Finding support through tough times

Gwen Randall-Young

It doesn’t matter what stresses you are dealing with in your life, if you have someone to talk to, they become more bearable. It must be someone who cares about you, and who you trust with your deepest feelings. Burdens are tough to bear alone, and you can easily become discouraged, or lose your perspective.
A true friend is one who can listen compassionately without an overwhelming need to solve your problem for you. Sometimes we just need a sounding board, a way to think out loud.
It is not helpful if the listener becomes emotionally embroiled in the issue, although we often recognize that as a sign of support. Much as you may like to stick together, it can be counterproductive to align yourselves against the perceived “enemy”. This only strengthens the duality and magnifies the conflict.
If it is not a conflict situation, but a matter of grief or loss, a supportive listener will allow for the expression of feeling, but gently steer the conversation away from expressions of hopelessness about the future. At times like that, we need to be reminded of our strength. Often there are people in our lives who would be very helpful to us in times of crisis, but we may tend to shut ourselves off from that support.
Individuals who are generally perceived as the “strong one” in a group or family frequently have the most difficulty in allowing themselves to receive support. They are more comfortable taking care of others than taking care of themselves. But the human soul needs nurturing and nourishing from other human souls, and, ironically, we are stronger if we can accept help, than if we stoically refuse it. Accepting help is a recognition of our interdependence and oneness, while refusal is a choice to remain separate and alone.
Struggles within our souls are often the doorway through which we make deep and loving connections which sustain us through a lifetime. People become closer in times of crisis because the walls come down and our humanness is exposed. Even if the ones we thought we could count on are not there for us, it doesn’t mean we must remain alone. There are always angels waiting in the wings, (no pun intended) if only we recognize their presence.
If you feel there is truly no one you know who can fill that role, or you are not comfortable sharing your inner thoughts and feelings with someone you know, then do not hesitate to reach out to a spiritual leader or professional therapist. You might feel alone, but you do not have to walk alone. Sometimes an objective third party can help to get you on a more fulfilling path. Further, you will be guaranteed confidentiality.
Gwen Randall-Young is an author and award-winning psychologist. For permission to reprint this article, or to obtain books, CDs or MP3s, visit Follow Gwen on Facebook for inspiration.