Men’s Issues: I Don’t Want To Look Weak


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Nobody likes to look weak, and even worse is feeling weak. Culturally, men are trained to avoid any signs of weakness as best they can. Think about that for a second. The word fear isn’t used, but men are conditioned to fear weakness. Even more than that, we’re biologically wired to fear things we think are weak. Nobody can see us cry. No one must ever hear us ask for help. We can never let anyone challenge us, or “punk” us, or make us feel small. Because if any of that happened, we’d be weak. And weak men lose. Right? Not really. Mostly all of this is wrong.

And I’m not talking about some reverse-psychology reframing of things to make them sound tough; I’m talking about actual strength. We don’t have a clear picture of that in society today. Male role models are typically superhero muscular, handsome, and wealthy. But just think for a second about our societal role models. The action hero on the movie screen looks like a super tough dude, right? Yes, but in real life, he’s an actor. He’s part of a union, he went to drama school, and he has an agent who coaches him. The hardcore rock ‘n roll musician or tough-guy rapper? They sing and dance for a living. We get fed false icons and mixed messages about masculinity all day, every day.

This might not seem problematic at face value, but these misconceptions about masculinity and weakness are literally killing men. We can’t talk about how we feel. We can’t ask for help. We can’t be kind or turn the other cheek. This leaves us feeling constant pressure to be as impossibly tough as fictional heroes. This leaves us feeling alone, isolated, and helpless. This leaves men dying in silence. Mental and emotional health issues are real, and help exists for these issues. But so many men are conditioned to never ask for the help that could save their lives.

There’s No Shame in Asking for Help

Think about it. Would you rather look weak or be dead? Sometimes it really is that serious. Whether we are alcoholics, addicts, or have mental and emotional health issues or not, whether we are young or old, man or woman —  everybody needs help sometimes. And there is no shame in asking for it. If you are a man with alcoholism or addiction, you will need help to recover and find freedom from your disease. None of us recovered without help from a sober man in recovery, usually from many men in recovery. We simply can’t recover on our own. Yet some of us are willing to risk our lives because of how desperately we don’t want to appear weak, even to strangers.

If you look hard at that thought, it almost sounds absurd. Isn’t caring that much about how strangers view you more of a real weakness than asking for the lifesaving help you need? Isn’t it a bigger weakness to fear people seeing your emotions than the bravery and self-confidence it takes to be vulnerable with others? See, these are the mixed messages we get. Fear keeps us bottling everything up, always hiding. Strength allows us to be brave, vulnerable, and honest about how we feel because we know there is no weakness in bettering ourselves.

Put Fear Aside

Not wanting to look weak in front of others is a terrible fear, one that quite literally costs some men their lives. No one should ever live their lives strictly in fear of what other people may think. First off, we rarely know what other people think about us. Second, people don’t ever really think about us as much as we fear they do. Third and perhaps most importantly, it’s your life. You have to live it, not them. If you are dying for help, but afraid to ask because of what a neighbor or a friend might think, that’s just not a good reason to go on dying.

What we understand as weakness and what we understand as strength needs a massive overhaul in modern society. Unfortunately, we don’t have time to unpack all that here. Suffice to say that we have most of it backward. If we are struggling with alcoholism or addiction, we already know that we’re not strong enough to recover on our own, or we would have by now.

A Sign of Strength

Isn’t it a sign of strength to have the bravery to ask for the help we need? We understand our weaknesses, but we do not fear them. Instead, we are empowered to overcome them by asking for the help we need. This is the only way we recover. A lot of other parts of life could work the same, if only we let them. If we don’t know where we’re heading and we realize we’re lost, why in the world would we not pull over and ask for directions or buy a map? That’s an old male stereotype. But I’ll tell you that you get where you’re going a hell of a lot faster and more smoothly if you have the guts to ask for help. And there’s no weakness in that —  it could literally save our lives.

Alcoholism and addiction can affect anyone. This disease befalls people of any gender, race, age, nationality, belief system, or social status. Yet men who suffer from alcoholism and addiction often suffer additionally from the societal expectations put upon them. The reality is that alcoholism and addiction can kill. There is a solution, but it cannot be taken alone, and it does not work without help. Indeed, giving and receiving help are crucial ingredients in the formula for recovery. If you honestly want help, be brave enough to reach out for it. We ourselves struggled to recover from alcoholism and addiction. Once we could finally ask for help and be receptive to it, we were able to recover. We are now here to help you recover, if you are willing to earnestly ask for and take the help offered. At Jaywalker Lodge, we believe that recovery is possible for any man, no matter his story. Call us now at (866) 529-9255..

author avatar
Stefan Bate, MA, LAC, CCTP Chief Clinical Officer
Stefan Bate, BA, MA, LAC holds a Master's Degree in Applied Psychology from Regis University and is a Licensed Addiction Counselor in the state of Colorado. Stefan has wide-ranging experience in the field of addiction recovery including: working as a recovery coach, therapist, and program director.

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