Asking for Help
Recently, someone I follow on Twitter committed suicide. I had never met or interacted with him, but it made me reflect on what it means to have friends and followers online and in real life. I kept wondering if this gentleman had a real support system. As someone who’s been through trauma, I understand the importance of being able to call upon people who I know would be there any time of the day or night. Having a support system is our own personal safety net.
In our hectic daily lives we come in contact with a variety of people. Our relationships range from the smile and wave to the intimate friendship of women we’ve known for years. All of them have meaning at some level. The school crossing guard whose name we don’t know, but says hello to us 5-days a week, may not be someone we share our hopes and dreams with. But seeing her smile and hearing a friendly good morning might be just what we need after reading a sad email before heading out the door.
I’ve shared before that it takes a village, even as a mom. Having a community, both online and in real life, is important to nurturing our interests, learning, and being able to release. We all need supportive and helpful people in our lives. Knowing that there are people we can really turn to lends us the peace of mind we need to get through busy and challenging times. Unlike our general community, this smaller group of supportive people may be more difficult to identify and cultivate, but is exceptionally important. But how do we go about finding our support system?
Don’t be afraid to be vulnerable - You don’t have to tell everyone you need help. Reaching out to a few close friends or family members may be all you need. It’s OK to admit we can’t do it all.
Use your listening skills - Sometimes being able to offer support opens up others to give us support. In addition, if we’re going to ask for help we need to be able to listen, not just hear.
Ask - Three simple letters, but one huge word. This is something I have difficulty with. Many of my girlfriends do too. We don’t want to burden others with our challenges. And there is a risk that asking will mean someone will say they can’t help. Chances are, though, they won’t. We want to help each other. But if we don’t know someone needs or wants our help we often just sit back in silence.
We need support systems for many things. Our go-to people are a small but important group helping us to ease the load, without judgment, criticism or the expectation that there is a quid-pro-quo relationship.
Do you have a support group who would be there with you so you won’t have to go it alone?
[photo by Piotr Zurek]