- Mental Health
Life as a Codependent - Asking for Help
Understanding The Human Condition
It's said that "everybody needs somebody sometime". This common phrase is absolutely true. When you're battling a recovery from codependency, however, asking for help is anything but natural. Overcoming this mental barrier can lead to a more fruitful and successful life, and give you even more hope for the future.
It's admittedly hard to reach outside of your comfort zone, admit that there's something that you can't seem to do on your own and ask for assistance from those who are closest to you - or even perfect strangers. The Western world values a sense of independence and self-sufficiency and these social structures are compounded upon those who suffer from codependency. Codependents live life giving all that they can (and often more) to those that they love and value, then feel resentful when it is not perceived to be given back in equal measure. Codependents often go above and beyond the call of duty, feeling tremendous guilt when circumstances simply don't allow them to lend a helping hand. Recognizing the signs of codependency and overcoming them is essential to living in recovery and developing healthy relationships going forward.
Sometimes we All Need a Helping Hand
Recognizing the Obstacles:
Codependents have a natural barrier in place that prevents us from asking for assistance - even when we truly need it. We exhibit two different behaviors when it comes to asking another person to help us.
1) We Feel Guilty:
It's uncomfortable to venture outside of your comfort zone and depend on someone else. Codependents want to believe that there is nothing that we need that we can't do for ourselves. We project our own insecurity on others - even when they've done nothing to prove our assumptions true. Asking for help isn't a natural process. It's admitting that there's something that we are not able to fix on our own. It's putting ourselves on the line and trusting and relying on someone else for something that we need. We feel guilty for putting any pressure on someone else. We don't want to bother someone else with our problems. Often, that means that we suffer in silence and isolation, when the solution could potentially be lingering right in front of us. There is no reason to assume that our close friends and/or family would feel burdened by our requests. We're usually not asking for a million dollars. It could be as simple as asking for a little assistance in asking for a ride home, or asking if they mind covering some slack at work while we run to a dental appointment. It still catches us completely off-guard, and can set the stage for an immense amount of pain, stress and emotional turmoil.
If you feel uncomfortable asking a close friend for help for something important, you can begin the process of overcoming that fear by starting small. Friends are friends for a reason. You trust them, and it's highly likely that they've counted on you numerous times - and you've bent over backwards to try to offer a hand whenever possible. If you're uncomfortable asking for what you need, it's also likely that your needs will not be met. Sometimes you simply have to be willing to break out of your shell, take a step forward and have faith that your needs will be met by the people that you trust to meet them.
2) We Feel Disappointed:
Codependents also have an unrealistic and unfair expectation when it comes to their own needs and desires. We feel like our friends and family members should know what we need - and offer to help on their own. While we're hardly psychic when it comes to the needs of others, we also have a double standard in place that prevents the same kinds of considerations when it comes to ourselves. When our loved-ones don't automatically anticipate and fulfill our needs in the way that we want or expect, we feel frustration and disappointment - potentially on an epic scale. These expectations are grossly unfair. We're shifting the burden off of ourselves in order to make our codependency more feasible, rather than just accepting that some things are out of our control and it's only human to require the help of another human being at certain times.
Is asking for help easy for you
Overcoming the Obstacles:
The first step in codependent recovery is recognizing that we are powerless over others and admitting that our lives have become unmanageable. We cannot willfully dictate how other people act - or what they perceive. While our problems may seem blatantly obvious, they may not be so apparent to anyone outside of our situation. Getting upset or angry at our loved ones when they don't anticipate our every need only leads to continual frustration and puts unnecessary strain on our family members and friends.
It's a fact that no single human being can deal with and overcome every obstacle that crosses their path alone. Sometimes we need other people, and that means swallowing our pride, biting the bullet and vocalizing our needs and desires - even if it makes us uncomfortable.
Sometimes the people you depend on are not going to be able to come through for us. Don't allow that to become a barrier the next time you need help. It's the exception, not the rule, and more often that not, our family members, close friends and even coworkers are going to be more than happy to lend a helping hand when necessary.
Make sure to not take asking for help overboard. Requesting assistance does not mean that you can pawn off all of your own responsibility and expect others to handle all of our problems for us. We still possess the majority of the responsibility for our own lives, choices and actions. That doesn't mean, however, that asking for help occasionally when we truly need it is a hurdle that cannot be overcome. Quite the contrary. Asking for help can not only build our own self-confidence and self-image, it can continually build trust between us and others, which ultimately leads to a richer, valuable and normal life - whether we're in our first or final stage of recovery within the process.