Do you tend to retreat into a shell when you’re having a hard time emotionally? You’re not alone.
In a heartfelt interview with Variety, Kaley Cuoco, star of HBO Max’s The Flight Attendant, divulged how she found the strength to ask for help as she was struggling through her divorce – which the American actor, 36, said was “one of the hardest years of my life”.
“It was the first time that I started therapy – I’ve been very open about that,” Cuoco said. “I started at the beginning of season two, just because I was going through so much right before we started shooting. It was horrible. And I developed a stress rash that ran all the way down my body for three straight months that wouldn’t go away. I literally, like, had fire on my leg for three months. I could barely walk.”
Cuoco explained that seeking support and moving in with her co-star Zosia Mamet helped to take some of the strain off, sharing: “I really needed someone with me. I was really losing my mind. She had an Airbnb, and it only lasted so long. And I was like, ‘Why don’t you just move in with me?’ Like, it was the loneliest I’ve ever felt, and I am not really someone to share that.”
The Big Bang Theory star’s words probably ring true for lots of people – especially if you are someone who usually finds hard to share when you’re going through a hard time.
If that is the case, how can you get more comfortable with taking that step?
Ask for support in small ways
Dr Claire Vowell, Clinical Lead at Limbic (limbic.ai), believes that being able to ask for help is a process – and it is something you can build up to. So, if the idea of asking for support feels like a scary leap, think about it in terms of one small step at a time.
“Practise asking for support in smaller ways – it gets easier with time,” says Vowell. “It’s often easier to frame the subject as a conversation, rather than directly asking for support. For example, saying to a friend, ‘Could we have a chat about xyz’, rather than saying, ‘I need your help with xyz’. Sometimes just letting a friend know you’re having a tough time can be a good way to start the conversation.”
Question why you find it hard to say you’re struggling
If you are finding it hard to reach out to people around you for support, or even just admit that you’re having a bit of a hard time, there may well be a reason for that.
Getting curious about this, and ultimately more aware of what might be going on for you, could be really helpful.
“Try to become aware of your own beliefs around asking for help. If you find it hard to ask for support, it’s likely that you have a set of beliefs that are getting in the way,” says Vowell.
“For example, were you told that asking for help was weak when you were growing up? Or perhaps you have come to believe that other people will always let you down. Once you are aware of your limiting beliefs, you can work on trying to challenge them and reframe them.”
Pick your person and timing
It’s ok to have boundaries and be selective about who you share what with, and when. So giving some thought to who you feel comfortable opening up to will help you take that step.
“Choose the best person to ask, make sure it’s someone you trust and feel comfortable with. Then consider the best time to ask, for example you don’t want to catch them when they are particularly busy or stressed,” Vowell suggests.
If a friend is going through a tough time too, maybe check they have the emotional resources to support you right now – we’re all human after all. This isn’t about taking on the role of a therapist, but just sharing and being there for each other. Being more open may actually bring you closer together.