You know, as in not a friend.
My client said this to me as I was working with her to seek more support.
Not because I’m tired of working with her! Quite the opposite. She is often my muse.
However, as I’m supposed to be helping her — not the other way around — I frequently remind her of our treatment plan where she stated she wants to GET MORE SUPPORT.
After all, ethically I can’t help put her kid to bed or do the administrative work for one of her businesses.
I’m a Mental Health Therapist, an LPC and M.Ed. Unlike your friends and the stranger next to you on the bus, train or airplane, I do get paid to listen.
Seriously, I get paid to do a lot more than just listen. Otherwise, why all the schooling, years of supervision, and follow-up CEUs? On our best days, I lead you to examine your inner life, resolve the traumas, and become your most evolved self. Can friends do that?
Well, yes. Yes they can. The non-toxic ones anyway. And they’re free.
However I also provide a regular appointment day and time where I am — by law and ethics — required to focus only on you. For 50 minutes.
However, we all need more support than 50 minutes a week.
Many clients need help with asking for, receiving, and accepting support. For “normal neurotics” (my own therapist’s phrase) being strong and independent is often a prideful part of their personalities. It was mine, too, when I was first in therapy.
Are you the working wife and mother or husband and father who does it all? Stop that. Sit down with your spouse and make a list of all the things it takes to make a household efficient and enjoyable. Start by each picking things they enjoy or don’t mind doing on the list. Then divide the rest in an equitable way. You can do this with kids, too.
Do you need help in your business? Don’t do what I did for too long and try to do it all. When I finally hired a millennial to digitalize and organize my notes and billing online, my life got at least 50% better. And she freed up time for me to write more.
I paid her $20 an hour, but she was worth more, and she worked extremely fast. If she weren’t off doing an internship at Disney, I’d still be employing her.
She saved me time, money, and the frustration of doing all my own cyber organizing in my typical hunt-and-peck way.
Do you have employees? Do you have children? Then delegate, delegate, delegate. Will they do it as well as you would? You won’t know until you let them try. Thinking we can do everything best is a bit grandiose, and is something we normal neurotics often believe that isn’t really true.
How do you know if what you’re thinking is on the neurosis scale? Ask yourself the three Cognitive Behavioral questions:
- Is is real?
- Is it rational?
- Is it true?
The answers don’t have to be all No or all Yes. Exploring the interface is part of the process.
Most of the these type thoughts become life decisions and are made when we are children and have no filters or deeper understanding of how life works. As children, everything feels like it’s about us, toward us, or coming from us.
We are self-referencing while also vulnerable as children. When we make decisions about ourselves, the world, life, and other people while very young, we go through life believing and trying to prove the decisions were the right ones.
Not being allowed or able to ask for support is only one life decision many of us made. I’ll cover more in additional articles. For now, start noticing if what you are telling yourself about other people and your needs is real, true, or even rational. If you have even one “no” answer, chances are you’re dealing with an early, flawed life decision.
How do you change it? Start asking for help. You may have to ask more than once, and you may have to ask several people before you get a yes. Ask anyway.
I was a single mother. Once, I dropped my son off at acting class, and when it came time to pick him up I was in bed with intestinal issues that meant there was no way I could even make it to the car, much less drive and pick him up.
I called my sister who was still at work and couldn’t do it. I called another friend who was retired but couldn’t for some other reason. It took calling six people before one said she could pick him up.
Did I feel sad while making these calls? Yes.
Did I let myself believe no one loved or cared for us — that no one would ever come through for me and my son? No.
I worked through those feelings as I made the calls, and believed that the ones who said “no” would have come through for us if they could. The one who did is forever in my heart.
The moral of the story is: Ask for support and ask some more, and accept it when offered if you need the help. Asked for gifts are still gifts.
And when friends and other support aren’t enough? Find a good therapist who gets paid to listen and so much more.
. . .
I have written permission to use this client’s quotes. I’m so grateful, because she is a treasure trove of them.
This post was previously published on New Choices.
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