Why do so many of us struggle through hard situations alone simply because we’re too scared, shy or proud to ask for help?
There’s no shame in admitting when you’re in over your head and need a friend to help pull you up. Not asking for help when we need it usually stems from a fear (of rejection or of being perceived as weak), so someone who ignores these fears and lets out a cry for help is actually being super-brave. Here’s how to surround yourself with people who can and will support you, and how to reach out to them when you need it.
Be real and honest with others
When making new friends we tend to hide the worst bits about ourselves, choosing only to show our fun and happy side. Putting on your best face in the early stages of a friendship is totally normal, but you could be doing yourself a disservice by pretending to be okay, so practice being authentic with your interactions from the get-go. You might find that some people can’t deal when you talk about dark stuff like depression, family troubles or your anxieties – don’t take it personally. Rather celebrate that you were able to be so true to yourself. If being your true self scares someone off then they were never meant to be in your life anyway.
Let go of fear
We hesitate to ask for help out of fear but ask yourself, what is the worst that can happen? Sure, someone could say no, but that’s not the end of the world. You could also have other fears, for example, they might laugh at you or think you’re weak. These are irrational and unlikely (and if someone does react negatively to you reaching out to them then let them go because you do not need that kind of person in your life).
Change your perspective
One of the reasons we tend to try and push through the tough times alone instead of reaching out is because we don’t want to be a burden to anyone, but think about how you would feel if someone asked you for help. Chances are you would feel honoured that someone would trust you and your opinion so much. Remember that everyone has their own unique life experiences that can add to your own, and most people are more than happy to share them with others. It makes people feel good to feel like they are being useful, so instead of thinking that you are putting them out, think of it as you giving them an opportunity to feel good!
Remember that you are valid
Don’t put your struggles down by comparing them to others. Yes, there are people whose lives are far harder than yours and that sucks, but it doesn’t make your heartbreak, job stress, self-esteem issues and so on are any less important. Your friends won’t dismiss your problems, no matter how trivial they might seem in the grand scheme of things.
If you hint about what you want from other people, you are only going to be disappointed by their lack of mind-reading abilities. Get to the point and avoid being vague or passive about what you need from others. For example, if you’re feeling low, don’t rely on sighing and removing your ‘last seen’ on WhatsApp to get the message across. Reach out and tell your best friend, ‘I am feeling low today and would really love for you to check in with me a few times.’ Everyone wins when you take a more straight-forward approach.
Don’t forget to give
When you show the people around you that you are there for them if they need help, then they will appreciate you more and feel more inclined to help you when you need it. If they don’t, then you need to rethink the people in your life who you keep close to you and check that you are getting what you need and deserve from your relationships.
Read more about mental health.