“I just hate asking for help.” I hear this all the time- in my personal life, in my office from clients. And very often I am hearing this from people who really pride themselves in the support that they are able to provide to others; from people who would likely be the first ones to drop what they are doing if a loved one asks for help. They might know on an intellectual level that the support is there, but feel challenged in experiencing this support.
All of us have resources and vulnerabilities. Vulnerabilities are the stressors we carry- they can come from within or from the environment around us. There may be times when vulnerabilities are relatively low, and there may be times when vulnerabilities seem to soar. Resources can also be internal or external. Internal resources may be personal characteristics or skills you have developed- determination, empathy, resiliency. External resources might be access to healthcare or safe housing, or the relationships around you. Sometimes you may be limited in the degree that you are able to cultivate your external resources; do what you can to increase the resources in your environment, while you work towards cultivating inner resources. The degree to which you recognize and experience feeling supported by others is a way of cultivating an inner resource- the more you can feel the support around you, the better and more resourceful you will feel.
1. Know the Experience of Being Supported
Bring to mind a time in which you experienced the support of another person. Allow yourself to stay with this memory, bringing into mind the way that this support made you feel emotionally. What happens to your physical body and to your mental experience when you bring this memory into the present? Do you find yourself more at ease or more peaceful? Having an experience of feeling supported does not mean that the vulnerability or problem is gone- but we tend to feel a lot better in the presence of support because it challenges the experience of feeling alone.
2. Clarify what Support Means for You
What would it look like to feel supported in this moment? Support can look different for each person. It can look different from one situation to another for the same person. There are times when you may completely miss or dismiss the support that is around you because you are focused on what you believe that support needs to look like. This is two-fold. On the one hand, be mindful of moments of support coming from other people- even if it doesn’t look the way that you would have given support. Feel the support coming from them; this will cultivate resources. On the other hand, if you know the type of support that you are really needing in a given moment, communicate this to your support system. The people who love and support you most are still not necessarily mind readers. Allow yourself to be supported by acknowledging and communicating the need for support.
3. Know Your Supporters
Who in your life gives you support? Who cares deeply for you? Bring these people and resources to mind and feel grounded in the knowledge that there are people in the universe who have your back. It can be easy to bring to mind and stay stuck in the moments when someone did not support you, but so easy to neglect the knowledge and experience of truly being cared for. In times when you do not have immediate access to these people or resources, even bringing into focus the knowledge that these people are in your life can be comforting and reassuring.
To learn more or to book an appointment, contact me via telephone or email.
Brenna Burke, LMFT is a licensed marriage and family therapist in private practice in Santa Clarita, CA. She provides individual psychotherapy and couples counseling. Information provided through this website is for informational purposes only. It does not create a therapist-client relationship and does not replace clinical assessment or professional consultation.