For many of us, both men and women, it’s very difficult to ask for help or even admit to ourselves that we need it.

There can be many reasons for this.

Some of us come from religious or cultural backgrounds that tell us sickness and disease are a result of moral failings so if we just try harder – or have more faith – things will get better.  Or that we deserve the things we are going through since it was our own decisions that got us into our present state. This line of thought can be especially debilitating when our problems are not simply physical pain or illness, but mental and emotional states we just can’t seem to shake. We can tell ourselves that we just need to ‘tough it out’, or that we must be weak, since other people in even worse situations seem to be able to handle them without any trouble.

Maybe we value ‘strength’ so much that we think we will be failures for not being able to handle our problems on our own. This can be compounded by the societal ideal of the ‘rugged individualist.’ We see strength as the ability to ignore our problems and keep moving forward.

Others of us may feel that we don’t deserve the help we so badly want – that our situation isn’t really that bad compared to other people’s.

Whatever the reasons, the barriers to asking for help can often be the main thing keeping us from improving our situation and living to our fullest potential.

Sometimes a little help can go a long way

I’ve been practicing Tai-chi for the last ten years. Early in my time of studying this art I identified what felt like a knot in my upper abdomen. It didn’t seem like a real big deal; I thought, ‘If I just keep stretching and doing my solo exercises it should go away.’ Yet seven or eight years later, despite having identified the problem and diligently working on it, the knot persisted. It interfered with my breathing and ability to relax my torso. This in turn affected my hips and waist and felt like a permanent obstacle to advancing further in my Tai-chi practice.

Yet I persisted in trying to figure it out by myself. To be certain, living in a small town in Alaska gave me limited options for seeking out talented body workers, but they were not entirely absent. My main obstacle was the stubborn insistence that I could – even should – be able to take care of myself without help.

Recently, after moving to Grand Rapids and joining the Wellness Collective, I began exchanging treatments with other practitioners. After just a couple of sessions with fellow practitioners – over the course of just two weeks – the knot I thought was permanent had about 90% disappeared. They helped me identify emotions and beliefs I had been holding onto that contributed to my physical discomfort. And under the skilled hands of body workers I could feel the knot soften and begin to dissolve.

Physically and mentally, the dissolving of the knot began a cascade of changes that amazed me. My hips were more flexible than they had ever been, I could sink my weight into my legs with ease, and I could sit in stalled traffic without losing my cool. Beyond that, I found that my relationships to people around me became deeper, and that some of the barriers to connection that I had accepted as part of my nature had significantly lessened.

Why had I waited so long to get help? My own stubborn belief that I was strong enough – and that somehow it mattered to be that strong. In other words, my illusions caused my suffering.

What does it look like to ask for help?

Asking for help doesn’t have to be drastic.

Sometimes it can be as simple as calling a trusted friend and having a conversation about what’s bothering us rather than trying to work it out on our own. Often saying things out loud instead of letting them bounce around inside our heads can put them in perspective and allow new ideas to form. We are social creatures and benefit from genuine interactions with those we care about.

Other times we need to seek help from people who have skills that we and our friends don’t have. It is helpful to realize that those of us who practice the healing arts aren’t necessarily exceptional people. We just have been privileged to learn skills that not everyone has been exposed to. We come to our practices not to judge the people seeking help, but with a desire to share what we’ve learned so others can benefit.

Where do I go for help?

If you feel you’ve exhausted your resources, it may be time to look for someone with training
and skills that can help you.

Perhaps you have a trusted practitioner already. If not, a good place to start looking is the
Wellness Collective Practitioners page. With such a broad range of talented people working
here, there is a good chance you will find someone who fits what you are looking for. Or if you
aren’t sure who seems like the best fit, it is okay to ask for help in that matter as well. Because we
are interested in people getting the best results, we practitioners regularly refer people to
one another.

Wishing you health and happiness,

Shane Monroe L.Ac.
East Wind Acupuncture

 

About: Shane Monroe is a licensed acupuncturist practicing at the Wellness Collective. He has successfully treated a wide range of conditions, and especially enjoys helping people find a sense of calm in the midst of this turbulent world we live in.

 

Photo credit: Ümit Bulut on Unsplash