The fear of appearing weak is the most frightening thing for a man to experience in our culture. Women do not want to be in relationships with men whom they judge as weak. Men will bully other men whom they insecurely judge as weak. It is no wonder that a man will do almost anything to avoid asking for directions.
If a woman feels stress or pain, she will seek out others for help or a listening ear. A man will keep his stress or pain to himself, as a rugged individualist, mostly finding a way to numb out the pain. If a woman feels sick, they will seek a healer or a solution to regain her health. A man will not seek out help until his arm is nearly cut off and dangling by a tendon, or his spouse delivers him an ultimatum to get help for his depression, or they will leave him. The man will finally figure out how much a divorce is going to cost him. At this point, a man will understand that the cost of getting help or appearing weak is much less than he can lose from a divorce. The loss of financial assets and the relationships with his spouse, children, friends, and family; is more costly than taking the chance to get some help.
I am just as guilty as any other man when seeking help in times of crisis. Eleven years ago, I had a day when my fear of seeking help nearly killed me. I was traveling on a business trip to a reception celebrating agriculture in America.
I started feeling like I was coming down with the flu; as my wife and daughter were recovering. After the reception, I drove three hours to a major client event that I was leading. I kept feeling worse, yet I thought I could push through, get home and go to bed and recover. As the two-day conference proceeded and I filled my role as the master of ceremonies, my condition continued to deteriorate. After the meeting, I drove myself four hours across the state to my home. Arriving, I went straight to bed, thinking that if I could get some sleep, I would recover from “the flu.”
The next morning, I was throwing up, and I finally gave in to my wife’s insistence that she take me to the emergency room at the Mayo Clinic. Within an hour, I was in surgery with a ruptured appendix that occurred as I was driving myself home across the state from the conference. After eighteen days in the hospital, I returned home, still a sick man. The doctors told my wife that if she had not brought me into the clinic, I would have been dead within two hours. My fear of appearing weak nearly killed me that day.
I have suggested that “if I am going to pay the tuition, I had better go to class.” If I am going to experience the pain, I had better learn something for the event. I humbly share this story to illustrate how far a man will go to avoid appearing weak to his family, work colleagues, clients, and community. I realize now that I must take the chance of appearing weak or vulnerable to thrive within this life by asking for help.
The cost of not asking can threaten ones’ life and valued relationships. It is during times of pain and struggle that men can become empowered by asking for help. Please, never give up on yourself; you are worth it!