Emotional Support and Help. How to Forget about Loneliness
“Leaving Loneliness: A Workbook: Building Relationships with Yourself and Others”
by David S. Narang Ph.D
When I Truly Do Need Others’ Help: Asking. Do you find that when you seek others’ help and emotional support, you are so on fire that you are reduced to a needy consumer of emotional support with nothing to offer? Do you notice also that the helper eventually burns out from your demands and backs away? If so, this short-term, automatic style of seeking help is causing damage to both your self-esteem and your relationships.
Emotional Support. The purpose of this activity is to practice a new way of seeking help now, while you are not feeling as much on fire; that is, while your emotion is at a lowenough level that you can think clearly. It is extremely difficult to learn a new skill while your emotion is skyrocketing, as people do not learn new skills under such intensity. This skill needs to be practiced in advance so you can pull it out of your pocket when you are in the heat of the moment later.
Emotional Support. If, as you complete this exercise, you find it suggests a different path than the one you have been using to get help, consider that this is a poor time to punish yourself for past actions, thus continuing the usual painful emotional downward spiral. This needs to be the time for a little lightness and levity as you set your sights on a happier and healthier future.
Emotional Support. Practice
Emotional Support. Before you ask any loved ones for help and emotional support, you should try to partially pull yourself together first, just a little bit, in order to prevent “spilling” emotions all over them, or you may eventually lead them to burn out or inadvertently push them away while you feel progressively more helpless. In order to gain a little emotional steadiness, try the simple, well-tested method of taking a few slow, deep breaths to calm your thoughts and emotions, with full exhalations, and then ask yourself what type of help you truly need and would benefit from. This is one way to approach seeking help as an empowered person. Ask yourself this question: What is the actual nature of your need from another person when you are in emotional pain?
Emotional Support. Perhaps you feel that ninety-nine percent of the time you feel that you want excellent advice, which you hope will somehow work to extract your pain, as the equivalent of emotional tweezers. Maybe you feel that asking for advice is the only legitimate way to ask for help. Seeking perfect advice may sound as if it is what you want, but actually, what do you truly need? Sometimes you indeed may need or want advice, but if you are in high distress, the first thing you probably need is help to manage that distress. Distress can be reduced simply by knowing that somebody else understands what you are experiencing; in other words, that somebody else feels you. Later, you may need help with advice or solutions, but often, once the distress is reduced, no further help is needed from others.
1) Emotional Support. Who should you seek when you need emotional support and understanding? Whomever you list should be someone who actually has this capacity to hear you emotionally and has demonstrated it in the past, not somebody you merely wish had this capacity.
2) Emotional Support. It helps to be very clear when asking for support so that the other person knows what you need, and it may also be helpful that what you are asking for is specific and thus limited, instead of overwhelming him/her. For example, “Do you have a few minutes? I’m really upset right now. It’s not advice that I need, but it would feel a lot better if you just knew what’s happening and if I just knew that you know.” To make it your own, practice below by writing a sample dialogue of how you would ask someone close to you for support, both by being direct in what you are asking for and by not overwhelming him/her even if you’re overwhelmed. Then imagine saying it with a voice tone that would be most productive in this dialogue, versus using a tone that panics the other person and thus may lead him/her to throw a barrage of unwanted “solutions” at you.
3) Emotional Support. In the relatively less frequent situation where you genuinely need problem solving or advice, whose judgment in decision making do you trust? That is, practice discriminating whom you seek when you need support and listening, whom you seek for advice, and whom you trust for both support and advice.
Emotional Support. Remember, after they listen, you may feel, based on habit, that you need more. You probably don’t need more at that time. To keep the conversation from getting sloppy and burning them out while disempowering yourself, after you have received your support, thank them and then don’t ask for more in that conversation (e.g., don’t move on to discuss other sources of distress in your life, and don’t solicit advice just to keep the support train coming, if advice is not what you really needed). You needed them and they were there for you, so now develop the joy of recognizing that you have received enough. You might also shift to end the conversation, talk about their lives, or just discuss fun things you or they are doing or are interested in.