It may surprise you to learn that most of the men that I work with in my practice struggle quite a bit with their sense of self-worth. In fact, I have just accepted it as a “given” that men in general rarely have a high (or even healthy) estimation of themselves.
When I was researching for my dissertation. I asked my participants (all men, by the way) where they derived their sense of self worth. While I got a variety of answers, they all fell into one of three categories. The following are how I found that men decided their worth:
To be fair, most of the men who gave a money-related answer, equated it to their ability to provide for their families. Not a single one of my participants came off like a modern-day Flynn Ryder wanting to retire to a desert island with bags of cash to keep them warm at night. Still, it is unsettling to say the least to think about a man’s worth being determined so heavily by the number on his paycheck.
Believe it or not, men have body-image issues too. It probably comes as no surprise that many men value physical strength. However, this is not that. Some of my participants talked about how going to the gym and changing their physique helped with their sense of self-worth. Now, I am not criticizing health and fitness by any means. However, is it healthy to think of you worth in terms of your body fat percentage?
This one ties in heavily with the previous. Whether my participants were in a committed relationship or not, sex proved to be a big deal. In fact, the data suggested that some men felt more worthy when they felt more wanted. In short, whether or not their partner was interested in them sexually proved to be a compelling marker for self worth.
So, what is the problem with these findings? After all, once you think about it, there is nothing too mind boggling here. Or is there? As a counselor, this list concerns me for one reason in particular. There is nothing about this list that is stable or completely in one’s own control. Meaning, you could lose your job tomorrow. You could become ill or injured leaving you unable to take care of your physique. You could even end up in a situation in which your sex life could suffer.
So what is a guy to do? The short answer is find a way to increase your self-worth without relying on intrinsic elements like the ones listed in this blog. This could include:
Practicing self-kindness to help offset some of that nasty negative self-talk.
Practicing accurate thinking so you are more likely to see beyond what you can accomplish.
Practicing fairness with yourself. I guarantee you would never be as cruel to another man as you are to yourself.
Unfortunately, there is more to this solution than can fit on one little blog. But, this is what we at Mind Works Counseling Services are all about. Give us a call and let us walk you through the process of discovering, or re-discovering your self-worth.
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.