Help. This simple word is difficult for many individuals, an uncomfortable admission that we don’t have all of the answers and are not infallible. We feel embarrassed that we must rely on someone else, counter to the Lone Wolf persona that we, especially men, try to uphold. We can fix everything, and are effective in every situation, right?
This type of thinking is killing us.
The belief that we must accomplish everything on our own leads to isolation, which morphs into a sense of loneliness. Deborah Trout posits that feelings of isolation are often linked to mortality, and men in particular are more likely to die from suicide — to the tune of four times more likely than women. And according to Dr. George E. Murphy, women often value interdependence and and consult friends and family; men value independence and often view asking for help as weakness.
So how do we stem this epidemic? First, by acknowledging that no one can be an expert in every. single. thing. That’s a part of being human. What if our mindset shifted from insisting on becoming an expert in everything, to one of acknowledging our limitations and allowing others to do what they do best?
Put it this way: when your car is making strange noises or driving oddly, you take it to an auto technician. To an expert, since most of us aren’t equipped to fix it ourselves. So if we can do this for a mere vehicle, then why not for the more important things in our lives? Allowing a professional to help us improve our relationships, address recurring themes that cause us to stumble, and heal old wounds is a sign of care, like periodic inspections, tune ups, and sometimes a complete overhaul.
But it’s worth the cost, especially when the life we save may be our own.
- Murphy, George E. “Why women are less likely than men to commit suicide.” Comprehensive Psychiatry. 39:4, pp. 165-175. 1998. https://www.journals.elsevier.com/comprehensive-psychiatry .
- Trout, Deborah L. “The Role of Social Isolation in Suicide.” Suicide and Life-Threatening Behavior. 10:1. 1980. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/journal/1943278x .