Won’t You Please, Please Help Me?

Randy Flood

In 1965, a young shaggy-haired man named John from Liverpool pleaded for support in one of Rolling Stone’s top 500 Greatest Songs of All Time, Help by the Beatles. Yet today “won’t you please, please help me?” isn’t a plea you’ll likely hear from most men today. Most men don’t ask for help.

The Beatles Men Don't Ask for Help

Help, I need somebody…

The act of asking for help (seeking counseling) to many men feels like weakness – an act of going soft when the going gets tough.  Men are supposed to be sturdy as an oak, rather than propped up or supported by others.  The creed of manhood – suck it up – makes it especially hard for men to call a counselor for help.

Help, not just anybody…

Although men may prefer to not talk about it, feelings of pain, sadness, or anxiety don’t magically dissolve with the disappearance of words.  We have three choices when it comes to feelings: we either talk about them, bury them, or act them out.

Male socialization (how society trains males to be men) has given men harmful mandates and practices regarding emotional health.  Just as we used to bury hazardous waste in big holes without consideration for environmental health, burying our feelings doesn’t work well for emotional health either.  The refuse we carelessly bury shows up eventually in contaminated water and soil.  When men bury feelings it eventually spills out with violence in our homes or streets, exploded hearts, or drowning livers.

Help, you know I need someone…

We aren’t rocks unto ourselves or oak trees standing alone in an open field, we are humans. We are born into relationships — it is in our design. Yet men are given the toxic message that the pinnacle of masculinity is the achievement of rugged individualism and insularity. This achievement creates intense loneliness, and angst about asking for help with untreated mental, emotional and behavioral health problems.

When I was younger, so much younger than today…

Research shows that boys more than girls are prematurely kicked off parents’ laps and shamed for crying.  This, along with other male-specific practices, sets in motion a debilitating  pattern for males to want to make it on their own, and if they can’t, they hear the cacophonic voices in their head – you’re weak, a sissy, a loser, a mama’s boy.

The fact that women are the primary consumers of counseling services isn’t because they have more problems; it is merely because they have more permission from our society to ask for help. Asking for help isn’t a sign of weakness; it’s a sign of humanity or perhaps wisdom.

I never needed anybody’s help in anyway…

Yet men will ask for certain kinds of help. Perhaps to improve their golf swing or investment portfolio.  Why?  Because no one questions their manhood.  Remember back when society questioned a female’s womanhood? When she pursued a degree and worked outside the home?  Inasmuch as the societal landscape has changed for women in the last 50 years, the emotional landscape for men needs to change.

But now these days are gone; I’m not so self-assured…

Men can change and evolve too. They can become cross-trained, learn the language of emotions, talk about them, ask for help, and hang onto their masculinity all at the same time.  Asking for help isn’t a sign of weakness; it’s a sign of maturity, humanity, and smart emotional fitness. Yes, there is professional help for men too, when they are feeling down, lonely, or confused.

Now I find I’ve changed my mind, and opened up the doors.

The Men’s Resource Center of West Michigan offers unique and valuable services tailored to men and boys, and provides consultation and support to those people and organizations that work with them. Pick up the phone and give us a call at (616) 456-1178. You won’t lose your manhood over it, but you might discover a better life. learn more…

Another resource for learning more is the Institute for the Prevention and Treatment of Mascupathy.  This organization provides education to help boys avoid mascupathic behaviors, therapy for men to recover, and advocacy for more an egalitarian society. learn more…

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Randy Flood, MA, LLP
Evaluator and Therapist; Director and Therapist, Men’s Resource Center of West Michigan. Randy has been involved in counseling psychology since 1992 and joined the Fountain Hill Center in 2000. He believes sitting with individuals 1:1 and in groups while they share their pain, joy, fears and passions is a privilege. He believes it is soul work: the process of taking off the social mask and placing oneself deeper into vulnerability takes courage, the journey of leaving the security of the familiar patterns of thinking, feeling, and behaving to seeking new ways of living. learn more…