How do I ask for help?

On the door to my office hangs a sign that reads, “98% of my problems would cease to exist if I could stop overthinking and chill the F out.” Overcomplicating is what we do when we keep coming up with the same answers and hating them.

Somewhere between shame and fear is this place where unfamiliar steps seem impossible to take. It’s not that they’re difficult to understand. They’re uncomfortable, and so we go looking for softer, gentler ways to get what we need.

Of course, the softer & gentler way is usually unhealthy and unfulfilling.

I often talk to very intelligent and talented people who tell me, “I don’t know how to ask for help.” What this most often means is:

  • I’m accustomed to being alone when I’m afraid and hurting
  • I can’t tolerate the emotional vulnerability of asking for what I need
  • I expect to be disappointed and/or rejected
  • I am so lost that I don’t know how to articulate what I need

The very best types of supportive friends and family are the ones I can go to and say, “I’m twelve shades of F’ed up and I’m not even sure what’s going on with me.” By enlisting their help in sorting it out, I not only save myself a ton of time and effort, I also ensure that I don’t get lost inside my own head. Two heads aren’t twice as good as one. They’re a million times better than one.

“We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them. – Albert Einstein

Asking for help is best done directly and with the fewest number of words possible. I can’t stress that enough. Typically, the more uncomfortable we are, the more we bullshit ourselves and others. Worse, because we’re so delightfully codependent, we tend to tell stories that hint at what we need and then get mad when folks don’t figure it out and provide it.

We’re cryptic people who hide our true selves and yet desperately want to be understood (this would be especially cool because then perhaps they could explain us to us).

I’ve never met a person who I found difficult to understand but I have met a lot of folks who were so ashamed that they couldn’t face themselves, much less reach out for help.

My brothers and sisters in 12 step programs remind me that we only look down on an addict to help pick them up but our outstretched hands get declined by those who feel undeserving.

I want a dollar for every time I’ve ever heard some variation of, “If you knew half the shit I’ve done, you wouldn’t want to know me.”

Some things to consider if you’re feeling unworthy: We’re not saints. In fact, we’re just like you. We’re at where we’re at because somebody lifted us up.

Stop thinking. Stop drugging and drinking. Just ask. It’s ok to be a mess. Stop trying to “figure it out” and turn to somebody with a lot of experience in getting back up.

Nobody overcomes alone.

 

 

 

Jim LaPierre

About Jim LaPierre

Jim LaPierre LCSW CCS is the Executive Director of Higher Ground Services in Brewer, Maine. He is a Recovery Ally, mental health therapist and addictions counselor. He specializes in facilitating recovery (whether from addiction, trauma, depression, anxiety, or past abuse) overcome obstacles, and improve their quality of life. Jim offers a limited amount of online therapy to those with very flexible schedules.