My fear of being let down, being disappointed or of flat-out rejection kept me soldiering on and refusing to make myself vulnerable and expose myself to potential pain (as I saw it at the time).
But what it took me such a long time to realise was that my own fears were keeping me trapped. My fears were making me feel isolated. My choice not to communicate how I was feeling kept me separate.
I was in a cage of my own making and my fears of pain and rejection put me there.
Honestly, for many people these feelings are very normal. But these fears hold us back from having even richer, deeper and more supportive relationships with those around us.
How are you at asking for help?
Can you truly share with those close what’s really going on for you?
What does the word vulnerable bring up for you?
As a single woman who’s family are all in Australia, my friends are my support system. Most of them have partners and children and busy lives. And for a long time, I believed that meant they couldn’t or wouldn’t be there for me if I needed them. That I wasn’t a priority so there was no point in asking.
But that’s not true. I was letting my fears dictate a perspective that was one-sided – and disempowering.
Today I am in a very different place and have recently had a situation come up that’s shown me how far I’ve come in this respect and I wanted to share the steps I took to shift my perspective because I know many of you out there might not ask for the support you need because of your fears too.
So here are 5 practical steps to getting the support you need:
1.Recognise and acknowledge that the people around you love you and that whether they can support you or not, is not a reflection of how they feel.
Part of the reason I used to not share how I was really feeling or ask for support was that I was afraid I wouldn’t get the response I wanted. And when I didn’t I made it mean that person didn’t really care for me, ‘cause if they did then they would support me no matter what!! But… real life is way more complicated than that. So the first step I took was training myself to always acknowledge – and choose to BELIEVE – that no matter what, that person loved me.
TIP: If you know this is something you need to work on yourself, a good trick for this is in those moments of doubt, find the file in your brain where all the good times with your friend are stored, and start remembering all the support, kind words, fun times and laughs you have shared.
2.People who love and care for you want to support you
A friend of mine with a super busy life (she has a board on her wall that has her life planned for the next 6 months!) shared with me that because her business is so busy she only sees her friends every 2 or 3 months and she has to schedule them into the diary. BUT… if they really need her, she’ll do whatever she can to call them or see them as soon as she can. She’ll make it a priority.
TIP: People have so many things vying for their attention on a daily basis, like jobs, kids, family, the need for down time. We juggle a lot! So recognise that if you really need someone, it could be friends, partners or family, they can make you a priority – if you do one small thing (it’s the next step).
3.You have to let people know you NEED help (‘cause they’re not mind readers)
This is the kicker and I know many of you reading this might shy away from this concept! Me too. Asking for help is not something many of us do with ease. But, recently I found myself in a situation where I was doing some pretty deep healing work and it dawned on me that actually I really needed some support and people out in the world to know what I was up to so that I could call on them if things got shaky. So I called up one of my best friends, and told her exactly what I was up to. Since then she’s been checking on me regularly to see how I’m getting on, which makes me feel loved and supported even though I’m doing this healing work on my own. So this shift is all about realising that people are not mind readers (even though we wish they were!) and if I want their help and support I have to take responsibility for what I need and TELL THEM what I’m doing and ask for help.
TIP: when you are going through something and feeling alone or unsupported, it may be that you’re family and friends don’t actually know you need help and that you’re struggling. I know in those moments it might be the last thing you want to do – reach out for help – but it is the action you need to take to connect with people who can help.
4.Be clear about what kind of support you need
Once you’ve reached out and shared you’re struggling or in need of some kind of support, the best way to get your needs met is to be super clear about what that support looks like. For me, it was asking people if I could give them a call after my healing sessions if I needed it. The simple fact of knowing there was someone at the other end of the phone that I could call if I was feeling wobbly or needed connection and reassurance was all I needed to feel supported and not like I was going through this process alone.
TIP: if there is something you would like support with right now, ask yourself what specifically does this look like in terms of behaviours or actions? And then share that with someone who can help.
5.Create a support network
The other piece to this puzzle is knowing that everyone has stuff going on in their lives and sometimes they just won’t be able to support you in the way you need, even if they might want to. Be careful of making this mean something about your relationship or how they feel about you. In those times it’s worth remembering the first point on this list – they love you – but they just don’t have the time/space/capacity/energy etc to take on any more than they’ve already got on their plate. And that’s OK. This is NO reflection on how they feel about you. (If there’s a pattern that they never support you, then that’s a whole other topic. I’ll definitely be writing a blog about that soon!) So to give yourself the best chance of success when it comes to asking for support is to create multiple sources of support.
TIP: I find my mum friends do this really well – they build a whole network of people they can call on for reciprocal support, it’s brilliant! So think about whether you are asking just one person to support you all the time – your spouse, a friend or a family member perhaps – and think about who else you could lean on in times of need? I lined up 3 different friends who I could call because I knew they all wouldn’t necessarily be available when I needed them. Another friend of mine has built a support network among her neighbours and they help each other out all the time! Different people are good at different things too, so recognise people’s strengths and think about asking them for help in that area e.g. I have friends I go to for business support; others for emotional support; and then others all together for practical support.
At the end of the day here’s the thing to remember – in this modern life people are ridiculously busy. They won’t necessarily notice you’re not doing well, and they likely won’t have much spare time – but if YOU let them know you need them, most people who love you will MAKE time. But you have to take the first step.
What about you?
So which area do you need to work on?
- Acknowledging you are loved?
- Sharing that you’re struggling?
- Asking for specific support?
- Cultivating a support network?
I’d love to hear which you’re going to work on and what action you’re going to take to strengthen that area, so please share in the comments below so we can be your online supporters!
Here’s to you feeling more connected, supported and loved.