As an Englishman, if I were to be stereotyped I’m sure the caricature would include a ‘stiff upper lip’ and ‘repressed emotions’. I’m not sure the former is accurate but the latter is, for me, where my stereotype is sometimes confirmed.
I am not particularly good at expressing my emotional needs or discussing my feelings. This is particularly true when I sense (mostly incorrectly) that conflict may result from me openly discussing how I feel. Avoidance of conflict is a defense mechanism that sometimes seriously inhibits my ability to express my needs.
At work, I find ways to do this quite well. It is something I have learned to do as part of my role as a developer and leader of others. In my personal life, this strategy is less easy to implement. Not expressing emotional needs can have negative consequences for one’s mental health and for the quality of one’s relationships.
Talking about my feelings will never be easy, but it can be done. When I feel it would be important to express my feelings to someone, especially to challenge their behaviour, I repeat the phrase ‘Mind The Gap‘ in my head. This is a reminder to create a gap in my mind to allow me to think about how I might express my feelings and not simply walk away having said nothing. Read this post on the DESC model for a simple process that can help when expressing feelings and pointing out behaviours in others that you find challenging.
I know this will be a lifetime journey to change a lifetime’s worth of conditioning. I also know I will be healthier and happier for it, with stronger, more fulfilling relationships.
The stereotypical Englishman is, thankfully, under threat.