Friday, 11 March 2016

Offering our support

Our friends, family and other loved ones may need our help at times.  If we're decent people, and especially if we're able to empathise with those we love, we offer our support without question.  As much as we want to care for others, however, we must also care for ourselves.

If we have a history of wanting to appear tough, strong, capable and generally in control, it's hard for us to seek help from others.  In families, there is often one individual who takes on the role of being calm in a crisis, of being a strong, safe pair of hands.  They provide emotional, and sometimes more practical, support to other members of the family.

Some people just have it in their nature to care for others, and that's fine.  Where it stops being fine is when that habit of wanting to appear tough, strong and capable reaches the point where we feel we can never, ever ask for support ourselves.  Rather than feeling tough, strong and capable, we have reached a point where we are trying to be invincible, and the sad truth is that we aren't invincible.

We will almost automatically offer our assistance to those we care about, so it can seem that we're doomed to just keep giving our support and receiving little to none in return.  The reality is that we need to stop trying to be invincible, and recognise that the help we need may have already been offered.  At least one of the people you care about - your partner, spouse, a friend or, more rarely, a family member - cares enough about you in return to want to help you.  Your relationship with that person is what all relationships would be in an ideal world: mutually supportive.

If you have a lot of people who want to offer their support in your time of need, then you are very lucky.  It's human nature, unfortunately, for some to advise, tell you what to do, or even go as far as suggesting that they're the only one who can effectively be there for you.  That's not a mutually supportive relationship: that's a relationship that's bordering on being dictatorial.  In truth, you are the one who is best placed to recognise the person, or persons, you want to turn to for assistance, and maybe that will change depending on the particular challenges you are facing at the time.  If they do offer advice, it's your right to either accept or reject that advice.

The important thing is not to take everything on yourself.  As much as you wish it were true, you're not invincible.

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