By Tamra Wade
Call me if you need anything. I am here for you. I will say a prayer. I am thinking about you. Sending my love.
We’ve all said these things.
I know when I’ve said them my intention was in the right place. My wish was to be helpful, to provide a resource and to make it known the receiver know they weren’t alone.
The reality is when we need help we tend not to ask for it.
Pride can get in the way. Perceived social stigma wants us to believe we are weak or less than if we ask for help. Often when we are in the middle of an event it is just too hard to explain the situation we are in and ask for help.
In some cases, it’s habit.
We plow through life like a bull without horns down pawing and snorting. I have often said to myself, “Just get through it. Stop complaining.” This does work for mild occurrences. But why push and strain when getting help might actually make the burden lighter, it might actually help change your perspective and it will help building a habit of getting help earlier on.
Another reality is when I need help, I might deny it.
I might not be able to face my own problems. It might be too much to face. I might be in denial. I might put on a fake front so I didn’t have to expend any additional energy explaining how and why I am in bad shape. I actually might not even know I need help from pretending and forcing myself to appear well.
By nature, humans are very social animals. Even if you are an introvert, you still need and desire connection and to feel a sense belonging. It’s how we are wired.
When we struggle with problems it can feel like we are the only one who has ever felt this way or that no one could possibly understand. This and other similar feelings all humans experience is from the large set of cognitive bias’ humans are also hard wired with.
This particular bias is called False Uniqueness Effect. By the way, incase you want the textbook’s definition her it is. Literally this definition is from my social psychology textbook Social Psychology and Human Nature Third edition written by Roy F. Baumeister and Brad J. Bushman p.179, “False Uniqueness Effect, the tendency to underestimate the number of other people who share one’s most prized characteristics and abilities.” This bias applies to the time we think that no one has ever felt the way we feel or no one has ever done the things we have done. It is a false sense of uniqueness.
So how do we get the help we need?
Think of a person you trust. We’ll talk about what to do if you don’t readily have a person your trust. Visualize talking with this person. Think of what you might say. Remember this is a person you trust. This person is going to receive you in any shape you are in. This person wants to help and will help you.
You can start your conversation with your trusted person by saying something like, “Hey. Do you have a moment? I need to get your perspective.” This will start your conversation. You know what will happen next? Your trusted person will receive your with compassion and empathy. They will listen to you and offer support, if only to listen.
Here is the kicker. When your problem is met with compassion and empathy, it starts to lose it’s power. Just the simple, yet difficult, task of physically saying the words out loud, will defuse the hold your problem has on you.
What do you do when you don’t readily have a trusted person to turn to? This is tricky, but there are things you can do. I have a few suggestions of things that I have used in the past during times of being very alone and isolated. These things provided relief and an outlet. These things can be done regardless if you have trusted resources in your life or not.
These are things that all of us can add to our self care tool box.
This is something that you can do alone in the privacy of your living space. If you are worried that someone you don’t trust might find your writing, get a small safe you can lock up. They sell them at big box stores for around $35-$50 depending on size. If that isn’t an option, make your writing less literal. I often wrote poetry or in a code I could decode, but no one else would understand.
The goal is to write freely. Allow yourself to really write it out. You will be able to find relief in releasing some of the weight in your journal. Additionally, you will be able to go back to your writing and gain perspective when the emotions have released you slightly – and they will.
There are many specific toll free numbers you can call to talk with trained professionals. I will list a few at the bottom of this post. Use these numbers to call and connect with another human beings. The people you connect with will have advice, resources, and guidance to help you in the moment and to build a plan to help you through your situation.
Get to a support group
I realize that this is a lot. I am just putting it out there as a viable option. Usually support groups are lead by a licensed counselor and are far less expensive than solo therapy sessions. They are also where I started in my walk with working with professionals. I found that group therapy is a great place to listen to others’ stories. You will see yourself in their stories and they will see themselves in yours. This exchange is very powerful and validating. It’s worth the effort. Please consider it as a tool you can use in your sorting out issues and long term recovery.
Find a licensed therapist
Meet with one on one. Also a lot, I know. I have found this to be one of the best tools in my tool box. It is worth the effort. This is a person you will need to investigate to see if you and they are a good match. Just like finding any professional, do your research. Find a therapist that fits with your personality and beliefs. Like medical doctors, licensed therapists are practising. Find one that will be able to help you with your specific needs and goals. You will be able to work with this person as a trusted resources. It’s a very powerful tool.
Take it slowly
Find a tools that will aid you as you learn how to get the help you need and desire. Spend time thinking about your situation, journalling and see if you can organize your thoughts. Getting your thoughts organized is a great way to asses if you need help and if so, what type of help will serve you best.
Lastly, I want to leave you with this. You deserve help. A lot of times people shy away from getting help because they believe that they don’t deserve to receive help. Guilt and/or shame may have crept in causing a shrinking from connection. Let me be the voice in your mind, you deserve help. You deserve care. You are worthy of love and belonging. You deserve relief. I know this because I know this about myself and what is in me is also in you.
You deserve to receive help. Here are some additional resources to aid in your discovery.
Call 800.656.4673 (800.656.HOPE)
Online they have live chat function
RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network) is the nation’s largest anti-sexual violence organization. RAINN created and operates the National Sexual Assault Hotline (800.656.HOPE) in partnership with more than 1,000 local sexual assault service providers across the country and operates the DoD Safe Helpline for the Department of Defense. RAINN also carries out programs to prevent sexual violence, help victims, and ensure that perpetrators are brought to justice.
Online they have a live chat function
The Lifeline provides 24/7, free and confidential support for people in distress, prevention and crisis resources for you or your loved ones, and best practices for professionals.
Online they have a live chat function
Operating around the clock, seven days a week, confidential and free of cost, the National Domestic Violence Hotline provides lifesaving tools and immediate support to enable victims to find safety and live lives free of abuse.Callers to The Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) can expect highly trained, experienced advocates to offer compassionate support, crisis intervention information and referral services in more than 200 languages. Visitors to this site can find information about domestic violence, safety planning, local resources and ways to support the organization.
The Hotline is part of the largest nationwide network of programs and expert resources and regularly shares insight about domestic violence with government officials, law enforcement agencies, media and the general public. The National Domestic Violence Hotline is a non-profit organization established in 1996 as a component of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA).
Finding a Therapist:
How to Find a Therapist WebMd