Men should focus on being themselves and not ‘just a man’. ~ Anonymous
Historically and culturally, men have been made to believe that they need to be strong, provide for their families, never show emotions and hide all signs of weakness. Hence, there is always a lot of pressure on men to 'act tough and independent’, in all situations. Even the American Psychological Association (APA) has now begun to recognize that societal pressures placed on men could have drastic consequences for individuals as well as society. Today, men are expected to be strong, logical, self-sufficient and always in control of situations, which further reinforces them to not ask for help.
Why Might Most Men Not Ask For Help?
There are a few reasons why men might not ask for help, let’s look at them.
1. Conditioning Since Childhood
One of the biggest for them might be the fact that they are conditioned to think that asking for help is a sign of weakness. This toxic masculinity and other traditional masculine gender stereotypes in society put more pressure on men to be strong and resilient, even when they might have access to the help they need. This makes men much less likely to seek help when they’re struggling with personal and emotional issues. Men feel that “they are not supposed to seek or ask for help”.
2. Lack of Encouragement and Support
Men also don't find enough encouragement and support from the people around them to express their emotions or tune into their sensitive side and are often labelled as ‘weak’ even if they try to open up. They are often told to ‘brush off’ their emotions and be strong for the sake of their family. After all, Men don’t cry, unlike girls!
3. Fear of Judgement
When men ask for help, they are often met with scepticism or even hostility. This can be a barrier to seeking help because men may feel like they are being judged or that they are not capable of handling the situation themselves. It can also be difficult to ask for help because it may feel like admitting that you are not strong enough. However, when men ask for help, they often get the opportunity to learn and grow.
Common gender stereotypes such as “Mard ko dard nahi hota” and “Men don't cry” restrict men from seeking help even when they want to. Keeping all of this in mind, men need to understand that asking for help is not a sign of weakness.
What Should Men Keep in Mind?
Asking For Help Is Not A Sign Of Weakness, But Strength!
Virat Kohli, the Indian cricket team’s star batsman and former captain, also talked about the importance of seeking help to maintain one’s mental health. In a recent interview he said that the best advice he got from M.S. Dhoni was, “When you are expected to be strong and looked at as a strong individual, people forget to ask you how you are doing." This made him realize the importance of seeking help and how it is NOT a sign of weakness.
Asking for help shows-
That you are capable of understanding your needs and that asking for help does not mean you are incapable of handling difficult situations.
That you can take pride in your abilities and are not afraid to admit when you need assistance.
Even the best of soldiers need cover fire on the battlefield. Hence, men need to eliminate expectations of toxic masculinity, acknowledge their feelings, allow themselves to show emotions and ask for help because they are also human beings, and seeking support is as normal for you as anyone else!
Tough men show their vulnerabilities. Sounds weird?
There is something incredibly special about a man who can show his vulnerabilities. ‘Tough’ men, in particular, are often known for being able to handle themselves and their surroundings. However, there are times when they need someone to help them through a difficult situation and that's okay, isn't it? When someone can see the softer side of a tough man, it can be incredibly touching and can also be a sign of trust and understanding.
Acceptance towards needing help.
It is not always easy for men to ask for help; they often feel uncomfortable asking for it, but they must do it. If they do not feel comfortable asking for help, it will be difficult for them to get the help they need.
Men and boys need role models who tell them that it’s all right to look to friends and family members for support. It’s all right to not be able to handle something alone and ask for help. Most importantly, they should understand that it’s all right for them to seek professional help for their problems and emotional issues as well.
"Sometimes asking for help also means you are helping yourself." - Renuka Pitre.
How can reaching out, help men in distress?
As challenging as it can be to gather the courage to ask for help from family, friends, and professionals, once they do it can help them with a lot of things, some noteworthy results may include:
Reducing feelings of guilt
Increasing awareness about their own emotions
Becoming more resilient in the face of challenges
With the support of your loved ones, you don’t have to bear it all alone.
Men should focus on being themselves and not ‘just a man’.
They need to explore, understand and choose to reject traditional gender roles, and male societal expectations and work towards creating new societal norms where it's acceptable that “Mard ko bhi dard hota hai''. Patriarchy does not just affect women but also sets unrealistic and unfair rules for men too. Therefore, men also need to ‘be there for the other men in their life’ and guide them to get the help they need.
At MentAmigo we understand that it is also very important for society as a whole to break free from the shackles of traditional gender stereotypes and provide a safe place for men, where they could freely express their emotions and ask for help and all of this from the comfort of their homes because we provide you with online therapy.