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Depression afflicts more women than it does men, but more men commit suicide than women.  It’s the Number One killer of men under fifty years old, and many of those are entrepreneurs and business leaders.

Why is that?  Is the pressure that goes along with the responsibility of decision-making to blame for the high rate of depression that leads to suicide in men?

Not necessarily. Depression can be triggered by any number of catalysts – the combination of which can produce devastating results over a long time if it’s left untreated.  It is true, though, that many businesspeople struggle with what is called “Imposter Syndrome” when it comes to their role at work and this, in turn, can create a discomfort so deep that it can lead to depression.


This is the niggling feeling that you’re not cut out to be a leader, a boss, an entrepreneur that no number of awards, handshakes and slaps on the back can chase away.  Does this sound like you?

A surprising number of us suffer from it.  Where does it come from?

As with all of these deep-seated, niggling voices, this one started a long, long time ago – possibly even in your childhood.  It’s a story that you came up with that made sense at the time but which doesn’t make sense any longer. Nonetheless, your brain is hanging onto it for dear life because believing it is a hard habit to break.  Besides, we like to be right.


For example, as a child you might have scored a goal at football one Saturday morning, have rushed home to tell your dad and were met with a curse shout or a door slamming in your face.  His bad mood was nothing to do with you but you weren’t to know that.  Your young mind wired your success together with his anger and you came to the limiting belief that success was not your right:  winning was not allowed and the feelings that went with it are to be shunned, slammed out.

If you’ve carried that with you since then, as an adult you’re going to feel naturally very conflicted every time you progress – not just in your career, but in any other area of your life, too.  It takes some rewiring to undo that narrative and replace it with another – and that’s if you can identify it in the first place.

Sometimes, the story lies so deep down that you can’t figure it out at all.


I’m a big believer in ‘talking it out’.  As men, we don’t talk things out nearly enough.  This is one of the reasons why so many of us face suicidal thoughts at some point in our lives – long past the point at which we could and should have talked to someone about our feelings.

Personally, I left it so long that I ended up on the top of the tallest building in the world, prepared to leap off it.  Had it not been for a locked fire exit, I wouldn’t have ended up talking it out at all with my friend and confidant, Alex.  He helped me to identify what I was telling myself – my key, limiting belief.

If you are struggling to identify yours, here are three ways you can help yourself to uncover it once and for all:



In another of my articles, I’ve outlined how you can find a good therapist.  Before you roll your eyes and say, “That’s not for me”, remember the stats:  suicide is the biggest killer of men under the age of fifty.  Talking it out is your first step to uncovering the limiting belief that’s holding you back and possibly causing your stress, which can lead to full-blown depression if you don’t tackle it now.

There are all sorts of different therapy approaches that can help.  One of them, “cognitive behavioural therapy” (CBT) will teach you how to make a habit of asking yourself “Where’s the evidence?” every time your limiting belief flings its untrue story at you.  You don’t believe it’s your right to be successful?  Well, where’s the evidence?

When you look at it in such bald terms, you are able as an adult to answer yourself with a truer, more convincing argument that you really do deserve success.  With that answer, you can begin the process of rewiring those neurological pathways in your brain that have led you down the wrong path since you were a youngster.



This is a fun one.  Write out your problem at the top of an A4 page and leave it open-ended for a number of answers.  For example, write “I self-sabotage my own success because …. (BLANK) ….”.  Then, in just five minutes’ of focused thought, write out all the answers you can on that page in response.

“Dad yelled at me that day when I scored my first goal”, “My successful mates are all divorced”, “Success demands about twenty hours’ of work a day”, “You have to be an author with a doctorate to be successful” … whatever comes to mind, scribble it down.  When you look over them, one or a few will ring a loud bell.



It’s usually a lot easier to identify someone else’s limiting belief than it is your own.  So, then – pretend to be someone else and look at yourself objectively.  It might feel a bit odd to step outside of yourself for a while, but you’ll get the hang of it.  Imagine yourself as another person sitting in front of you.  You have all of his circumstances at hand but none of the feelings associated with them.

Write down all the reasons why this character might be scuppering his chances … does he fear that success will make him unlikeable?  Did he see someone else’s success snatched away from them, leaving a crisis in its wake?

When you have one or a few limiting beliefs identified, you can begin the rewiring process.  Write out several affirmations that give you an alternative ending and keep them with you.

“Success means having a good work-life balance; I’m feel accomplished and grateful because I don’t have to work twenty hours a day.”

Turn your belief on its head and find the ‘plus’ within it.  It’s a matter of perspective; you have the ability to change yours.

It takes some time and a bit of courage to uncover your limiting belief and to develop a different story for yourself.  It’s worth it, though.  Life’s too short to spend it battling longstanding, low moods.  Make sure it’s not cut unnecessarily shorter.


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