Asking for what you want
When life is difficult clients sometimes feel like they are battling for survival. When things feel like a fight our human tendency is to tighten up and brace ourselves. At its worst, our 'fight, flight, freeze mechanism' is activated and the ability to think straight or even breathe freely can be at risk.
When you face adversity your mind may have a heightened awareness of threats, and be much less aware of the good things that are happening alongside your difficulties. It makes sense that when you feel at risk in some way your focus would be on what you fear, our survival instinct is pretty strong after all.
However, this natural, protective instinct can have a side-effect. Closed up, it is unlikely you will notice who might want or be able to help you. You may not feel able to ask for what you need. Sometimes you may even be angry with people for not providing what you haven't yet asked them for, expecting them to mind-read what you want from them.
When this situation goes on over a period of time, relationships can really suffer. The gaps between what you might expect, and what you get will become wider and wider unless you are able to share your needs. Asking does not always mean you will get what you ask for of course, but it does at least give others the opportunity to choose to help.
Taking some time to be clear about your support network can be helpful. When I was doing this exercise with a client they were surprised to notice that those they assuming 'should' be closest were not the people they felt they could rely on, while others that they had not been so focused on were quietly and kindly getting on with providing practical support. Subtle changes improved how they felt day to day.
Why not take some time to think about the people in your life? You might want to reflect on how you contribute to their well-being, as well as how they might lighten your day. Being clear what would help may make a big difference to both you and those around you.
It can feel very difficult to reach out and ask for support. You may feel vulnerable or uncertain, or asking may simply be too much right now. You may not feel there is anyone there that can be a support for you, or you may fear rejection. You may simply want to talk about how to improve relationships and get the support you need. In all of these situations counselling can be a useful aide.
About the author
Fe Robinson is a Psychotherapist and Clinical Supervisor working in Durham on Mondays and Wednesdays. Her mission is to enable clients to find peace and contentment, whatever their life circumstances. Fe is UKCP accredited and BACP registered, offers EMDR, and holds a Diploma in Supervision. Fe works both in the NHS and in private practice.
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