I know a lot of people who have a problem asking for help. It’s not that they don’t know that they need help, but it’s a leap of faith to make their needs known to others. I think that asking for help requires a certain amount of vulnerability that many people are very uncomfortable with. I think that some of this reluctance comes from the fact that many of live in an individualistic culture. Making it on one’s own without any helped is looked upon as something to aspire to while asking for help is sometimes perceived as a sign of weakness. I must admit that as someone who provides a service that is often very needed as a part of my job, it’s frustrating when people visibly put on a front and lie about how they really feel or situations that have just occurred. However, while it’s frustrating, I’m not upset when it happens because I know that it’s very hard to be honest with oneself–let alone others in a difficult situation. Not too long ago I was in a similar situation where I found myself in a position where I either had to ask for help or experience the regret that comes along with not making the right choice at the right time. Now, luckily (or unluckily) for me I’m the kind of person who is plagued with insomnia, nausea, and other weird somatic stress symptoms when I procrastinate doing something that I really need to do or if I have some kind of conflict I have to resolve. It’s essential to fix it as soon as possible so that my pseudo-sickness can go away and I can have some peace of mind. Great incentive. All that being said, I couldn’t sleep or be productive until I fixed this huge misunderstanding and at least said what I had to say. There’s a saying that says “close mouths don’t get fed” and I was in dire need of some assistance. However, since I had already failed in delivering my message effectively in person I decided that an email would be the next best thing. So I sent a very long and rambling email that wasn’t organized but got my message across. It was definitely a gamble in the long run but at the end of the day I was able to get the results that I wanted because I was willing to get out of my comfort zone and actually say something.
Safety is something that is at the forefront of our minds a lot of the time. Whether it’s looking both ways before crossing the street, parking in a lighted area, or buying a concealed weapon for your house. We hate being caught off guard. However our emotional safety is important as well. Working in mental health “not feeling safe” a way that a lot of people express the fact that they are not in a good emotional space and they’re afraid that they may do something impulsive. Rarely do people get to feeling this way without some type of cause. It could be stress in their relationship, work, or even something in their childhood that happened and they are just now remembering. They are vulnerable and they’re reaching out for help. Emotional safety can be defined differently by different people. You’ll notice that when someone feels emotionally safe they are much more likely to open up and being genuine with themselves and others. They are also more likely to show vulnerability. This is why many times you don’t know who someone really is until you’ve known them for a few years and they feel comfortable with you. Feeling emotionally safe can sometimes be harder with those you’re close to than with perfect strangers. Think of programs like Alcoholics Anonymous where people incredible vulnerable about their addictions and struggles but still get to remain somewhat anonymous. That being said, I have so much respect for people who can be vulnerable about their struggles and experiences in a group of people that they know. Because they are really putting themselves out there in the hope that their vulnerability will inspire and motivate others. In some ways I feel that writing a book where you’re vulnerable and speaking in a group of people with that same level of vulnerability is something totally different. As a therapist, I know that vulnerability is one of the best emotions in the therapy room, but there has to be a high level of emotional safety and if one person is vulnerable and the other person isn’t supportive or doesn’t care, the session quickly becomes counterproductive with both people leaving feeling hurt and upset at the other. This is why the emotional safety of both individuals has to be a priority.