Written by Robin L. Flanigan, Senior writer, bphope newsletters
It can be hard to admit that we need help. And we’re often reluctant to ask for it because we fear uncertainty and the possibility of being judged for our vulnerability. Researcher Brené Brown, Ph.D., says we tend to feel better about ourselves when we help someone else but think less of ourselves when we ask for help.
“You cannot judge yourself for needing help, but not judge others for needing your help,” she says. But you’d be wise to measure courage by how vulnerable you are, she adds. So instead of feeling reticent about reaching out, think about how doing so is a sign of strength.
Help for people dealing with mood symptoms will be different for everyone and can run the gamut from physical, financial, emotional, or spiritual.
“Asking for help doesn’t devalue you in any way,” says licensed professional counselor Laurie Leinwand. “It can enable you to advance, connect you meaningfully with others, bolster your productivity and ability to do things with greater ease, and better prepare you for your next challenge.”
Interestingly, a Stanford Graduate School of Business study found that we dramatically underestimate how likely others are to help us.
“People are more willing to help than you think, and that can be important to know when you’re trying to get the resources you need,” says Frank Flynn, associate professor of organizational behavior at Stanford GSB.
The welcome news is that there’s no one right way to ask for help. If you feel most comfortable talking to a close friend or family member, do that. If you’d feel more at ease talking with a professional, or a stranger on a helpline, go that route.
The only thing that matters is that you let someone know you need assistance.
Of course, being aware you may need that assistance—and preparing for what to do when that time arrives—is also key.
So, for starters, try not to wait until you’re in a crisis to make your needs known. Be proactive and plan ahead when things are good. That plan will be useful when symptoms arise but before they escalate, and even when others know you need help, but you don’t.
“Accepting bipolar as a genuine, treatable condition is key to recovery,” says bp Magazine columnist Stephen Propst. “It’s also essential to recognize those times that call for a helping hand. Never hesitate to acknowledge when you can’t go it alone; that’s when it’s time to say, ‘Help!’
I remember walking into first grade and being the only kid in my class wearing glasses. Back then eye glasses were not considered a fashion accessory and as a result I became the easy target for bullies.
Six years ago, after multiple eye surgeries including strabismus for lazy eye, vision correction, cataract surgery, and a retina reattachment, I was diagnosed with visual dyslexia. This form of dyslexia affects visual processing and makes it so that the brain doesn’t get the complete picture of what the eyes see. Just imagine yourself having difficulty finding words on a page or combining the start of a sentence on one line with another one further down on the page.
While I do love a challenge, visual dyslexia is a hard nut to crack. I couldn’t read, write or edit without colossal mistakes and felt like a failure. Prior to my diagnosis, I was convinced I had a stroke or was experiencing early signs of alzheimers since I was only in my fifties. I was also trying desperately to keep my job as the editor of a corporate newsletter.
After several exhausting meetings with my boss about the quality (or lack) of my work, I had to admit I was no longer capable of handling my current job. Rather than risk being fired, I decided to quit with whatever little dignity I had left. Since my self-esteem was mostly predicated on my job performance, I became depressed, started to withdraw from friends and family, and began psychotherapy.
Up until this point, I was living my best life. I had successfully made the transition from entrepreneur to working for the “man” in a job I loved. I had a group of close friends, enjoyed a variety of hobbies, and started making plans for retirement.
Like the old adage says, “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” or as I say, allows you to dig deep and ask for help. As an independent woman since age 15, asking for help was not something that came naturally. In fact, I made it my mission in life NOT to need help from anyone.
There is another saying, “help is not a weakness, it’s a strength.” So I decided to stop wallowing in self pity and ask for help. Now, I am happy to say I no longer judge my self-worth based on my performance or compare myself with others. The latter is definitely a buzz kill. While my “visual dyslexia” is challenging. It does not define who I am and what I can accomplish. It just might take me longer to write my blog, read a book, or pay bills.
Read more in Part 1: The Camplex Brain and Diagnosis.
Written by Candace Schoner, freelance writer and producer of the podcast Speaking Candidly with Candace
Insecurity is a common feeling that most of us will experience due to a lack of confidence, anxiety, or uncertainty. According to The American Psychological Association, insecurity can impact both mental and physical health. So where does insecurity come from?
Think back to your own life. When was the first time you felt insecure or lacked confidence? Were you at work, at school, a social gathering, or applying for a new job?
Since insecurity seems like an unavoidable part of life, it’s important to know what is driving it. The 5 most common causes are comparison, rejection, social situations, past experiences, and perfectionism.
Many people try to hide their insecurities. For example, a person who is insecure about their weight may wear baggy clothes to hide their body size. A person with social insecurity may stand in the corner alone at a party or avoid group gatherings altogether. This is not a good long-term solution.
Instead of enjoying the moment, feeling insecure takes the fun away and replaces it with fear of failure.
While there is no instant fix there are behavioral changes that can help anyone to conquer insecurity.
Stop comparing yourself with others. This is a slippery slope and very evident on social media. Even though most people know many images on social media are manipulated, they can still bring up negative feelings about how we look or what’s going on in our own life. Instead, remind yourself that everyone has challenges. Focus on what you like about yourself and if there are things you would like to change, create a plan and go for it.
Nobody wakes up wanting to be rejected, yet it is a pretty universal experience that can lead to intense pain. According to Seattle therapist Brian Jones, rejection can provide opportunities for self-discovery and growth.
For example, you apply for a job you really want and have a great interview, but you don’t get the job. At first, you feel rejected and devastated. After reviewing your resume, you realize there are some skills you can improve to obtain your dream job.
The best way to overcome rejection is to avoid setting unrealistic expectations. Should you find yourself feeling rejected, ask: “what can I learn from this experience?”. Remember, rejection is not the same as failure. It’s just another opportunity for personal growth.
Social insecurity or social phobia causes someone to experience intense and persistent fear and anxiety in specific or all social situations (verywellhealth.com). While the easy solution is to avoid social situations, it is not always practical or possible.
Instead of throwing yourself into situations that cause you fear, try to slowly build up your confidence and tolerance to social situations. For example, you might start out making small talk with the cashier at the grocery store and work your way up to hosting a group of friends at your home.
Past experiences can negatively affect self-confidence and trigger feelings of inadequacy. For example, being bullied at school, filing for unemployment, or getting a divorce.
There is an internal dialogue that accompanies our feelings of insecurity. This is called the “critical inner voice,” says Dr. Lisa Firestone, co-author of the book Conquer Your Critical Inner Voice. “The critical inner voice is formed out of painful early life experiences in which we witnessed or experienced hurtful attitudes toward us or others close to us. As we grow up, we unconsciously adopt and integrate this pattern of destructive thoughts toward ourselves and others.”
Try these three tips to help you avoid letting past experience influence your future:
The inability to be satisfied with progress and the desire to control the outcome of any project until it is perfect can be a sign of insecurity stemming from the feeling that you or your performance is never enough.
The first step to changing the perfectionism within oneself is to recognize it. When one is trapped in this thinking they tend to check and recheck their progress, apologize for minor mistakes, and spend too much time redoing things. Perfectionism is a myth and should not be used as a tool for measuring your performance.
Finally thought: Not all people experience insecurity so intensely that it disrupts their life and ability to function. If insecurity is impacting your mental health and you can’t seem to conquer it alone, you may want to try cognitive behavioral therapy. CBT is often preferred to traditional psychotherapy because it can quickly help identify and offer solutions for specific challenges. It generally requires fewer sessions than other therapies and is done in a structured way (mayoclinic.org).
Written by Candace Schoner, freelance writer and producer of the podcast Speaking Candidly with Candace.