Accepting Support: Why So Reluctant?

I just caught an episode of that new show Go On ( starring Matthew Perry. In the show, Matthew plays a character named Ryan who is forced to join a support group after losing his wife. Ridiculous and fun, the group is peppered with bizarre people who seemingly have nothing in common with the eye rolling, curmudgeonly Ryan. However, at the end of the show everyone shows up at Ryan’s house at 3 am, keeping him company with his grief-related insomnia. These characters provide unexpected support, warmth and encouragement during Ryan’s time of need.

Ryan’s initial reluctance to get support mirrors a lot of what I see every day. Many people I know find it difficult to ask for and receive help. Many see it as a weakness. Interestingly, people with codependent characteristics are usually the worst perpetrators of needing to do everything on their own.

“I got it,” yells my neighbor as she straps another 5-pound bag of potatoes onto a heap of grocery bags she’s dragging and kicking into the house. “You sure?” I ask. “Really, I am fine!” she belts out red-faced and panting.

Reluctance to receive help and support relates to many of my counseling clients’ complaints during their first appointment. They are stupefied at their inability to perfectly manage whatever it is they have come in to talk about.

“I don’t know what’s wrong with me. I have never needed to talk to anyone before. I feel ridiculous.” 

Why is it that people feel bad about needing help and support? If we were all meant to be alone, why don’t we all move to separate, isolated islands. We are brought into this world naked and dependent, needing gentle loving support, longer than any other mammal species. What’s the big deal anyway? Everybody knows it is easier to move out of your apartment with other people carrying the other half of the sofa. Are you less valuable?

Stretched thin? How do you view getting help?

1. Do you see getting help or support as a weakness? Why? What is that about? Who taught you that?

2. Do you think getting help or support is something that is good for other people, but you are reluctant to do so? How can this be so?

3. Do you often refuse attempts of help that others give you? Why? Are you uncomfortable? Where does this discomfort come from?

4. Do you make it look like you have it all covered but feel a little resentful that others don’t offer you the kind of help that you might be needing?

We tend to do better and feel better with the right kind of help.

Next time someone offers help, take him or her up on it. If you aren’t used to accepting help, you will probably feel a little uncomfortable at first. Sit with your discomfort a while and just try to take it all in. You might be surprised.

Just because you CAN do it on your own doesn’t mean that you should.

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