One of the most difficult things about asking for support is … asking. We may not trust that others truly understand our situation and will know what to do. Or, we may not know others well enough to ask for support. But one of the most heartbreaking situations is when we believe, “I will make you feel bad if I show you my struggle, and so I have to hide it.”
This needs to change. We need to realize there’s a big difference between:
“I made you sad” vs. “You’re connecting to my sadness, but are still ok.”
When we’re struggling, every task and feeling can seem overwhelming, which we then assume it is for others too. We think, “How could I possibly expose you to what I’m going through when it is so big and terrible?!”
But what we don’t realize in our fog is that others are not in it, and so it’s not big and terrible to them. Others can empathize with our feelings WITHOUT being deeply in the feelings like we are. And, being allowed to offer support can feel good and even enhance your connection as it communicates, “I trust you enough to let you in.” Lastly, telling others how we feel or what we need may be a relief to them as they now don’t have to guess, quietly worry, or wonder if their support is wanted and helpful.
Therefore, I challenge you to adopt these mantras:
If I let others help me through my struggle, it can both aid me and build the connection between us.
I trust that others can set healthy emotional boundaries and witness my big feelings without taking them on.
I believe that others do want to help but may not know how. Therefore opening up and expressing my needs will actually make it easier on them.
You may have stopped sharing vulnerable moments with someone who has lost your trust. If so, listen to that intuition and trust your judgment.
Similarly, not every well-intended person will be helpful in tough situations. Some will be great at generating ideas and taking action, but maybe not be so good at being curious or compassionate. Others may be very validating, but less good at getting you motivated in a new direction. And still others yet may have the perfect balance of wisdom and listening skills, but are terribly unreliable!
Therefore, use your judgment and be picky when it comes to choosing how to actively use your support tribe. If you’re interested in adding a therapist, here are several pro tips to get you started.