One of the leading contributors to male depression and suicide is a sense of worthlessness which, in turn, can be generated by misconceptions around what it is to me a ‘man’. This misconception is another leading contributor to male suicide.
Believing that someone would want to do something for you is difficult for so many who are struggling with a sense of their own worthiness. Perhaps you feel that you are not worthy of anyone’s help , should never expect it or that your help is worthless.
If they are not worthy, then you are most likely destined to live in service of others.
You may believe that you are expected and need to be independent. This sense of self-sufficiency can manifest itself as a refusal to accept that you can be wrong or that you need to always be right.
These feelings are all about shame. Perhaps you have been raised to believe that being wrong, making mistakes, relying on others, letting others down and not being able to fend for yourself are all shameful.
You may have just developed your own sense of shame in growing up, or you may have suffered some kind of persecution or oppression.
You may be avoiding shame if you struggle to accept or show gratitude, or if you habitually:
have a need to be right,
have to be in control,
need to offer advice,
talk more than you listen.
The first steps towards gaining or regaining a sense are worthiness can be very simple:
Accept that you may be in the wrong and you will be grateful for what others are willing to do for you.
I am now quite comfortable with doing this.
If people think you are wrong they will help you.
They are also more likely to trust you.
Telling yourself that you may be wrong is a great way of teaching yourself that being wrong doesn’t always mean shame.
Enjoy the gift of giving. Let some one else be right for once. If you instinctively believe that you are right, try flipping it and just once telling yourself that you are wrong.
You will also be grateful for how much more you learn when you are willing to accept that you may not already know everything.
Force yourself to listen when you feel the urge to talk.
Ask someone for their advice when you feel the urge to give yours.
It’s always cool to know what others think, whether or not we feel that they are right.
Let someone else make the decisions, even if they get it wrong. People will learn more from making their own mistakes than they will ever learn from you.
Learn to take risks, little ones will do. Break a funny little habit.
I can now sit in a restaurant without having to know what is going on behind me. This means that I can now be more present for the person that I am with.
Let someone else order your meal for you and eat it regardless. I now enjoy mushrooms and shrimps which I have been avoiding for most of my life in the belief that I didn’t like them.
I know many people who instinctively blame others. They also very seldom admit to being wrong and will almost never ever apologise.
I recognise them in my family, among my friends, in the workplace and in many social situations. They come from all walks of life and I used to be just like them. I’m not perfect but I am working on being better at letting go.
The more that I let go of these habits:
the less shame I hold onto,
the more I find in my life to be grateful for, and
In 1991 I was called to the Ministry of Health. They wanted to brief me on a piece of work to do with the National Cervical Screening Campaign, about to be launched in New Zealand for the first time.
In a startling revelation, the woman with whom I was meeting for the first time, said “we know that more men die each year from prostate cancer than women die from cervical cancer. Yet, we chose to do this (the National Cervical Screening Campaign) because we know that men are less likely to make a fuss.”
Around 27 years later, here in New Zealand 50 women die each year from cervical cancer. Way too many.
600 men die of prostate cancer in New Zealand each year and we don’t make a fuss.