When living with addiction and mental illness, there are some fundamental habits we have that can negatively impact our experience with recovery and our ability to get well. One of our most detrimental habits is our inability to allow people to help us. We’re afraid of being a burden on our loved ones. We’re afraid of being judged or looked down upon. We’re afraid of confiding in people about our painful experiences because we feel ashamed of ourselves, embarrassed and disappointed in ourselves. We build walls around our hearts to shut people out, and when we’re unable to let them in, we grow more distant from them and isolate ourselves more, causing us even more pain in the process. We worsen our depression, anxiety and other mental health issues. We might find ourselves using our drugs of choice in response to our feelings of loneliness, isolation and despair. We feel disconnected from other people and unsure of how to open ourselves up to them. We feel alienated, shunned, ostracized and stigmatized, especially in communities and families that don’t understand addiction. When we’re ready to take on our recovery, allowing ourselves to receive help and support will be one of the greatest things we can do for ourselves.
In our individualistic society, we tend to think that we have to do everything on our own, otherwise we’ll be inadequate, inferior to other people, dependent on others, and weak. We think that needing help means we’re a failure, and when we can’t live up to our own expectations for strict independence, we feel bad about ourselves and assume we don’t measure up to other people. The truth is, there’s nothing wrong with needing help. In fact, we all need help at some point in our lives, whether we’re struggling with addiction or a mental health issue or any other challenge in our lives. It is a sign of strength to be able to humble ourselves, know when we need help and then reach out to others. We’re giving ourselves a tremendous gift when we allow other people to support us. We stand to receive compassion, understanding, love and encouragement, all of which are crucial to our feelings of wellness and wholeness as we work to heal. We stand to be uplifted, motivated and inspired in moments when we’re feeling weak and disheartened. We stand to learn so much from other people and their experiences.
Allowing others to help and support us is a gift we can give ourselves in our recovery, and when we stop denying ourselves this very necessary form of love, we give ourselves a much better chance at being able to heal ourselves.