Asking for help might seem like an easy thing to do. It might seem so simple that you might think that most everyone is asking for help from a friend or family member any time they need it. Perhaps you even have the thought that “normal” people have the ability to ask for help, but you don’t have that ability.
But the truth is, asking for help can be incredibly difficult for many people. This is especially true for those who experience addiction and/or those who have experienced trauma. It’s common that those who struggle with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) have trouble asking for help. Sometimes this might be the case because many children who experienced trauma had to live with their trauma alone. Perhaps they didn’t know that what they experienced was traumatic. Perhaps they didn’t know that they even needed help or that they could ask for help, even if they wanted to.
There’s a significant relationship between those with PTSD and addiction. Using substances often becomes a way to manage challenging emotions, even if those emotions were born from a trauma many years earlier. Lisa Najavits, author of Seeking Safety: A Treatment Manual for PTSD and Substance Abuse, points out in her book that having to ask for help can:
–make us feel weak or vulnerable
–challenge our sense of pride for doing things on our own
–make us feel like we don’t deserve to receive help
–create fear of being rejected
–points out to us that we might not have anyone to ask for help from
–create feelings of suicide, especially when we have tried to ask for help in the past and have been abused or rejected for our needs
–create fear of depending too much on someone else for our needs
Despite these obstacles, asking for help, especially in recovery is essential. We all need a community of others to help us move through our own inner obstacles. Recovery doesn’t happen alone. Healing from addiction requires emotional, psychological, and at times, even spiritual development. For this reason, recovery can be challenging at times. And often, especially for new recovering addicts, life can get harder before it gets better. Not because it’s intended that way, but simply because you’re going to finally face inner material that was likely ignored with an addiction. And this alone can make ending an addiction hard to do on your own.
So, you’re going to need to ask for help at some point in your recovery. Najavits, author of Seeking Safety, lists a number of ways that we can make small changes toward finding the help we need in our lives. She suggests the following when asking for help:
–Prepare how you’ll handle it if the person refuses your request.
–Start small. Practice on safe people, with simple requests.
–Try to ask for help before a problem becomes overwhelming. You can call someone any time for help – before, during, or after having a difficult time with something.
–In asking for help, you don’t have to tell the person your entire life story and why you’re asking for help. You can be straightforward and to the point.
–Asking for help can make you stronger and more independent in the long run.
–If there is no one in your life to ask help from, work on building a support network.
–When asking for help, be kind and gentle. Don’t make demands or threats.
–After you ask for help from someone, compare how your initial fears compared to what actually happened.
–Carry in your wallet a list of phone numbers you can call when you need to.
Asking for help is not easy for everyone. The above list of ideas might make asking for help easier and less of a burden.
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