We tend to think of our addictions and mental illnesses as being signs of weakness on our part, moral failings that we are ashamed of and embarrassed by. We beat ourselves up and judge ourselves harshly for our struggles. We constantly replay memories in our minds of when we first became dependent upon our drug of choice, and we desperately wish we could go back in time and change how things took place and what choices we made. We often see ourselves as victims of our addictions rather than as survivors. We fear the stigma that is still attached to addicts and to addiction in general. We fear being judged by other people as much as we judge ourselves. We fear doing the work needed to recover. As a result, we shy away from and resist reaching out for the help we know we need. We push people away, distance ourselves, and even end relationships altogether rather than risk the rejection and judgment we’re so afraid of. We want to appear strong and independent, not weak or vulnerable, so we often will refuse to humble ourselves enough to ask for help. We deny that we have a problem and try to convince others and ourselves that we’re fine, that we’re not actually addicts, and that we’re able to cope and function normally. How can we empower ourselves to reach out for help, especially when we’re so driven by denial, avoidance, escapism and suppression?
Many of us are so prideful that we resist help even when we know we need it and even though we know we’re causing ourselves more suffering through our resistance. We’ve been conditioned to think of needing other people as a sign of weakness and fragility. We want to feel strong. We want to feel independent, especially after years of being dependent on a drug or behavior, and being co-dependent in our relationships. We were taught from an early age that needing help means we’re not strong enough to cope on our own. We can start to transform these limiting beliefs, though, with time, energy and practice. We can shift the damaging beliefs that tell us we’re wrong or shameful, weak or pathetic if we need help from other people. We can start to remind ourselves that all of us need help at some point in our lives, and that we are stronger when we support each other and work together.
We empower ourselves by helping other people and also by allowing ourselves to be helped. There is great strength in making the huge realization that we’re not invincible, that we will sometimes need help and support from other people. It takes tremendous courage and strength to open ourselves up to other people and allow ourselves to be vulnerable enough to let them in. When we let people help us, we benefit from their guidance, wisdom and encouragement, and we in turn offer our own growth and learning experiences that can benefit others along their journeys. The more we practice telling ourselves that there is strength in receiving help, the more we realize that we are actually empowering ourselves by letting other people help us, not disempowering ourselves as we might have thought.