Updated: Aug 26
Men have bigger hearts, it’s true, the numbers do not lie. We men walk around each and every day with a bigger heart than women. You might argue that women are more compassionate, more loving, or more emotional, and you might be right. BUT, there is no arguing the fact that men’s hearts are normally between 10 and 12 ounces, while women’s hearts are between 8 and 10 ounces. Ours is bigger.
So, why don’t we use our, physically superior hearts, as much as women, emotionally speaking? Why do we men shy away from emotional thoughts and conversations, generally speaking? Why do we not take advantage of having a physically superior heart, figuratively speaking?
Both men and women are biologically built to live life through our 4 senses, cognitive, emotional, sensory, and intuitive, but many of us men, try to limit ourselves, to simply the cognitive experience. It is not an accident that this phenomenon is happening, and can be explained through social norms and expectations.
There are many stereotypes and cultural pressures on how men are supposed to act and cope in today’s society. Media Smarts came up with 6 traits that the media most often portray men as, including: the joker, the jock, the strong silent type, the big shot, the action hero, and the buffoon. These traits communicate a limited way in which we men cope, and none of these stereotypical categories portrays men using our much larger heart to deal with life events.
This kind of social communication has a devastating effect on men’s mental health and men’s overall health. According to Movember.com, men die on average, six years sooner than women, 24% of men are less likely to have visited a doctor, and over 12% of men are considered by doctors to be in poor overall health. In addition, 4 out of 5 suicides are completed by men, 90 American men die by suicide each day, and every minute of every day, somewhere in the world, a man takes his own life.
My interpretation to all of these statistics is that we men have been taught, and have developed, bad coping strategies in our life. And as we struggle through the up’s and down, the joy and the sadness, the anger and frustration, it has a tremendous negative effect. When we try to forget rather than share our story, it stresses our body, and when we try to move forward without processing the emotional part of the story, it stay’s with us and weighs us down.
Two great men in American history have given us some direction and clarity to take on this great challenge. Martin Luther King Jr. said, “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in a moment of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy”. I interpret that to mean, in part, we find someone to share your story with when things are piling up, and take the time to reflect on the emotion and meaning of the experience.
Mark Twain said, “Twenty years from now, you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do”. This is echoed again and again by people whom are close to death, and it usually has to do with taking more emotional risks within a relationship. I know it firsthand as it has happened within my own family.
Based on my interpretation, both of these admired men would tell us to Talk it Out more. They would encourage us to take more risks by sharing what is on our mind, articulate building anxieties, and allow ourselves to process sadness when it comes our way.
In the end, we are better men when we use our proverbial bigger hearts, to take on the daunting challenge of letting someone know we are struggling. We are better people to the one’s we love, when we do not have a lifetime of emotional burdens on our shoulders, and we can teach the next generations, better coping skills as they grow up to face their life challenges.
Men, we need to take a page out of the woman’s book of coping, take advantage of our big hearts, and get on with the journey of living happier, healthier, and longer. We can do this by simply talking it out, not toughing it out.