One of the concepts I recall learning most clearly while earning my graduate degree was the idea that humans are wired to connect. Although our needs will vary from person to person, we all have some need for social connection.
There is no more important time to connect with another person than when you are struggling. This is often contrary to messages we have heard our entire life that say we should be able to handle our problems ourselves, push through tough times, or pull ourselves up by our bootstraps.
There are numerous reasons to reach out to someone else, but here are a few of the most common benefits:
- Concrete Help. Sometimes you need someone to help pick you up from that car appointment or loan you $20.
- Emotional Support. At times, it's helpful to have someone just sitting next you while you’re upset.
- Perspective. It’s often hard to see the full picture when you’re in the middle of a tough time. Getting someone else’s viewpoint often makes the situation clearer.
- Advice. Two heads are better than one. Someone else might come up with an idea you never would have considered.
- Validation. Odds are someone else has been through a similar situation before, and it can be incredibly helpful to hear that others have felt the same as you do before.
So, once you decide to reach out, who do you reach out to? I often encourage folks to plan who they will talk to in advance, typically identifying one or two people who will be helpful for them. Sometimes, it’s the same person each time, such as a best friend or family member. Other times, its someone specific to the situation, such as someone you know who has been through a similar situation before or an expert in this area. Another option would be to reach out to a professional (such as a BeWell counselor!) to get a fully neutral opinion.
Regardless of who you end up talking to, I hope you all find the courage to reach out when you are in need.