I recently came across the term,「気にはなれない」, which seems to align with the phrase "cannot bring oneself to..." in English per the following examples from jisho.org:

私は彼の話を信じる気にはなれない。 I can't bring myself to trust his story.

とてもそんな男を助けてやる気にはなれない。 I cannot bring myself to help such a man.

I know that 「気になる」is a term, but I can't tell if 「気にはなれない」should be read

  • 気 には(にわ)なれない or...
  • 気 に はなれない, as if it's the verb 離{はな}れる or 放{はな}れる

Your first guess is correct. The 「は」here is the good ol' topic marking particle. The basic form of the phrase is 「気になる」, which can mean, among other things:

to feel like (doing); to feel inclined to; to bring oneself to (do) ​usu. after a verb (WWWJDIC/jisho)

どうして君はそれを信じる気になったのか。 What led you to believe it?

「気になれない」is the negation of the potential form and a phrase in its own right, meaning, as you say, "can't bring oneself to do something", "don't feel like doing something (and can't make myself)".

「は」elevates a phrase/文節 that needs attention.


To me, this says "I can't really trust his words. I just can't." A comeback from the other party can be: "「私は」ってね". "That's you." or 「せめて彼の話を聞いてあげてほしい」"You should at least listen to what he has to say."

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    Could you comment on what the は does? My intuition tells me it softens the statement a little, but my intuition is rather unreliable. Feb 16 at 21:34
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    @user3856370 My understanding is it elevates something that needs attention and emphasis. 「マネージャはここには来ない」emphasizes both "the manager" and "here", it is not just anybody that is being talked about and it is not just any place, with the implication "Why would the manager come here?" "Why does the manager have to come here themself?"
    – Eddie Kal
    Feb 16 at 21:44
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    Hmm, well that's certainly a common use but what do you think is being emphasised? I struggle to see how it works here. Maybe because it's stuck in what is a set phrase. If I try a literal translation of 信じる気になれない it might be "I can't attain a state of mind where I believe..." so the thing being contrasted is the state of mind. This is why I thought it might be a kind of softener in this phrase because, while I can't bring my state of mind to believe, perhaps I'm implying I can believe in other ways. Very hand wavy, I know. Feb 16 at 21:49
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    @user3856370 Maybe I haven't thought this through.「気になれない」is also used, so I don't think 「は」is indispensable here. I made a stab at a literal translation in my edit to the answer: "I can't really trust his words. I just can't." You could be right. I feel like this kind of nuance is what might get me to talk out of my hat. I don't feel the addition of the particle は necessarily softens the tone, but I think I can see how I might agree with you in my answer. It's conceivable that the other party says something like "(Since you don't want to trust him), at least let him finish."
    – Eddie Kal
    Feb 16 at 21:57

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