Ask for Help? Not Me.
Ask for Help? Not Me.
Do you ever feel like you only ask for help when you
are exhausted all other options? Are you uncomfortable to
share emotions? If so, you are not alone. Why? Maybe
it is ingrained in us as humans to be independent. Maybe
it is because we did not like the answer the last time we
sought someone’s advice.
Most of the time, people do not ask for the assistance
they need because they fear that people will think less
of them. But, in fact, the opposite is true. In a recent study
lead by Dr. Huang (2017), participants who asked
questions were perceived as more knowledgeable and
likeable than those who did not. A separate study has
shown that verbalizing feelings can have a significant
therapeutic effect on the brain. Dr. Lieberman (in press)
and his research team found that people who could match an emotion to a human face expressing that emotion had decreased activity in their amygdala (our brain’s emotion processor) compared to people who matched a name to the face. So, talking about your feelings really can make you feel better. If seeking assistance makes us seem smarter and verbalizing our thoughts soothes our brain activity, where can we go for support to try these skills out?
Getting a Fresh Perspective from a Therapist
When I was growing up, my mother could always find the thing that I had lost within minutes. I would search the whole house before admitting that I needed help. How could she find my favorite shoes so fast? She had a fresh perspective of my room and did not spend as much time there as I did. Similarly, your counselor will be able to see your life from a different viewpoint, shedding light as to why it can be easier to talk to a stranger about your problems. Dr. Small (2017) has shown that about 50% of people confide in individuals that they do not consider family or close friends. This separation is why it is easier to hear the advice they are giving you. You see your counselor as a new person too. Just as they have no bias to you, you have no bias towards them. During your first session, you will be able to firmly assign the roles of client and counselor. There is no grey area in the relationship. From those defined roles, you will develop a level of comfort and trust with your counselor. It is in the context of this relationship that you can express your thoughts and feelings. In this way, you can grow and learn and feel better.
Beyond the Talk
Although discussing your feelings can be very helpful and allow you to move forward to achieve life goals, counseling is not all about unloading your secrets and crying on someone’s couch. Counselors are specially trained to lead you toward advancement and can sometimes surprise you in your personal growth. For instance, participating in counseling will teach you valuable life skills. While your counselor cannot and will not fix all your problems themselves, they can empower you to make the changes you seek. Ultimately, counselors help you do the hard work of solving problems yourself. Critical thinking is one skill that you can unexpectedly learn in counseling and it can also help you find purpose in your life. Discussing your strengths and interests with your counselor might lead to increased satisfaction in your careers, hobbies, or relationships. A counselor can provide you with the best-individualized support to accomplish these life improvements. They have a wealth of knowledge specifically relating to you. They might recommend medication management. They know of support groups that could provide you with a like-minded community. They can give you literature to read. Most importantly, the supports that they suggest have been found to help people just like you through years of research and experience, struggling with the same problems you have.
You are not alone. We are here to help. Call our office for more information or an appointment at (904) 277-0027.
Huang, K., M. Yeomans, A.W. Brooks, J. Minson, and F. Gino. "It Doesn't Hurt to Ask: Question-asking Increases Liking." Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 113, no. 3 (September 2017): 430–452.
Memarian, N., Torre, J. B., Haltom, K. E., Stanton, A. L., & Lieberman, M. D. (in press). Neural activity during affect labeling predicts expressive writing effects on well-being: GLM and SVM approaches. Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience.
Small, M. L. (2017). Someone to talk to. New York, New York: Oxford University Press.
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