In my family of origin, asking for help was heavily frowned upon. I distinctly remember my father telling me, “Don’t ask anyone for help. You can’t count on anyone except yourself, so just don’t ask.” Since I’d already figured out that asking for help–or for things I needed–tended to anger my mother, I didn’t have any problem following my father’s advice.
Of course, that advice didn’t serve me. There have been many times in my life when I needed support or help and chose not to reach out, with the result that the situation worsened, or the choice of whether to get help was taken out of my hands, or I continued to struggle for years longer than I needed to. If I had just said, “I need help,” and had continued to say it on the occasions when my first attempt was brushed off, my life would have unquestionably been easier.
I’m still learning to ask for help and support when I need it, but I’ve at least learned to recognize that there isn’t anything wrong with asking. Human beings weren’t created to exist in isolation. There are reasons there are so many of us, and I believe one of those reasons is so we can support and care for each other. Unfortunately, many of us were taught not to ask for help, or even to outright deny the need.
When we’re on a healing journey, support can be crucial to making progress. Many times, professional help is also needed, and there is nothing wrong with that. In my own healing journey, the services I’ve received from professionals have at times been instrumental in helping me find my way, and I recommend that people who are working to heal from past trauma at least consider seeking that kind of help.
But support from loved ones and friends is also important, and sometimes that’s harder to ask for than professional help. We worry about burdening others, or that they’ll think less of us if they know how “messed up” we are. (We aren’t messed up, but that’s a thought that frequently wanders through my mind when I think about telling a friend I need their support.)
The thing is, a lot of us who hesitate to ask others for support don’t think twice about *giving* support to others. We don’t think less of them for asking. We don’t think they’re messed up. So what makes us different? If other people deserve support, and if there’s nothing wrong with them asking, why do we think there’s something wrong with us or that we don’t deserve it?
You do deserve support and compassion when you’re struggling, whether it’s a short-term issue that seems small to you, or an ongoing healing journey, or anything else that you have difficulty with. There is nothing wrong with reaching out. And if you’re someone who is struggling, I hope you will reach out.