How do you ask people for help?

osiris

MyPTSD Pro
I’m freaking bad at this.

A couple of weeks ago I was really struggling and bellbird asked if it would help to have people help write an email that I could send to T. desiderata was awesome and did, and I cut and pasted and added stuff and sent it.

When T replied (and when we later discussed in session), I ended up back peddling a bit as I felt like I had done something wrong in speaking up and needing more help. So I left myself alone to deal with some pretty crummy feelings without support.

Then this week I had a meeting with my boss - I’m swamped, really struggling, super triggered at work (still!), but when I tried to say how bad things are I ended up talking about how I realise how difficult everything is for everyone in the company.

*screaming in my head*

I don’t have a real life support system. I have spent from my teenage years til now basically dragging myself along with very little help. I can be tough as nails (which can be a good thing), but I am aware that I have almost no fight left in me.

So.
How do you break down the habit of a lifetime and seek help? And then accept help when/if it is offered?

(I consider it a baby triumph that I’m writing and asking you guys for help).
 

Movingforward10

MyPTSD Pro
Can you speak about this with your T?
The "I can't ask for help".
I had a session where my T kept wanting me to ask for what I needed. And whilst I new what it was I needed from her (which was a big development in itself!), the words refused to come out. I simply *could not* ask her. So we spent some time talking about that. And then she got me to practice. It was with email. Just allowing me to touch in and let her know how a certain thing had gone. But then I struggled with the email situation and that started a whole other problem!
Bit essentially, she helped me practice.
We still do practice. We talk about how I can broach the topic of asking help from her, from my partner, etc.
It's all a work in progress.

And for similar reasons to you. I too had only me to rely on growing up. So we are hard wired to not ask for help. My T calls it the script we grew up by. And now we are challenging that script. And when we start to challenge these scripts, there is script backlash, which is really uncomfortable (and where we back peddle), and then ultimately: script change.

The fact you recognise it.
The fact you see it.
The fact you wrote that post.
The fact you know that writing that post is a big step.
All positive.
 

Sideways

Sponsor
I consider it a baby triumph that I’m writing and asking you guys for help
Not a baby step. It's a big step. And despite how it feels? You're doing a pretty awesome job of it.

Based on your post, and your journalling? I'm seeing someone who is actively practicing asking for help. You're doing that. Done it multiple times - here in your journal, work, with your T, then here (creating your own thread - that's not as easy as it looks, right!?).

The hiccup seems to be sitting with the uncomfortable feelings that go along with asking for help. You ask, then backpeddle. It seems like it's that backpeddling that's getting in the way of getting the help you've asked for.

So, what happens for you when you ask - thoughts, feelings, or a combination?

Thoughts: your inner dialogue starts going berko with all the reasons you shouldn't have asked for help, aren't worthy of it, it's too risky being vulnerable, etc.

Feelings: this is harder to identify. Is it coming up in physical sensations? Can you identify how your body feels once you've asked someone for help?

Depending on what's going on for you once the asking has happened, that's how I'd tackle it. Thoughts I'd handle one way, feelings another.

But ultimately? The goal I'd set for myself would be (1) ask for help; then (2) stop myself, and wait. Sit through the discomfort, and have a go at just waiting to see what happens...; and (3) most important when you do this stuff, make a note of the outcome. Did it work (in which case, those uncomfortable thoughts and feelings get shut down quicker next time), or do I try a different strategy next time?

You're an incredibly tough critic on yourself. But I see progress here. Uncomfortable? Definitely. Of course it is. But you're doing it. Despite how it feels, you have asked for help, in several different ways. So high five yourself perhaps, because you are not failing at this. You're doing great.
 

Rani G

MyPTSD Pro
do you break down the habit of a lifetime and seek help? And then accept help when/if it is offered?

@osiris still trying, small changes, failing and then again doing differently. The habit of a lifetime needs a while to transform in order to build other, new neural pathways.. my adaptive survival style so far has been to be overly independent, not being a burden to others in order to feel that I am in control. So looking back to why I have adapted these mechanisms and understand who is at play? Which parts are arising (Through therapy). You are already Doing the work and I am reading about good strategies others have written here.
 

TruthSeeker

MyPTSD Pro
@osiris For me, I totally get the issue....Self-reliance is a great skill....but it has it's downsides. For me, it allows me to stay more isolated. Success and failure are all my own.....that's great when something works....and a ego smasher when it doesn't. Most of all, it takes more time to do everything myself. Teamwork can be a great feeling.....if you can manage your own part.....without feeling the compulsion to manage everyone else's part of a job or project-or criticize them because they didn't do it your way. That is off-putting and creates social issues......been there...done that.

Then there is the needing and asking for help.....which can quickly in my head translates to being needy........which are two different things. Neediness causes me serious issues in life where I get wrapped up with dysfunctional folks..........and at some point, is the pivotal behavior that precedes some type of major trauma....so that is a hard one there to separate.

I feel I have to be super independent......because independence is the key to control...

Accepting help unconditionally..... means I have to trust the others....not to screw up and not criticize. Once I found it was possible to completely trust one person (and I have).....realizing that I wasn't destined to be screwed over by them.....and really trusted they'd be there and have my best interest at heart, I could see that possibility in others. On the other hand, the cautious me thinks the safer route is to trust only one person....right? If I let trust become commonplace, well......I'll be vulnerable and slack in the vigilance department.........and get hurt again.

For me, this whole accepting help is so wrapped up with other distorted thoughts and beliefs........but I have realized in the last 6 months, that I have to accept people's help in order to be able to function adequately in life. I ask as little as possible....and keep big boundaries......It has gotten much better in the last few years...

Changing thinking about this topic, is I believe, critical to becoming more healthy. Tackling this one is a game changer in my opinion. Kudos to you for giving it a go!
 

osiris

MyPTSD Pro
Thanks for the thoughts.
I’ve sat feeling embarrassed at writing this thread (which is what I said about help to T - I felt embarrassed and uncomfortable asking for help when I emailed them). It’s the not quite knowing what to say next bit maybe.

It seems like it's that backpeddling that's getting in the way of getting the help you've asked for.

So, what happens for you when you ask - thoughts, feelings, or a combination?

Thoughts: your inner dialogue starts going berko with all the reasons you shouldn't have asked for help, aren't worthy of it, it's too risky being vulnerable, etc.

Feelings: this is harder to identify. Is it coming up in physical sensations? Can you identify how your body feels once you've asked someone for help?

Thanks @Sideways, as always there was some really helpful wisdom in your post. Food for thought for how to sit and observe/feel/record the feelings and thoughts. I need to think about it.

You nailed the thoughts - it’s nearly always connected to I’m not worthy, I don’t deserve help or I should be able to cope alone, no one else should know these things. And then that swings wildly to the I can’t trust anyone territory.

I hadn’t thought about it until you said, but the feelings are definitely the worst. Physical sensations and a ghost of body memories maybe. I definitely need to start tracking these to understand them. Thanks for the tip off.

Self-reliance is a great skill....but it has it's downsides. For me, it allows me to stay more isolated.

I feel I have to be super independent......because independence is the key to control...

If I let trust become commonplace, well......I'll be vulnerable and slack in the vigilance department.........and get hurt again.

These three points really hit me. Staying isolated and having independence feels like control, and trusting others means being vulnerable and being hurt again at some point.
So true in my head.

It’s like I make a million decisions every time before ever asking for anything.

My brain really does work overtime. So rather than just going:
“oh yeah this is too much for me to do this week, can you help me by doing it or extending the deadline?”

it goes:
“I can’t let them see I’m not coping, I can’t risk them knowing I’m struggling, if I ask for help they will judge, if I ask for help they will think I’m rubbish, if I can’t do it this week I’ll never be good enough in their eyes, how can I trust that they won’t use this in the future against me to say I’m not good enough etc etc etc”.

no wonder I’m freaking exhausted the whole time *rolls eyes*
 

Changing4Best

MyPTSD Pro
When I owned and operated a motel and my husband was crippled from a stroke, I was overwhelmed. I knew this, but did not have anyone I could ask for help that I knew of. One of his distant relatives came to visit and clearly saw our need. She called other relatives and one of them contacted the local social services office. They came to visit us and only then was I able to ask for and agree to their help. Up to that point, I had been as self-sufficient as ever, thinking I could handle it all, but knowing deep inside that I was really incapable of doing so. So, don't hesitate to ask friends and family to help you more. Even neighbors can be helpful. When my mom and dad got too old to mow their yard, their neighbors helped by mowing both yards every week. Mom and Dad did stuff for them too.
 

void

MyPTSD Pro
@osiris

Excellent thread. Much respect to you for taking what may have felt like a risk, in creating this thread.

You said "I definitely need to start tracking these (feelings) to understand them."

ACT(Acceptance and Commitment Therapy) would suggest that the attempt to understand the feelings is actually another way of avoiding/resisting what IS, in the present moment. These Avoidance and Control techniques keep us stuck struggling to change what IS. This is, in part, the source of your fatigue.

ACT would suggest that using mindfulness to simply be aware of the thoughts/emotions, is enough. It is easy for me to say, "simply be aware", I realize. The legacy of childhood emotional neglect from your caregiver(s) is a complex challenge to face.

May peace replace you pain.
 

TruthSeeker

MyPTSD Pro
@osiris

Excellent thread. Much respect to you for taking what may have felt like a risk, in creating this thread.

You said "I definitely need to start tracking these (feelings) to understand them."

ACT(Acceptance and Commitment Therapy) would suggest that the attempt to understand the feelings is actually another way of avoiding/resisting what IS, in the present moment. These Avoidance and Control techniques keep us stuck struggling to change what IS. This is, in part, the source of your fatigue.

ACT would suggest that using mindfulness to simply be aware of the thoughts/emotions, is enough. It is easy for me to say, "simply be aware", I realize. The legacy of childhood emotional neglect from your caregiver(s) is a complex challenge to face.

May peace replace you pain.


So, I'm not sure I get....how understanding feelings is a way of avoiding/resisting the issue in the present moment, if your purpose in the moment is to understand the feelings so you can move on.......and think differently.

So, say I'm ticked at my present T because my last T did some things that were unethical, screwing up the T relationship and she did something similar once......and it was not intentional. I react and I tell her my feelings in the moment. It's clear I have big reservations about trying any T again because the experience was that bad......so naturally, I'm now considerably more cautious. I decide to talk to T and to talk about my feelings about past T and how it's getting in the way of our new-current T relationship. I'm not sure how trying to understand feelings is a way of avoiding or resisting the feelings I'm having w my new T.....or did I interpret you wrong?..........
 

bird_on_a_wire

MyPTSD Pro
I can't say I understand what @void means, either, @TruthSeeker , except that what you are describing, does that relate more to 'beliefs' than emotions? (eg T cannot be trusted because..., or something similar?)

I can see the (sometimes awful) value of sitting with an emotion; I don't understand, however, how that alone would help entirely to increase understanding if that emotion is just a cover emotion for other, deeper emotions?

@osiris I envy that you can be tough as nails, and maybe with rest or distance can call upon that again, eventually, even in a different form?

I too am not good at asking for help, though better at asking for others to some degree, so maybe it does come back to self worth.

Funny how it is framed differently though: I do not see not asking as control, just what other option is there? So I don't feel stronger, and never tough, but weaker to not be able to ask, or not have resources, or no expectation of it being fulfilled, and no requirement of someone else.

If I do ask, I feel the shame. If I don't receive help I feel shame and stupid, if I do receive help, I feel something akin to shame-gratitude-relief-shock.

I am shocked too every day, for example, when I see people ask to ride the bus for free. I'm amazed with what seems like their ease. If I was desperate, such as would be late for work (the consequence would be really bad, to me); or a different really bad/serious scenario and consequence potentially for not asking, not just fear, I would 'have' to ask. But just the same, as with that minor example, if leaving work then meant walking 3 hours in the cold at midnight home, I'd do it before I'd ask. Which seems stupid, but I just can't. Same when I hear spouses dictate, 'pick me up here', or 'do this' or 'do that', not ask. And yet their kids they ask, and the kids rarely do. And I would have a higher expectation from their kids (esp if they have their parents' car, parents' support, etc)? However, it is just not 'me', either. Probably not a good thing, but is the way it is.

So not helpful, but not a small feat either. ?
 
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mumstheword

MyPTSD Pro
I think actively wanting to understand the source of emotions is, surely, a liberating intention.
I am of the mindset that "The truth shall set you free". So that is not just being aware but being aware of what something means.
I am not in the mindset of dogmatically adhering to any ideology, because that limits you. And saying that "distraction" is, perhaps a negative? No, i think distraction a necessary ploy, at times. It has its place.
So, Acceptance commitment therapy, sure it has its place, but it is just a theory, it's not reality.

We are here to use our intellectual capacity. We are here to bring love into it (life), we are here to learn to transcend fear, and to understand it's purpose and become wise.

As to the asking for help thing? I am in the same boat. Its hard. It brings up a sense of vulnerability and that is triggery.
I am struggling with the same thing. I know it takes courage and energy to reach out and I'm trying to build the energy to keep looking for help, because this year is THE WORST I have experienced, in trying to get support.

But, also,I am more discerning and knowing what I want and so, because of that and my various limitations pertaining to my life situation, as well as the climate of the situation we all are dealing with, I am having A LOT of barriers and hold ups with getting T.
 
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