Why I Don’t Tell My Woman How I Feel

People often look at me like I’ve got some sort of mental problem when I tell them that I don’t usually tell my woman (or anyone else for that matter) how I feel.


It’s not that I never show emotion, because that’s certainly not the case. I’m not actively repressing myself. My girl would agree that I’m actually a big softy underneath a sullen and sometimes grim exterior.


But I try not to show any negative emotion around other people because I don’t want them to be affected by my bad mood.


Feelings are temporary, emotions change, and what you think is important right now won’t mean a damn thing in a few hours.


To always pay attention to your emotions and attribute importance or meaning to how you feel is to choose to be inconsistent.


But I want to be consistent.


I want to be a calming influence on the people around me, a source of reassurance, somebody who inspires confidence.


“If dad’s freaking out, everybody’s freaking out.”


I can’t remember where I heard that quote, but it’s true.


People are subconsciously affected by the energy and mood of the people around them. I want the energy I put out to be something that lifts people up rather than weighing them down.


So I try not to let emotion show through when I think it might negatively affect others.


I try to be the guy that keeps himself together at all times, especially in times of crisis.


I want to be the guy whose mere presence puts people at ease, who people look at and think:


“It’s ok. He’s here.”


Do I feel like I’m that guy?


Not a chance. 


But I’m working on it, and that’s what really matters because it doesn’t matter how I feel.


What matters is what I do with my feelings.


The great thing about being a human is that we’re not governed by our emotions alone. We also have reason.


Reason and rational thought allow us to step back from our emotions and impulses to analyze our situation and determine what it means. Does the fact that I feel sad mean I’m unhappy with my life, or am I just being emotional?


I get to decide what my emotions mean or whether they mean anything at all. Usually, they don’t mean a damn thing because my emotions do not define me. My deeds define me.


So I get to decide what to do with feelings or whether to do anything at all with them.


And so do you.


You get to choose whether or not you’re an emotional person or a rational person. You get to set your own standards for behavior, and you get to decide what kind of person you want to be.


Personally, I set very high standards for myself, but do I always live up to them?


Hell no.


You might be surprised at how often I disappoint myself. But that’s ok because disappointment is temporary. Failure is temporary. Weakness and deficiency are temporary, just like emotions are temporary.


As long as I’m on track to move from a position of weakness and deficiency towards a position of strength, I’m good.


So when I’m feeling down, or nervous, or angry, or hungry (that’s an emotion too, right?), I try my best to keep it to myself. 


Because it’s nobody else’s business what’s going on with my stupid fleeting emotions, it’s nobody else’s responsibility or burden, only mine.


And I can deal with that on my own.


Should the day arise when I can’t deal with it on my own, then I’ll speak up and reach out to someone I can trust.


But not until I’ve tried to deal with it alone first.


Now, that’s not the same as bottling up your problems and hoping they’ll go away. Problems have to be dealt with, and demons must be confronted. But that’s a private matter, not something I share with other people.


Luckily (or perhaps by design), I’ve never had what you might call a “mental health problem” in my life, never been depressed, never felt despair, never suffered from nihilism or lack of meaning. 


That doesn’t mean I‘ve never been down, because I’ve been down a lot. I’m only human, and my sensitive little writer’s heart bleeds, perhaps, more than tougher men’s do. But I never stay down for long. 


Because what kind of life would that be? To be always at the mercy of your emotions, to be a victim of fate, to suffer because you can’t accept the facts of reality. That all sounds like foolishness to me. And the tendency to indulge overmuch in one’s feelings is the mark of a self-centered, conceited fool.


We’ll all have problems in our lives, and some of those problems will be the result of mental disorders. If you’ve got one of those mental disorders, then you’d better get to work on fixing it or adapting to live with it because otherwise, your life will be hell. You’ve got my sympathy, but only a little. 


Keep in mind, though, that many of what we call “mental health problems” are not caused by some cruel chemical imbalance in the brain for which there’s no remedy except drugs. Sure, biological deficiencies and genetic issues are a big problem, but a lot of people’s psychological problems, including depression, are caused by simple unhealthy lifestyle habits.


For example, the following are significant causes of depression and anxiety: 


Not getting enough sleep,

Negative relationships,

Isolation and loneliness,

Poor diet,

Lack of exercise,

No perceived purpose or meaning in life,

High-stress jobs,

Health changes from aging,


For that matter, these common problems cause misery in almost everyone, not just people with mental health problems. People need to have meaningful roles, positive relationships, good health, self-esteem, and a job to do. Without these things, we fall apart from the inside out, and our emotions and negative feelings take control of us.


And that’s great news. Why? Because we can control everything on that list. We can choose to prioritize our health, eat well, work out, sleep right, build relationships, pursue meaningful goals, reach out and engage with other people. We can choose to prioritize positive action over negative emotion. We can control so many of the factors which affect our state of mind that a few minor lifestyle adjustments could completely change our psyche for the better. For most people, your destiny is in your own hands. All you’ve got to do to live well and “feel” well is everything you can do, everything that’s in your power to improve your lot in life.


If that’s not enough and you’re still suffering, then maybe you should consider the pills or the therapy. Then perhaps you’ve got a problem with your software. But if it were me, I’d rule out the things that are in your control before I start writing myself off as damaged or a victim.


Sounds easy when I lay it out like that, right? 


“Just do the right thing all time, and you’ll feel great.”


But that’s not what I’m saying. I’m not an idiot. I know it’s not that easy for everyone. For me, it hasn’t been a problem, but for you, it might be. I get that.


But that doesn’t change a damn thing. 


It might be a lot more difficult for you to get your mind straight than it is for me or someone else, but that’s just the way it is. You’ve got to play with the hand you’ve been dealt in life. You can check out if you don’t like it, but that always does more harm than good, and it’s the coward’s choice.


I know it ain’t easy. I know people out there have it a lot worse than me. I’m glad I got dealt a good hand. But that doesn’t change the fact that you can probably make a lot of your problems go away by changing the way you live.


You can protest that you’ve got this or that reason to suffer, but I’ll only listen to that for so long before I ask you,


“What are you doing about it?”


If you’re emotional and know that it’s a problem, what are you doing about it?


If you’re depressed, and it’s ruining your life, what are you doing about it?


If you have anger issues, and you keep losing your head, what are you doing about it?


If you want to die, and you’re thinking of going through with it, what are you going to do?


There’s never an easy choice when we’re talking about emotions because they’re so powerful and spontaneous that it can be hard to keep up, but the fact that it’s difficult to control your mind doesn’t excuse you from making an effort.


When I was a younger man, I was a lot more emotional than I am now, but even despite that fact, I still wasn’t what you’d call an emotional guy. For as long as I can remember, people have always told me that I’m a calm and collected sort of character.


Even though I didn’t always have a tight grip on my feelings, I’ve always practiced personal restraint. It’s a product of my childhood. I spent a lot of time alone with few friends and few mentors. Anytime I displayed emotion, it almost always made things worse. So I got a handle on my feelings and learned to control them. I don’t repress them. I just control them because it’s always better to
be in control of yourself than to be at the mercy of your subconscious mind. 


I’ve never wanted to be the reactive or unpredictable one. I like being stoic, predictable, and reliable. 


But there are times when you’ve got to cut loose and let the mind run its course. You can’t be grim and stolid every moment of your life, so you’ve got to build a mechanism for emotional release into your life. 


What that should look like will vary from person to person. For me, I like to get physical. I lift weights, run, box, and do hard manual labor. I listen to heavy music and get into my body for a time. You might be surprised at how many demons you can exorcise with a punching bag or a barbell. I also write to consolidate my thoughts and understand my emotions.


But for you, it could be something different. Maybe you like to paint. Maybe you like to talk to people about your thoughts and feelings. Whatever. You do you, as long as it works. But those moments of release ought to be structured and carefully regulated so that you don’t get carried away with yourself and fall into bad habits.


Audit yourself. 


Investigate whether your habits and routines improve or worsen your mental state. Every time you interact with someone, ask yourself if they improve or detract from your mood. Every time you watch the news or a TV show, ask yourself if you feel better or worse about yourself and the world after you’ve watched it. Every day you wake up, ask yourself if you might feel better by eating a better breakfast. Every night you lie down to sleep, ask yourself if you should have gone to bed earlier or later. 


Wherever you find the negativity, change. Improve. When you find the pain, you find the problem. But don’t waste any time thinking about the right thing to do. If you find a problem in your life, go with your instinct. You’re a lot smarter than you might give yourself credit for. Try something new. If you feel no different, or feel worse, try something else. Keep trying until you find what works for you, and never give up.


If you still have problems with your emotions after all that self-critique and lifestyle change, then maybe you need the pills or the treatment. But even if you do, that doesn’t give you an excuse to let your emotions take control. You’re responsible for your life and your behavior. So if you have a problem, it’s your responsibility to fix it, and nobody else’s.


This is the process I go through on a regular basis. I’m a pretty typical man when it comes to solving problems: a stereotype, almost. When I identify a problem, I immediately make a plan to fix it. Sometimes too quickly, before I even fully understand the problem. That can make things worse, but it’s how I operate.


It’s in my nature to solve problems if I can. Sometimes my attempts to solve a problem create more problems. Then I’ve got to think of even more solutions. That sucks, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. I love when life (or my own mind) gives me problems because it gives me something worthwhile and meaningful to do.


I find meaning in fixing things and imposing order upon chaos.


I’ve been living like this for most of my life and I’ve never had a problem with it. The times when I did have problems, when I created problems for myself and others, were times when I let my emotions take control.


So I don’t let them take control, not if I can prevent it, and I’m a lot more functional than most people I know. That’s not my way of bragging. None of this is supposed to make me sound like a tough-guy or a man of wisdom, because I’m pretty soft and pretty foolish, and I know it. But this is how I think.


I recommend you try it. Next time you sense a feeling taking hold of you, whether it’s fear or sorrow or anger, recognize it for what it is and then just ignore it.


Remember that it’s not important unless you make it important. 


But if you do make it important, you’re giving it control over you, and it will usually wreak havoc.


Conversely, when you feel something positive and affirming, seize hold of it and ride that wave for as long as you can. I never hold back a laugh or a smile, I let those emotions run free.


Don’t let your primitive monkey-mind sabotage your life because you were too lazy or too inept to put it in its place and assume command of your own life.


This is what’s worked for me. What works for you might be different, but I’d recommend you give it a try and see if it makes a difference.


I almost wrote, “see how it makes you feel,” but as I’ve already said, it doesn’t matter how it makes you feel.


All that matters is what you do with what you feel.


There’s a lot of things beyond your control, and emotions will come and go of their own accord no matter what you do. You can’t stop that, and you shouldn’t want to. But you’ve got the choice about what you do with those emotions. There’s a lot you can’t control, but you can completely control the most important thing: what you choose to do.


So I’d advise you to choose consistency, self-control, stoic determination, and the pursuit of ever-higher standards of personal behavior rather than being at the mercy of how you feel from moment to moment. You might never achieve the standard you set for yourself, but the pursuit of that ideal will be worthwhile in itself.


This doesn’t mean a life devoid of emotion, quite the opposite in fact. When you’ve got the confidence of someone who knows they can control themselves, your emotions become an ally rather than an antagonist. You can work with how you feel, rather than being the puppet of subconscious forces beyond your control. You can release your emotions when you need to, how you need to, or you can choose not to release them at all.


The choice is yours, because you’re in control. But only if you learn to control yourself no matter how you feel. That’s great news, if you ask me. It means we’re not destined to suffer unless we choose to suffer.


I’m sure I’ll draw a lot of heat with these thoughts, but that’s cool. If you don’t like my method, you keep on doing things your way. I’m not claiming to have the answers for anyone but myself. But what I’ve outlined in this essay is how I operate, and it’s worked pretty well for me. It might work for you too if you give it a chance.

The Striker and How The Dagda Got His Staff

“I am Aed Abaid of Es Ruad, also called Ruad Rofhessa and Eochaid Ollathair. These are my names. I am the Good God, a druid of the Tuatha Dé Danann. An Dagda.”


And there he was, An Dagda, with Cermait Milbél, one of his sons, on his back. Cermait had fallen in combat to the frenzy of Lugh, High King of the Tuatha Dé, for the sake of a woman’s embrace. The woman was Buach, the wife of Lugh. As it often happens with the wives of great men, she endured much loneliness and often turned in the dark hours to her husband’s pillow, only to find it cold and bare.


So Cermait, the Dagda’s son, lay with her, because of which Cermait was slain by Lugh. The Dagda considered his vast horde of mystical knowledge, then he surrounded Cermait’s body with herbs and began chanting such spells as he knew.


This done, he lifted Cermait and, bearing the lifeless body of his son upon his back, he searched the world until he came to the far eastern realms of the Earth.
 In that strange and distant land, he met three men going along the road carrying three treasures. The Dagda conversed with them, and they said;


“We three are the sons of one father and mother, and we are sharing our father’s treasures, as is right for sons to do.”


”What treasures have ye?” asked the Dagda.


“A great shirt and a staff and a cloak,” said they.


“What virtues have these to be considered treasures?” said the Dagda.


“This great staff here,” said the eldest of them, “has a smooth end and a rough end. The rough slays the living, and the smooth revives the dead.”


“What of the shirt and the cloak?” said the Dagda, “What are their virtues?”


“He who wears the cloak may take on any shape, form, figure, or color that he chooses. As for the one who wears the shirt, grief or sickness could never touch the skin that it covers.”


“Truly?” said he.


“Very truly,” said they.


“Put the staff in my hand,” said the Dagda.


Then the youngest of them lent him the staff, for the Dagda had been good company as he almost always was. Then, with great speed, he put the rough end upon them thrice, and they fell dead in the road.


After this, he pressed the smooth end upon his son’s breast, and the lad arose in the fullness of his strength and health. Cermait put his hands on his face like one waking early from a dream, then rose and looked at the three dead men that lay before him.


“Who are these three dead men in our path?” said Cermait to his father.


“Three men that I met,” said the Dagda, “sharing their father’s treasures. They lent me this staff. I slew them with one end and brought yourself to life with the other end.”


“It would be a sad story to tell at a feast,” said Cermait, “if they should not be given back their lives by that which caused me to live.”


The Dagda agreed and put the smooth end of the staff upon them, and the three brothers arose in the fullness of their health and strength.


“Do ye know that ye had been slain,” said the Dagda, “with your father’s staff?”


“We know it,” said they, “and you have taken an unfair advantage of us.”


“I have knowledge of your staff and its virtues,” said the Dagda, “and I have given you your three lives when I might have kept them. Now lend me the staff to take to my home far to the west of this land.”


“What bond have we that our father’s staff will ever come back to us?”


“The sun and moon, land and sea, provided that I might slay foes and give life to friends with its magic.”


Under that condition, a loan of the staff was given to him.


“How shall we share the treasures we have?” said they. “For we are three sons, but only two treasures remain to us.”


“Two of you must bear the treasures and one without any until his turn come round at some predetermined interval until the staff is returned to you.”


Then he brought that staff away and went home with his son. With it, he gave death to his foes and life to his friends.


In time, he took the kingship of his people by means of that staff.


However, the days of the Dagda’s kingship were numbered, as are the days of all things, and the time would come where the Dagda’s kingship would be ended and new kings would take his place.


Indeed time has been so cruel to the Dagda and his sons and all of that fair Tribe that those of us now living would hardly ever know that they lived at all were it not for the old tales that we tell.


I originally posted this little tale to my old blog, Unchaining The Titan, while it was still active.


This is my interpretation of an obscure story titled “How The Dagda Got His Staff” from the Yellow Book Of Lecan manuscript. It was written in Old Irish, and like all Old Irish literature, it rarely gets much attention.


But something in it spoke to people.


It was very well received, and people told me how much they enjoyed reading it, even though many of them had no prior knowledge of Irish myth and some had never heard of An Dagda or his son Cermait.


I’ve always been fascinated by the character of Dagda because of his many parallels to the Indo-European figure of The Striker.


The Striker is a character who appears in many Indo-European mythologies and usually bears similar characteristics.


The Striker wields a fiersome club or hammer with the power of life and death and upon which oaths are sworn. He also goes out beyond the borders of his people and slays his enemies. One of his primary foes is often a great sea beast like a dragon or sea-snake or, in Dagda’s case, a kind of octopus. In the Indo-European worldview, The Striker is typically either a son or an ally of the Sky Father character.


The Striker, in his many aspects, has always appealed to me for obvious reasons.


Linguists have reconstructed the Proto-Indo-European root word per-, which means “to strike,” and also perkus, which means “the oak tree.” Many Striker figures in Western Indo-European cultures have names that contain versions of this root word per-, such as the Slavic God Perun, Belarusian Piarun, Lithuanian Perkunas, Norse Fjorgyn, who was the mother of Thor, and possibly Erc Mac Cairpri in Irish (though this last connection is tenuous).


However, the most well-known personification of The Striker in modern culture is Thor, the Norse God who was a son of Odin. Thor wielded a hammer with which he slew his people’s enemies and which also had the power to bring the dead back to life, as he did with his own goats. The hammer was used to bless marriages and funerals and possibly to seal oaths and agreements. With his hammer, Thor fought and eventually slew the great sea-serpent Jormungand. All of this is a clear parallel to other Striker figures from different cultures.


Strikers are usually associated with lightning and mountains and sometimes oak trees, for obvious reasons. Lightning strikes mountaintops and tall oak trees more often, and so these can be said to be the domain of The Striker.


So the root words per and perkus gave rise to various European deities whose names were probably derived from some pre-existing Striker, and so too is the name of the Dagda. One of his names is Cercce. Old Irish had no letter P, so the word was likely adapted into a local variant with a C instead of a P. But even despite these many apparent connections to The Striker, there’s more to old Dagda than meets the eye.


You see, the Dagda is also a parallel for the Indo-European Sky Father as well as his son, The Striker. Dagda’s name means both Good God and Shining or Bright God. The Indo-European Sky Father figure is always associated with the bright daylight sky. His name has been reconstructed by linguists as Dyaus Phter, meaning “Father God of The Daylight Sky.”


Another of Dagda’s names is Ollathair, which means Great Father and is cognate with the Norse God Odin’s name of Allfather. There are other tales that better illustrate Dagda in his role of father, king, and leader of his people than the story of how he got his staff, but it’s still fascinating that this one figure can have so many connections to prehistoric deities.


It’s important to note that we don’t know much for sure about the Proto-Indo-European peoples. They wrote nothing down, left little archaeological evidence, and weren’t written about by any contemporaries. But yet we know from linguistic and genetic evidence that their culture spread out from the Eastern steppes into Europe and down into Iran and India. Wherever they went, they carried their culture and established themselves as the dominant people across a vast territory, which stills carries on evolved forms of their legacy to this day. Just as the Indo-Europeans can be easily recognized in Indian culture, they can also be identified in Irish culture and myth.


So in this jovial character called Dagda by the Irish, we have two men, one young and one old.


A Striker and a Father.


The Striker is a young man, a warrior with explosive and expansive energy. He goes out beyond the boundaries of the known world into unfamiliar and hostile territory, risks his neck, slays foes and monsters, and he returns with great treasures that are a blessing to his people.


The Sky Father is an older man, wise and stern and judgmental. He is harsh and holds his people to high standards as he looks down from heaven. He rules over and establishes order in his domain so that his people are protected from chaos. When necessary, he sends his sons out to confront that chaos before it takes root in his kingdom.


These ancient and ethereal archetypes are embodied, however imperfectly, in the Irish Dagda. It’s unclear to what extent the pre-Christian Irish knew about or revered the Dagda or if they even worshipped him at all.


But there has to be something to these stories. They can’t be complete fabrications of Christian scribes and secular poets. There are too many parallels, too many connections to stories from across the European mythosphere, which carry echoes of older tales and older gods.


Upon these stories lie the fingerprints of our ancestors, our great fathers and mothers who preceded us by many thousands of years. We can never know what they thought or who they worshipped and how, but we can find traces. Those remnants of their identity and their worldview can shine a light upon who we are today.


Who are we, those of us who have inherited the cultures passed down from our Indo-European forefathers from out of time immemorial?


We are Strikers and Fathers.


We are the ones who go out beyond the borders of safety to confront chaos at its source. We protect what is ours, and we establish order for the ones we love while also nurturing a new generation of Strikers and Fathers.


That is the ideal we have to live up to. It isn’t easy, but it’s a noble goal.


How can we embody The Striker and The Sky Father in our daily lives?


Seek out the chaos in your life and impose order upon it, then maintain that order so that future generations can grow and prosper. Teach your children to be strong and wise and kind. Destroy anything that threatens the security of your ordered domain. Seek out monsters and demons and foes to crush, not because you hate them, but because your job is to protect what is yours.


That all sounds great on paper, of course, but how are we modern men who live soft lives of comfort to live up to this brutal and, perhaps, archaic ideal?


Well, chaos embodies itself in many forms, not just in monsters and sea demons. We’ve all got a little chaos in our lives, a little doubt and stress and vulnerability. Identify where the cracks are in your life. Is your marriage secure? Are your children protected? Will they grow up to be strong and wise? 


Are you financially stable? Are you fat or sick? Do you need more training or experience?


Small daily acts which promote order and reduce the chaos in your life can add up over time to great things. Even little things like fixing that leaky pipe in your house before it becomes a major problem is an act of establishing order. That leak could become, in time, a flood that destroys your home and puts your family on the street in the night, where more sinister monsters lurk.


So look for the chaos, the uncertainty in your life. Wrestle with that chaos and impose your will upon it. Then nurture your people and family so that they too will grow to grapple with chaos.


Learn to love the struggle and hardship of daily life because in those struggles lie the opportunity to embody Striker and Father energy which will be a blessing on you and those you love.


This is the legacy you have inherited from your Indo-European forefathers and foremothers, and this is just one of the many lessons we can learn from studying old myths like the seemingly innocuous story of how The Dagda got his staff.

Believe In Dynamite

I believe in order. I believe in progress. I believe in being a builder, a gardener, a custodian, a protector of what’s already been accomplished.

Most of the time.

But sometimes, when the situation calls for it, I believe in dynamite.

I believe that, now and then, we must tear down old structures and old systems of being for the sake of creating something new. There are times when you can’t build upon the foundations of what already exists. You have to destroy everything and start again.

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