When to Ask For Support
As we move through life, sometimes we lose track of how we’re truly feeling during the day-to-day until we come up for air and realize we’re drowning. Adding in the fact that Western society is very individualistic, it’s not always easy to recognize the value of asking for support or knowing when the right time to do so is. Despite the “do it yourself” mentality that we are fed, surrounding yourself with community and leaning on them for support is good, healthy, and necessary. If you feel uncomfortable asking for help and support, you’re not alone. But just as you are likely happy to help the people you love, it is important to remember that the people you love also feel that way about helping you. Too often we rely on our coping skills alone to manage life’s challenges when the truth is, we might not need them if we felt adequately supported. Today we’ll discuss a few indicators to help you recognize when it’s time to ask for support so that you can reach out before you feel like you can’t move forward at all.
Why ask for support?
In short and simple terms, we aren’t meant to go through life alone. Asking for support is not a sign of weakness. On the contrary, it is an important act of love for yourself and others. It shows that you value your well-being enough to prioritize it. It also lets those you love know that you trust them enough to rely on them. Asking for help creates space for connection and reciprocity.
When should I ask for support?
The timing of asking for support may look a bit different to everyone as we all have different needs and tolerance levels. However, the goal of asking for support is to do so before reaching a breaking point, not seeing how far you can get alone before breaking. It’s most important to observe your own patterns and begin to identify what changes in your patterns, feelings, and body when you’re feeling maxed out and in need of support. As you explore that for yourself, a few general indicators you may notice are:
- Procrastination – Holding off on tasks without forgetting about them. This is usually feeling anxious about the fact that they aren’t yet complete, yet lacking the motivation to do them.
- Overwhelm – The feeling of “system overload.” Lack of focus, irritability, avoidance, or general discontent.
- Anxiety or Depression – Anxiety and depression can crop up as a warning sign from your mind and body that something in your life is not working for you. Racing thoughts or a loss of interest in things that usually please you might be a sign that your body is asking you to take a step back and enlist some help.
- Sabotage or Numbing Behaviors – This can fall under avoidance as well. Repeatedly reaching for “feel good” experiences to distract yourself from mental discomfort may be an indicator that you are struggling somewhere else. Rather than focus on the issue at hand, spoiling progress or overindulging in more enjoyable activities draws the attention away from the painful emotions or unnecessary shame around needing support.
How do I ask for support?
There are a variety of ways that you can ask for support. Having multiple channels of support is beneficial although it is important to remember that not everyone has this privilege. If you don’t have strong personal bonds to lean on, organizations and professionals are valuable resources during times when support is needed.
- Ask a friend – Friends are a special bond because they are people who choose one another to be a part of their lives. They aren’t connected by blood or forced to be connected in other ways. They are connected by a mutual choice to love and support one another due to things like shared values, interests, hobbies, and more. Friends are often pleased to have the opportunity to express their love and care by providing support to one another when it is needed.
- Reach out to family – Families often share a distinct bond that is especially important during times when support is needed. Often family, or chosen family, surrounds us during formative times in our lives and influences our identity and, by default, our interactions with the world around us. Although we sometimes disagree with family, we are bonded to them in ways that make their support highly beneficial and healing. Letting your family know when you need support and watching them show up can be a beautiful reminder of who you are and where you come from.
- Seek professional support – Even if you have strong family and friendship ties to lean on, the benefits of unbiased, third-party support can be extremely powerful. Additionally, for those who are still finding their close friends and chosen family, professional support is a great way to find the help you need and deserve. Community organizations, therapists, and social workers are a great place to start. Check out our post on Green Flags to Look For in a Therapist if you aren’t sure where to start on finding a good therapist.
Simply begin by letting people know where you’re at and how they can support you. Do you need a listening ear? Do you need some help with finding a solution? Do you need a ride somewhere, or some company while you tackle the seemingly insurmountable laundry pile in your guest room? You might be surprised to see how support shows up when you become open to it.
If you’re ready to seek support from a therapist, we provide support at Genesis Counseling of South Tampa. We offer both in-person and telehealth support and we look forward to the opportunity to work with you. Please feel free to book with us here.