Have you ever reached out for support, and instead of finding a helping hand, you found...nothing? Or, even worse, the person that you sought to help you actually hurt or made things worse?
All of us have experienced a time when we have felt overwhelmed and under resourced. Even if you are someone who is generally skilled at navigating the ups and downs of life, it can be helpful to have an unbiased outside perspective. But asking for help is harder than it seems.
You may have heard, as I did growing up, that "Other people don't need to know our business".
Or maybe that therapy is for people who are "crazy".
You may have witnessed a parent or family member working extremely hard to get ahead and achieve "success", without relying on others for help.
Or you may have seen that when outside "helpers" got involved- including medical doctors, police officers, even therapists (!) the outcome was detrimental to your loved ones.
I get it. I have been there. And when people reach out for their first consultation, I understand that for many people I work with, just reaching out is a radical act.
Personally, I have experienced the fear and vulnerability of articulating what I need or want- by making it clear and specific, I have outlined a clear road- to possible failure.
What if the therapist can't help me? What if this is just how I am? No one can help me! What if I open myself up to this other person and they hurt me or take advantage of me?
Making the decision to come to therapy is powerful. There is a reason that it can be so difficult to seek and ask for help- whether it be from personal experience of not receiving the help we needed in the past, or from the messages that we received, directly and indirectly, from those around us. It takes courage, and the willingness to be vulnerable enough to turn to face the challenge in front of us and admit that we need other people. We can't do it alone.
The goal of therapy is to experience more connection and communication. When we feel disconnected from ourselves and others, and can not communicate our thoughts, feelings, experiences, and desires clearly, the pain of the resulting isolation is often so acute that one is compelled to reach out, no matter the messages that they have received warning that to seek help is bad, or weak, or dangerous.
I hope that if you or a loved one is experiencing a difficult or challenging time, you can turn toward yourself with honesty and kindness. You can first offer yourself connection, an open hand, calm and loving attention.
Part of the reason that I became a therapist is because I wanted to offer what I felt that I needed when I was younger. A safe space to talk, to connect, to communicate about the most important things that were not being talked about anywhere else. Most importantly, the assurance that when I opened my hand to ask for help, someone would be there, waiting.