The Truth About Men and Trust: Why Relying on Others is so Hard
A few years back, our neighbor bought her husband everything he needed to add a bench press setup to their home gym. One day, when he wasn’t home, she asked if my wife and I would help her unload her haul so she could hide it until Christmas. Naturally, when you are moving things that are designed to be heavy, it can be a bit tricky. At one point, I picked up a box of weight plates and was shuffling into the garage. Then, she looked at me and I will never forget what she asked…”Do you need some help?”
The fact that I, as a man weighing over 200 pounds, would allow this woman who may have been a buck 20 soaking wet, to help me carry these weight plates was less realistic than a real-life unicorn at that moment. Forget the machismo nonsense. My psychology would not have allowed it.
Men are notoriously infamous for not asking for help. We don’t easily trust others enough to put ourselves in the position of vulnerability required to depend on another person. Sure, we may bend the rules occasionally, but that is the exception rather than the rule. Why is that? What is it about being a man that makes trusting and depending on someone else so difficult? I have a few suggestions for you to consider.
If I were to ask you what the number one shame trigger for women is, you would likely not even hesitate before replying, “body image.” This may not be true for all women, but it is for the vast majority. What about men though? What is our number one shame trigger? Body image is a shame trigger for us, but it is not the shame trigger. Ours is the appearance of weakness. For men to trust and ask for help, we first have to acknowledge our own weakness and lack of self-efficacy.
Since we are on the topic of self-efficacy, let’s also take a moment to discuss where our self-worth comes from. Men usually do not walk around feeling worthy simply because we are us. We get our sense of self-worth from what we accomplish. Whether it is a paycheck, or how much weight we can lift. Our sense of value is tied directly to our ability to do stuff. Trusting someone else and asking for help often comes at the expense of our own sense of self-worth.
The Early Years of Problem Solving
“Quit crying. Suck it up. Be a man” are phrases we have all heard. What we may not realize is that this teaches us, as boys, that we are to be self-reliant. Because, that is what it means to be a man. Men don’t ask for directions. Men figure it out. And, if you can’t figure it out, you aren’t working hard enough. It is difficult to rewire decades of conditioning once we reach adulthood. We don’t trust people and rely on others, because we have been taught all our lives that men don’t do that.
Fixing the Problem
Getting past this mindset is founded on one simple truth: trust is an action, not a feeling. You don’t have to feel comfortable trusting someone before you do it, you just have to do it. Like going to the gym early in the morning, cleaning out your garage, or going to work when you’d rather sleep in. Trusting someone is a choice. You can choose to trust. It will probably feel horribly uncomfortable at first, but it is not impossible.
At Mind Works Counseling Services in Lubbock, TX, we specialize in providing mental health counseling services with the understanding that men are unique in how they think about the world and themselves. It is our mission to consider this when we provide our services so that we do so in a way that promotes healing in a male-friendly environment.
Learn more about the Men’s Counseling Services we offer.
Contact us to schedule an appointment or to let us answer any questions you may have.