It’s not easy being a highly sensitive man. The modern world teaches men that showing emotions and tears is a weakness. If you get emotional in front of someone, you are labeled as weird and weak. I should know.
High expectations for a highly sensitive man
I grew up in a culture where men were taught to never show emotions or feelings of any kind. If you did that just once, you would face not just mockery, but also bullying. But this is not unique to where I lived as a kid. It’s a global phenomenon.
Even as a kid, a highly sensitive man is called out for his care and concern. It only gets worse during the teen years. I have never hidden that I was bullied for a lot of my life for feeling too much. Bullying is not necessarily just physical. It can come from mere words too.
The highly sensitive man is constantly chastised for showing that caring nature that this world desperately needs right now. We hear the words: “Man up!”, “Get over it”, or even “Men don’t cry”. The term alpha male refers to the men who are strong, dominant, and never shed tears.
Today’s highly sensitive men are expected to behave like robots. We are taught that it’s wrong to shed a tear, have anxiety, or depression. And you know what’s the worst part?
When a highly sensitive man wants to cry or be there for the ones who need him, but instead caves under the pressure of society, and distances himself.
It’s not weak to care and be sensitive
I have no idea where people got the idea that it’s a weakness to show concern. Ever since my relocation to another continent, I must have cried so many times I lost count. Those who know me understand my emotional triggers. You know that I often show emotions. As a highly sensitive man, I’ll go against what the modern world says you need to do, and let myself cry it out.
How many times have you heard that you need to be strong for those around you? This is one of the most devastating sentences men hear today. It’s not weak to show emotions and to care deeply. Quite the opposite. It’s one of the greatest feats of strength.
I recently had a situation where I couldn’t hold it within me any longer, so I simply broke. As a highly sensitive man, you’ll know what I’m talking about here. I had a difficult time, and I let my emotions lead the way. Luckily, my best friend was there to listen and put my mind at ease.
I know that a lot of you don’t always have that support. However, you are much stronger than you think. Here are just a few of your strengths as a highly sensitive man.
Amazing Strengths of the Highly Sensitive Man
1. Our empathy heals.
Empathy is a powerful force by itself. But when it comes from a highly sensitive man, it goes beyond anything you’ve ever experienced before. Because we know how it feels to be isolated and lonely, we will do everything in our power to be there whenever you need us.
2. Showing emotions helps others do the same.
When people see you showing your inner self, vulnerable and in the open, you are unconsciously giving them permission to do the same. This is why showing who you are makes such a difference with everyone around you.
3. Tears are a sign of courage.
I won’t say much here, because it’s self-explanatory. Tears are a clear sign that despite all the bad, you have the strength to open up and let it out.
Here are 9 more superpowers of highly sensitive people.
There’s a wonderful quote from famous motivational speaker Nick Vujicic that I always go back to when I need comfort:
“Tears clean the windows of your soul. That’s why you feel good after crying.”
In all honesty, I was already crying during the first half of writing this article. I can’t help it. I am a highly sensitive man and I don’t feel ashamed to admit that, and neither should you.
You don’t have to hold back how you feel. The greatest strength a highly sensitive man has is the ability to go against the crowd’s expectations and show his heart and soul, right there and then, in the open.
This world needs your care. It needs your empathy, because it heals. You are a highly sensitive man, be proud of yourself. I know I am.
Great article, Marko! You are 100% right about all of that. The world needs HSP men more than ever right now. Keep up the good work!
Thank you so much Michael for your kind words, really! 🙂
What you wrote is difficult to untangle and address because holistically speaking, this “Male Sensitivity” dynamic is a very human one. The dynamic includes our culture, history…how we perceive and what we learned (Our conditioning) with regard to the matter. None of it can be helped really. “It is what it is.” Being male under the typical male edics is no joke.
To add to the very male vernaculars you mentioned, here’s one I totally used to despise…”Suck it up.” LOL. It’s funny to hear this, but it’s no fun being the sensitive one who already has “Sucked it up,” and being told this implies that we have to suck up even more. It’s maddening.
I am a Highly Sensitive Person, too. I am an INFJ just like you. Fortunately, I have a high degree of fairness and justice. I also have passion, understanding…discernment! I have empathy in spades! This in mind, being a HSP and an INFJ, I’m aware of human conditions to a pretty fair extent, so I know there are more ways then tears to express this “Sensitivity.” My particular venue is anger (though I can cry easily hearing a song, a poem, thinking beautiful or sad thoughts…during distress and overwhelm, yes!).
Having anger as my primary go to has landed me in so much trouble and turmoil. It causes a great deal of fear in those in observation. Oddly…anger almost always stems from some sort of fear. That said, I guess it would be fair to say I have been a fearful person throughout most of my life. I have been…and still am. That’s just who I am.
One thing I’ve come to recognize and value about being a fearful and HSP is that it requires a great deal of courage to keep moving in this venue of being a HSP. Courage is a great virtue (though pretty darn stressful). When I’m bullied…I bully back. If there is retaliation, I up the anti! When it stops…I’m totally open to mutual redemption and forgiveness so long as I get that the bully has a full measure of how far my passions, love of self harmony and peace will take me (and them with me if they dare). For those that stop the BS…they’ll have a friend in me. If they don’t…woe to them (and always by proxy, me along with them).
As I say this, I want to clarify something: For all this posturing, there is a terrible consequence…a price to pay. Perceiving fear and invoking fear when I respond this way. AND BEING A FAIRLY POWERFUL EMPATH…I get hit with the double whammy of it! I feel their pain and distress as mine is animated into actions that preserve me and what I believe in (fairness…justice…compassion). And knowing I’ve just trampled upon another’s (even when they are bullying)…I do my best to do no more than they’ve done to me with a hope it will trigger their own empathy and sense…awareness of a common ability to be fair…OR SUFFER the same fate as me; being an ugly jerk with a mean streak if I’m messed with.
It’s a very very stressful way to be, and it’s probably just as stressful as being bullied without a strong response to repell…and just get run over…which I hate to experience and equally hate to be witness to of anyone where ever I might be.
So, I’ve spent a life time learning through many trial and errors to be balanced; balanced in my ability and willingness to be vulnerable (which is a super power) and being courageous, strong and willing to set my own terms and boundaries. Is it easy? NO! It’s a life long endeavor which I am resigned to. It’s how I have survived being highly sensitive.
I’m not saying it’s the right way (God only knows that sometimes…I’d rather it just be so that people will let me be vulnerable, open…thoughtful…kind and compassionate without any penalty of being run over). The way I do what I do…it’s just me…it’s my way of doing things combined with how everyone else does things their way. We all are on a learning path with regard to how we are and likely with an intention to evolve it into it’s best expression so other’s can, also, learn a thing or two (God only knows I’ve learned so much of how I can balance myself through what others can teach me of how they do the same even as they are SO VERY DIFFERENT THEN ME).
Thanks for sharing, Marko! I value and honor your strength and life lessons…and your willingness to share your wisdom garnered through your own life lessons…
Thanks for sharing all this, Ian! I’m humbled you liked the article and found it valuable, as well as that you shared your thoughts. 🙂
“We are [literally] all in this together.” It’s all human stuff. Weather man or woman (transgender…gay…queer), it’s all human stuff. Humans have emotions that we can’t necessarily control. I mean…I have never been able to control my feelings/emotions. I’ll venture to say no one really can. It would be in-human (Inhumane?) to expect people to go around in complete suppression of our nature (to have emotions and feelings).
One rule of thumb I try to stay aware of is that we have this thing called human nature. It has a light (good) and shadow (bad) side. What defines a behavior to one or the other can easily be define as what is helpful (what advances the the individual AND the collective mutually and beneficially) or NOT helpful (what is purely self severing to the detriment of the collective). Despite “Feeling or emotion,” what actions may we take that evolve the collective by these feelings/emotions?
What is good helps the collective and the self. What is bad will cause harm to more than just self. Because we are a social species, what one does affects all. That’s just how it is amongst humans.
When I remember this, I can “Act” from my highest self…my best self…anger and all (or what ever other emotion I might be feeling). Any emotion can be acted upon for the benefit of all. Learning to discern, practice and take opportunity to develop this skill is quite the challenge, but no better people to do this part of the hard work for humanity than the HSP.
God Bless us all for this responsibility.
Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts on this Ian! 🙂
Thank you for writing this article. I believe I have come to a different conclusion about the INFJ male experience. I fully understand the “emotional” ebb and flow that we experience on the back of unpredictable intervals. Some days feeling transparent and jelly-like, other times feeling knightly — unable to pinpoint who or what got us in or out of our mindset. I think we need to be very careful with how much we project into the ether about our fragility, not as an effort to reduce our vulnerability, but to avoid hindering our personal efforts to deal. Should we not voice our internal feelings? Are we not denying ourselves if we try to act any other way than precisely how we are feeling? I think we certainly need to acknowledge them to ourselves, but I don’t think everybody benefits from “extroverting” these thoughts/feelings. INFJ needs to be especially careful under what circumstances they let people in. Given the fact that we pride ourselves on being the “rock” in any given situation, we don’t need to sabotage our own plans by being overly expressive about our topsy-turvy disposition. Unfortunately (for us), we will be very hard-pressed to find somebody who will truly understand the INFJ complexity. Speaking to others usually allows us to put thoughts to words and truly understand what we actually feel. But, we need to do this in a very limited fashion. There is nothing worse than opening up to somebody and being misunderstood (this can feel like a spiritual death sentence for an INFJ). I advocate journaling as an alternate means to get in touch with the feelings we need to “label” and “grammaticize” in order to comprehend.
When you’re feeling “overly emotional” — i.e. a pleasant mix of desperation for connection and a desire to isolate, go get some exercise! It clears the mind like nothing else. Exercise to the point of feeling alive and alert — then stop. Don’t keep going too far to where you will be wiped out for the rest of the day. If the energy isn’t released (physically) into the outside world, it acidifies and corrodes us internally. There will be so much clarity on the other side of this, I promise. Try patching a dam when the water is rising above the break points — its too difficult. We need to relieve some of the pressure applied on our psyche and divert some of the water into the spillway.
Emotional Stability for the INFJ = Exercise + Meditation + Journaling
The fact that we want to help other people is a beautiful thing and not something we need to taint by being overly emotional with others; otherwise, we are essentially creating a schizoid-type INFJ persona, where we want to be seen as somebody stable but also want others to accept us when we need to “emotionally vent”. I think out of all of the types, INFJ is probably one of the best-equipped to self-deal with their issues. One of our greatest fears is LONELINESS. I advise any INFJ who feels “pressured” to speak to somebody about something they don’t particularly want to share (if you have somebody you can trust, then by all means do it), start meditating. Try a silent meditation retreat. You will rekindle your friendship with self and remember that your best friend is staring right back at you.
The INFJ male is equipped better than anybody else to be the pillar of a healthy society. Let’s not shy away from this and pretend that we are too fragile to do so. Let’s honor our gifts and uplift each other!
Thanks so much for sharing your views in detail on this KB! I appreciate that. 🙂
What a great conversation! Thanks Michaela and Marko. As a 60 year old male HSP, introvert, empath, intuit, my life has been a journey of joy, pain, and learning. I totally agree with KB in that people like us, if given the awareness and tools to understand who we are can be a benefit to the those who accept us for what we are. Very few people are allowed in my energy field because there are very few people who take the time to get past the initial reaction to me. I have built up a strong force field that repels most until I know they ‘get it’. This can be a complete stranger or someone I’ve know casually for a long time that all of a sudden understands we are similar. This is almost always women which complicates things as most have walls built up to guard against the ‘creepiness’ factor. I’ve totally accepted who I am with the help of Buddhist studies, mindfulness (thank you Jack Kornfield!), and meditation. One of my three sons is like me so I’m helping him understand what this all means. That puts perspective on how far I’ve come since I was his age. Thanks to all who responded and shared stories- we’re not alone in the club. Sometimes we’re lucky enough (like here!) to cross paths. Namaste
You are most welcome Jim! 🙂 Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts, they are so appreciated!
KB said something that really struck home about the “Defensive” nature of an INFJ personality, and this was something that really resonated with me. It’s difficult to manage when and how to discern when to let people in and when to keep them out despite the fact that I’m around people all the time in situations that are quite intimate in my work. In this, I am in witness by so many weather they are aware of my discomfort, aware of my boundary setting (passively or fairly aggressively)…weather they are aware of my triggered defenses while also striving to stay open.
KB said, “I think we need to be very careful with how much we project into the ether about our fragility, not as an effort to reduce our vulnerability, but to avoid hindering our personal efforts to deal.”
Vulnerability…Now…that’s the super secret ingredient for being an authentic person and finding the meaning of life that is so important (Essential and core) to us HSP; and to INFJs particularly. Being Authentic…and managing that without detriment (is it even possible if you want to seek the deepest meaning possible?).
People can be cruel, harsh…judgmental…critical (Critical = Kryptonite to the INFJ), and when out and about in the world…within our families, circles (as small as they are)…discerning through empathy is a real Bi’otch!
Just wanna say that as I was reading every one’s responses that I really have a tremendous empathy for every one here; each having a perspective gained and ever evolving from, by and through being a HSP and an INFJ. To you all…please accept this empathy in this really super cool space Marco and Introversion Springs has created for us to share what’s not typically easy to share because so very few really do “Get it.”
Thanks for this amazing share Ian! And for your kind, understanding words, I really appreciate them! 🙂 This safe space for all introverts and INFJs would not be possible without Michaela, who is the creator, heart, and soul of Introvert Spring. 🙂
Very Good Article. I’ve gained some confirmation on a few things I’ve experienced throughout the years. The comments of others has also helped. Nice to know I’m not alone…
Thank you so much Robert! I’m glad and humbled you like the article, and that you could relate. 🙂
Thank you for posting this Marko. I couldn’t agree more. I think it’s important to recognize it takes real strength to be vulnerable in a broken world. To even choose to see another’s pain is both brave and beautiful. I wish more people would see this and more HS men would realize their inherent value.
You are most welcome! 🙂 I fully agree, vulnerability is a gift in today’s world, it needs to be appreciated. I also hope more people will see this… Thanks for sharing your thoughts!
Thank you Marko! As a highly sensitive woman I tend to think that highly sensitive guys don’t exist, yet they’re exactly the people I want to be around, so your sharing this article is so important, to know that there are caring guys out there – for the benefit of the world, not just for me!
To anyone reading this, believe in your own light, and that light shines brighter for the tears shed, know that you deserve to be happy in this world too, and that the world is just waiting for the opportunity to reflect this back to you 🙂
Love from a well-washed heart x
You are so welcome Clare! Thank you so much for sharing this lovely comment, and for such inspirational thoughts! 🙂 Much love!