Those of us living with addiction are no strangers to resisting help, even when it’s offered with the support and care we need, when we need it most. We’ve become accustomed to wanting to do everything for ourselves. We hate the idea of being dependent or needy. We are prideful and don’t want to appear vulnerable or weak. It takes many of us a long time to realize that there is strength in being able to receive help when we need it. It is a sign of courage to ask for help, especially when we are feeling low, depressed and distressed. When we allow others to help us, we open ourselves up to love, light and care, in a way that helps us immeasurably in our healing journey.
There is a reason why people thrive in support groups and group therapy. We are meant to be in community and partnership with each other. We’re meant to learn from one another. Everything we’ve seen and experienced can become a resource for someone else. Similarly, we add to our expansion and growth when we let ourselves learn from other people. We can be each other’s support systems, help build each other’s networks and link each other with useful resources and services. When we are feeling defeated, we can give each other hope. We can lean on each other when we’re feeling low on faith. We can pray together, share helpful tips, and navigate the many challenges of recovery, together as a team. Allowing ourselves to be supported in this way helps us to feel less alone and less overwhelmed. It helps us to regain our faith in ourselves and our recovery. When we believe in ourselves, and when have other people cheering us on, we’re far more likely to succeed.
When we are embroiled in the cycles of addiction, we are also often battling depression, anxiety and other mental health issues. It is common with any of these issues to isolate ourselves and hide away from the world. We’re afraid of what people would think if they knew the severity of our problem. We’re afraid of being judged, shunned and ostracized. We hate the thought of people being disappointed in us or embarrassed by us. Many of us have already felt the painful sting of people looking down on us and thinking less of us because of our illnesses. We develop a coping mechanism of self-isolation. Like many coping mechanisms that are misguided and harmful, isolation doesn’t usually help us but instead makes our problems worse. It can aggravate our addictive patterns and our mental illnesses. We are very often suffering in silence, alone, and our issues become even more concentrated and heightened. They fester and grow worse. When we are isolating ourselves, we’re even less likely to reach out for the help we so desperately need.
In addition to our isolation, we also employ other tactics that are full of resistance, that compound our inability to ask for help when we need it – avoidance, denial and escapism among them. We avoid thinking about our problems, hoping they will somehow go away if we don’t pay attention to them long enough. We avoid fielding other people’s questions, worries and concerns. We avoid people altogether, in order to enable ourselves to continue with our addictive behaviors with as little obstruction as possible. We deny to ourselves and other people that we even have a problem. We convince ourselves that we aren’t truly addicts, that we can quit any time we want. We tell ourselves that we’re only drinking a lot because we’re under an especially high amount of stress at work, or we’re only using right now as a crutch to get over a particularly difficult situation. We convince ourselves that self-medicating with our drugs of choice is a better alternative to our anxiety and depression, telling ourselves that it would be worse to leave our emotional pain untreated without any relief. We use our addictive substances and behaviors of choice as tools of escape, to avoid having to feel our pain or do the work to heal it. All of these things numb us from our pain and aid us in lying to ourselves about just how much pain we’re actually in. When we’re not dealing with our issues head on, we’re much more likely to resist getting help. We are essentially living a lie, convincing ourselves that we’re coping just fine when in reality we’re suffering.
We may have been raised to believe that being independent and self-sufficient means never asking for help. We may have been conditioned to think that needing help from other people is a sign of immaturity, weakness or irresponsibility. We may have been judged harshly and subjected to excessive criticism. The trauma, abuse and neglect we experienced may also have made us wary of trusting people, opening up to them, or exposing our vulnerability. We may have developed patterns of self-reliance to avoid having to need other people. The people we depended on or needed in the past may have let us down, making us believe we shouldn’t ever rely on anyone outside of ourselves.
When we’re ready to do the work to recover, one of the most important mindset shifts we have to make is understanding that there is actually strength in asking for help, not weakness. Being able to acknowledge our vulnerability, what makes us human, is a sign of strength and courage. We all need help at some point in our lives. That doesn’t make us any less worthy. We’re not inadequate if we need other people, we’re simply human. Needing support is part of the human experience. Needing other people is part of human nature. The sooner we can abandon our limiting and harmful beliefs around asking for help, the sooner we can open ourselves to the love and support other people are waiting to offer us.
Do you or your loved one need help? At Hired Power, we have personal experience with both addiction and recovery. We’re here to help you find your freedom and achieve lasting recovery. Call (714) 559-3919 today.