Just talk to someone! Speak up… Ask for help…

Whereas this is very good advice for someone going through a difficult time, asking for help is never easy. At least not equally for everyone. There are those who find it easy to speak to anyone who might be willing to listen and they feel understood. This might happen even if the person they were speaking to was uncomfortable and not attentive almost the whole time. There are others who are lucky and blessed to have good listeners around them, be it friends or professionals.

I remember sharing with a colleague an experience I was going through. Hardly had I said much when she responded in a manner that made me feel embarrassed to even have spoken up. Since then, I am very careful and selective of what I share with her or in her presence.

Speaking up is difficult. I get it. For a significant number of people seeking help might be difficult for a number of reasons:

1. It is not easy to ask for help. Period.

2. For others, asking for help feels like disturbing other people who have problems of their own.

3. Others feel like they have already asked for help enough times and they don’t want to be a burden.

4. Autonomy and the capacity to solve their own issues could be a motivation for many. They may not believe that they have done enough yet to actually ask for help.

5. The simple lack of good listeners is a greater challenge than many of us understand. Many feel that their friends and/or family will end up telling them what to do or responding in a manner that might make them dislike them, “If I talk to you, you will respond in a manner that might make me dislike you so I better be quiet.”

6. Betrayal and being misunderstood block many from speaking up. These are real fears. No one wants to open their heart and be vulnerable to a friend only to be misunderstood, made to feel horrible about their experience and the worst of it, to be betrayed and have your dirty linen all over town.

These reasons do not mean that speaking up is unnecessary. It’s just an acknowledgment that opening yourself to others is difficult even though it is still worth the risk. Be patient with yourself as you struggle to open your heart and be vulnerable. It is not easy. But keep you have to keep trying.

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