It’s hard to ask for help, but…
So many of us are conditioned to believe it is our responsibility to take care of our own problems and as men we seem to carry forth an even deeper conviction that holds “if I ask for help, well then I am weak.” I just hung up from a call with a man seeking a group to help him cope with his struggles. During the initial part of the conversation he was apologetic to me for “bothering” me and “taking up” my time and for “troubling” me with his challenges. I am sure you can hear the ironies in these statements, as can I, but what I mostly hear is pain and shame. This man, who seemed to be a very kind and gentle person, is ashamed of the fact that he needs help.
Where and how did it become that our ability to manage life is determined by our ability to “go it alone?” I cannot think of one instance in which any of us have not in some way, shape, or form benefited from the help of another human being. I know we fancy ourselves in this country as rugged individuals, but from the friendships I have gained over the years with men who are Marines, these guys (and these are some pretty independent guys!) know that you cannot make it on your own. You need a friend, you need a confidant, you need a guy who can read a map and help you get to where you’re going, both literally and metaphorically!
When I am dealing with depression, anxiety, or any of life’s challenges, I know I have to fight the urge to “go it alone.” During difficult times I can hear the voice in my head telling me I will just be burdening people if I reach out to them or the voice that nags me to “just figure it out” or the other one which scolds me I am “being a whiner”, but through awareness and effort I am learning to put these voices away. I know it takes strength and courage to ask for help. It takes strength and courage to acknowledge I don’t have all the answers. And the irony…each time I ask for help from someone it seems inevitable I end up helping them in some way as well. Even if it is just in helping them feel good about themselves that they could help me. I know it’s hard to admit you can’t solve all the challenges in your life alone, but a great first step to contentment is to take a risk and ask for help!