We all do it; have a hard time sharing with people when we’re truly having a hard time. It seems easier to hide away and lick your wounds in solitude, so no one knows exactly how human we are.
I’ve noticed a trend. A lot of my clients will call and cancel or not show up when they are having a hard time. I know, it’s hard to share your pain with someone. It can be like adding insult to injury; especially if we’ve had the experience in the past of sharing our pain with someone; only to have them respond in an unsupportive way. Maybe you have been shamed, blamed or laughed at when you were in pain. That can make it hard to want to talk to someone and ask for help.
Here’s the thing; we’re neuro-biologicaly wired to seek connection with people. We do it naturally. Evolutionarily, we lived in packs; it’s how we survived. Someone had to be awake at night; ready to fight off the saber tooth tigers. When we do seek connection when we are in pain; and our plea for help is answered, there’s no replacement for the joy we feel. It’s the joy of connection.
There’s something to say though, about finding those people that are worthy of you sharing your pain. The people, your tribe, that will fight off a saber tooth when you are sleeping; because they love you so much. Not every one is cut out for that position in your life; but they are out there.
If you haven’t found those people yet, or aren’t sure if someone in your life is that type of person, there are ways to develop that type of relationship. Brene’ Brown has a wonderful metaphor for developing trust with someone. She says it is like adding marbles to a glass jar. Each interaction with someone in which you share something intimate with them and they respond in a trustworthy way;you take a handful of marbles and add it to the jar. One day, you have a full jar (they’ve become your saber tooth gladiator). If, for some reason, they take the jar and smash it on the ground, you either start to build trust again, or choose to leave the relationship. Does that make sense? The moral of Brene’s metaphor is that building trust with someone takes time. You cannot expect someone you just met to jump in and listen to all your problems and allow you to lean on them for support for your deepest issues. That, sometimes, feels safer than building an authentic relationship where you experience give and take.
You also need to be vulnerable to build the kind of relationship that has a strong foundation of trust. That can be a big barrier to building authentic relationship if, when you are having a hard time, you struggle with being vulnerable and asking for help. The thing is, people usually respond really well when they realize you are human and struggle, just like they do. When you are vulnerable, people see themselves in you and are able to connect with the shared experience of pain, and, usually, are able to give a helping hand, because they have needed one themselves before.
Sometimes, people reach out a helping hand and end up saying something that is not helpful, and that hurts. If you care about the relationship and have been building trust thus far, go ahead and let them know that what they said was not helpful and why. Use “I” statements and label thoughts, emotions and observations. For example: When you said that I have been depressed for a long time, I observed you had a frown on your face and I had the thought that you are disappointed and I felt sad. You can also follow this with a question, is it true you are disappointed that I am depressed? This example is matter of fact and not filled with blame for the other person or yourself. It gives the person information about what is really going on with you and the opportunity to discount your perception, which is so valuable in trusting relationships. We often make up stories about how people think or feel about us, and relationships can grow exponentially when we foster authentic communication.
If, for some reason, you try building trust with someone and they continually break your trust; you know they are not someone to call when you are feeling down and need someone supportive. But don’t use this as an excuse to hide away and allow your upset to fester and get bigger.
I have had the experience over and over again, when a client chooses to share something they thought was so embarrassing or shameful; they find out that I’m human too and all I want to do is provide kindness and compassion and support through whatever difficult they are experiencing. Taking the step to receiving support is courageous and allows you to transform your pain and create freedom. They find out that I am a willing ally, ready to dive in to the dark parts of their psyche to shine the light of awareness; and with this awareness it will bring them choice. Choice in what direction to go and how to transform their pain.
If you are curious about receiving support, you can schedule a free 15 minute phone consultation and we can discuss what working with me looks like.
You can also get information on my background and approach on my About page .
Love to you,