and change their expectations of them. Boys can be encouraged to be caring rather than tough. Mothers can learn from fathers how to engage in sports and active play with their sons. And fathers can learn from mothers how to be more nurturing, says Pollack. What boys need most, psychologist agree, is the love and understanding of adults.
"If we understand the sadness in boys," says Garbarino, "we'll deal with that sadness and not wait to have to cope with their aggression."Y