Why Asking For Help is a Sign of Strength and Cooperation

We still reside in a society where strength is defined by doing things independently.  Our society tells us that to admit that we need help is to admit that we are weak.  Yet did you know that the human body is home to 37.2 trillion cells?  These cells cooperate to form organs.  Organs ultimately work together to create the human body.  It is fascinating how each cell communicates with one another without quarrel or competition.  Through a shared biological imperative, our community of cells communicate, share, cooperate, and thrive as one living organism. 

“We still hold on to the antiquated notion that we don’t need anyone in our lives to help us remain healthy and strong, let along work through our stressors.”

Michael Senko, LCSW-C

This is nature’s law of cooperation.  Without it, our bodies would cease to exist.  Entire ecosystems would fall due to a lack of symbiotic relationships between organisms.  Life exists based on cooperation and mutual aid.  This is demonstrated in tropical rain forests, Gunpowder State park, and even in your own backyard.  Each plant, insect, and species of animal coexists in harmony.  However, we still hold on to the antiquated notion that we don’t need anyone in our lives to help us remain healthy and strong, let alone work through our stressors. 

The term “self-help” is a misnomer.  We do nothing in a vacuum.  We were conceived into this world by people.  The formation of our personality is influenced by people.  Our moods, our successes, our perceived failures, the lessons learned in life – all are based on the relationships we have with others.  There are very few things we learn in life that do not involve other people.  Even “self-help” books are written by others, and requires an acknowledgement of needing help.  Oftentimes, the circumstances that lead us to desire reading such a book are the result of someone or something stirring something in us.  Our behavior and the behavior of others impact our lives, whether we are aware of it or not.  To further illustrate this point, the chair that is supporting you this very moment was once designed, manufactured, and sold by other people. 

“No matter how much we try to believe that we don’t need people to help us in life, we can’t escape the fact that we do… It is a biological drive to commune with others for survival.”

Michael Senko, LCSW-C

No matter how much we try to believe that we don’t need people to help us in life, we can’t escape the fact that we do.  I would like to repeat that this is not weakness, it is a biological drive to commune with others for survival.  The acknowledgement of this can only strengthen our awareness of ourselves and those around us. 

There is an analogy that I like to use to help conceptualize the use of therapy aiding in life’s success:

“Therapy is like a 500 piece puzzle. When we get stuck in trying to find the next piece, a therapist can see the puzzle with an objective view and help put the pieces together. When we stare at the puzzle, we become part of the puzzle.  The therapist is there to help us create the space between us and the issues that we face.” 

We find ourselves – who we truly are – in our relationships.  If we find ourselves in recurrent situations that we are not happy with, it is important for us to understand the common denominator in those situations is ourselves.  The thing is, we don’t see ourselves objectively.  We see what we want to see.  If the lessons that you were taught about yourself when you were younger are those that are negative, your viewpoint about yourself and your reality is going to be skewed.  If you have experienced trauma in your life, once again, the lens in which your relationships and the world in general will also be altered. 

There is no shame in asking for objective help in learning about and finding ways to cope with what might be causing you distress.  We all experience stress in our lives. We all have problems. It is a sign of strength to admit when we need to talk to someone.  Just like the nature of our body’s biological imperative to survive, we need to work cooperatively in order to help us remain healthy in life.

If you’re ready to tap into the strength that comes from asking for help, reach out to one of our therapists today. We can help you gain a more objective perspective on challenges your facing within the safety of a supportive, non-judgmental environment.

Showcase your strength and give us a call today at 443-567-7037!

Experiencing a traumatic event does not mean you or your loved one will go on to develop PTSD.

Fear and anxiety are common reactions during and immediately after a traumatic event. Fear is actually adaptive in these moments, helping the body to defend against danger or avoid it, known as the “fight-or-flight” response. These innate and adaptive responses help to protect us from harm by flooding our body with the stress hormones we need to respond appropriately. Over time, when the body realizes its safe again, those stress hormones will stop pumping through your body and you’ll begin to feel the symptoms dissipate gradually.

Those who continue to experience those symptoms long after the traumatic event has passed may go on to be diagnosed with PTSD. People with PTSD generally feel those same feelings of stress, fear, and anxiety even when they are no longer in danger.

Fortunately, only approximately 7 to 8% of people will experience PTSD in their lives. Considering most of us will experience a traumatic event in our lifetime, these rates are very low.

There are a large number of factors that play a role in whether or not someone may fall into that category and go on to develop PTSD. The National Institute of Mental Health has identified a number of factors that might make someone at greater risk of developing PTSD after a traumatic event:

•            Living through dangerous events and traumas

•            Getting hurt during the event

•            Seeing another person hurt, or seeing a dead body

•            Childhood trauma

•            Feeling horror, helplessness, or extreme fear during the event

•            Having little or no social support after the event

•            Dealing with additional stress after the event (e.g., pain, injury, loss of loved one, job loss)

•            Having a past history of mental illness or substance abuse

 

But there is hope! The National Institute of Mental Health also recognizes a number of important factors that may reduce the risk of going on to develop PTSD following a traumatic event:

•            Seeking out and utilizing social support from friends and family

•            Participating in a support group after a traumatic event

•            Learning to feel positive about your actions during the traumatic event in the fact of danger

•            Having a positive coping strategy (i.e., a healthy way of getting through the bad event and learning from it)

•            Being able to act and respond effectively despite feeling fear

Fortunately, many of the factors that reduce the risk of developing PTSD are things that can be accomplished with the support of a therapist early on after experiencing a traumatic event. Perhaps the greatest two predictors of health after a trauma are good social support systems and maintaining a hopeful, positive outlook.

If you’re struggling after experiencing a traumatic event, there is hope! Treatment with an effective trauma therapist involves education about symptoms, teaching skills that identify the triggers of symptoms, and learning skills to manage and reduce symptoms. Get started on your path to restored health today!

When most of us think about trauma, we tend to think about war, physical or sexual abuse, terrorism, major accidents, and natural disasters. These catastrophic events are often profoundly devastating, and what some refer to as large ‘T’ Traumas. They are extraordinary events that leave survivors feeling powerless and helplessness.

The first criteria required for a diagnosis of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is exposure to actual or threatened death, serious injury, or sexual violence; these are typically large ‘T’ Traumas. Fortunately, these events are relatively uncommon, and the majority of us will be spared from these experiences during our lifetime.

Even among those who are exposed to a large ‘T’ Trauma, only a minority will go on to develop PTSD. For many people, their natural coping mechanisms kick in and the immediate reactions that occur naturally after a large ‘T’ Trauma diminish over time.

How to Know Whether it’s Time to Seek Help for A Traumatic Event

However, individuals do not have to endure one significant large-T Trauma event to be affected. There are a variety of situations that exceed our capacity to cope and lead to an inability to function at our normal levels. While these kinds of events are not inherently life-threatening, they most certainly feel threatening to who you are, what you believe in, and what you think about the world. These kinds of events are small “t” traumas.

Some examples of small “t” traumas include:

  • Divorce
  • Infidelity
  • Severe conflict with your boss, supervisor, or colleagues
  • Having a child
  • Legal trouble
  • Abrupt or extended move or relocation
  • Severe financial difficulty

For some people, one of these events may be enough to overwhelm their capacity for a prolonged period of time. For others, the accumulation of multiple small “t” traumas, especially in a short period of time, can lead to significant distress and trouble with functioning at work, school, or home.

These kinds of events are often downplayed as common experiences, and those struggling to cope sometimes feel ashamed or “weak.” But the reality is, we all struggle from time-to-time with the obstacles life throws at us. Part of healing and recovering from these obstacles includes acknowledging the adversity, leaning on support systems, and taking steps with the guidance of an expert to reclaim the impact it’s having on your life.

The biggest enemy when facing a large “T” or small “t” trauma is avoidance. People engage in a wide variety of behaviors in an attempt to reduce the distress or avoid reminders of the traumatic event (e.g., avoid watching the news, avoid public places, and avoid meaningful relationships). But the longer someone engages in avoidance, the more the distress grows. The only way out of trauma is through it.

But you don’t have to suffer in silence or face the trauma by yourself! There are treatments and techniques that can help. While there are no quick fixes or “cures” for what you have already endured, many people are successful in eradicating the impact of the trauma on their lives with the help of a professional. Plenty more have reported a significant improvement in the quality of their lives.

Reach out for help today and get started on your journey to recovery and growth!