STRESSPersonalBreaking the Boy Myth

Breaking the Boy Myth

By: Sara Westbrook

We are emotional beings no matter what our gender. It’s time to see male emotions through a different lens.

For the last 15 years, I’ve had the pleasure of presenting to many audiences — one of these audiences being young men. There is a ridiculous notion that boys don’t have many emotions and it is often seen as a girl thing. I have learned that it is a perception that couldn’t be further from the truth!

In one of my workshops, I do an exercise with boys called the “boy box,” where I ask the boys to share words or phrases they have heard that diminish their emotional state: don’t be a princess, don’t be so soft, boys don’t cry, get over it, man up, stop acting like a girl, and the list goes on. When I was finished writing all the phrases they shared they asked me to put an ”X” through the list because they wanted people to stop denying them their emotions.

My husband and I have always shared and modeled for our son the importance of feeling and expressing emotions in a healthy way. Phrases, like the ones above, tell boys that suppression is how to deal with emotions because showing emotions equals weakness. There can be long-term effects on males who try to live up to this untruth: depression, anxiety, anger, rage, shame, nightmares, trouble sleeping and substance abuse, even suicide.

Boys in my workshops have shared that they experience many emotions that are hard to keep bottled up. They start to feel disconnected from themselves and that something must be wrong with them.

I agree. I can’t imagine what pain that creates. Here’s the truth:

If you tell someone enough times that they shouldn’t feel, they don’t stop feeling; they stop sharing what they are feeling.

We are all born to feel. It’s natural. We are emotional beings no matter what our gender. It’s time to see boys’ emotions through a different lens. Instead of viewing emotions as weakness, what if we viewed it as courageous and an honor that they feel safe enough to truly show how they feel — even when it’s awkward and uncomfortable? 

“Since the day I opened up about my emotions, it’s just been so much easier to live and so much easier to enjoy life and it’s something I’m very thankful for.” – Michael Phelps 

Sara Westbrook is a professional speaker, author, singer, and creator of in-person or virtual presentations and workshops for both adults and kids, aimed at strengthening relationships, resilience, and emotional health. 

Over 500,000 people have been inspired by Sara’s enthusiasm, positivity, humor, and the transformational power of her message. When she is not presenting, writing or singing, she can be found in her kitchen whipping up yummy, healthy treats for her husband George and son Kai or at the arena, with coffee in hand, watching her son play hockey.

 To learn more, visit or

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