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Originally Posted On: https://jameshaggertyrecovery.com/blog/relying-on-others-important/
As we exist in the modern world, many of us have become very proud of being independent and self-sufficient. Our culture and society depend on being strong individuals, taking sole responsibility for the circumstances in our lives, and pulling our own weight without asking for help. However, it is incredibly important to seek help and we should not see this as a weakness, but as an opportunity to learn from others and grow. As you begin to find comfort in asking for and receiving help when you need it, a deep feeling of gratitude emerges.
Why Relying on Others Is a Good Thing
As individual humans, we are defined by our behavior. All of our behaviors and responses to other people’s behaviors are based on the experiences that we have accumulated in our lives. Being alive in today’s world means dealing with a vast array of different problems and obstacles, and a lot of the time, we are being rushed to find a solution in a very short time. When we are operating solely as individuals in the world, it is nearly impossible to rise to success merely based on the information we have accumulated through our own experiences. This is why we need strong communities in our lives, to provide insight and support to help us be successful in our own way.
When we can rely on other people, we are being genuine and recognize that we can not do everything alone. This humbling feeling is important in developing as individuals and within a community. Many may fear asking for help, because of worries that it may make us feel insignificant. In reality, asking for help and allowing gratitude to flow through you can help you feel happier as well.
There are a number of different situations in our lives in which we may need help from others to overcome a challenge that has presented itself. As a result of illness or injury, we may find ourselves unable to complete otherwise normal tasks. In other positive changes in our lives, we may also need to call on others for assistance and advice — such as in the event of welcoming a newborn or moving into more responsibility in the workplace. No matter the situation, it is critical to ask for and receive help from a place of gratitude, in the realization that our communities are there to support us as well.
Why Gratitude Is Good
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The feeling of gratitude is imperative to not only be able to ask for help, but to exist in society as well. We are not operating alone in this world, we are surrounded by an incredible number of individuals who are just as complex as we are, and doing just what we are trying to do too — be human. Being grateful means feeling appreciation and recognizing the value of others’ actions. The more that we can approach situations and reach out to others from a place of gratitude, the more we can communicate appreciation and serve as part of a community.
Benefits of Being Grateful
There are a number of benefits to regularly practicing gratitude, including being able to make more valuable connections with other individuals. When we feel helpless, it could partially be because we do not know who to approach for support. If we are regularly grateful for those around us, we not only show good manners, but we show that we are appreciative and recognize that people are not just acting for themselves. Regularly being grateful can help you make new friends out of acquaintances or newly met people. If you acknowledge how coworkers, colleagues, or even strangers positively impact you, you may form a deepened relationship with them as well.
Acting from a place of gratitude is beneficial to your mental, physical, and emotional health as well, which is so important during recovery. If you can sustain gratitude and feel appreciative for your life and those around you, toxic emotions like envy and resentment will take the back seat to empathy. Being habitually grateful can also increase your mental constitution and help with focus.
Gratitude is a genuine heartfelt emotion, and stepping fully into a gratitude-focused lifestyle can also reduce stress and increase self-esteem. When you recognize and appreciate others for their actions, you are also more likely to act in support of others. I know firsthand how this can help you through recovery and be there to help others through the process as well.
This feedback loop results in an increased sense of confidence within yourself and may allow you to be free of certain stressors in your life. This can lead to another much-needed and often forgotten aspect of a healthy mind and lifestyle — regular good nights of sleep!
Overcoming the Challenge of Relying on Others
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It may feel completely unnatural and nerve-racking to look to others for help, no matter what the situation may be, and especially for overcoming addiction. Fears may arise about what the person you are asking for help will think, whether they will be willing to help you, or what emotions you will feel when you finally do ask for help. You will need to engage in acceptance, humility, and authenticity when you are seeking help from others.
The first step in seeking guidance from another individual is to fully accept the situation at hand as it is. Take a step back and look at your situation realistically. The goal is not to block out difficulties, but to be able to approach obstacles from a perspective in which you feel you can overcome them with the guidance and assistance of others. With the realization that we need to seek out help from others, we also experience the realization that we are not on our own in the world. We will also need to be vulnerable and genuine as we seek help from others, which terrifies the ego.
Understanding the Ego
The ego is the part of our consciousness that constantly needs to feel justified, superior, and dominant in value compared to other people. It’s more than just the voice inside our head, and it seeks to identify with the pain body. In essence, the ego is incredibly fragile and feels the need to protect itself. In society today, overly egotistical personalities create the stigma that we do not need the help of others in life and the attitude that we should persist in our difficulties without seeking help.
But, by accepting our need for help and allowing others to provide that support, we also experience vulnerability. The ego is frightened by vulnerability and will begin defending itself by creating stories and dramas to convince you that you do not need help and that you should be living in whatever struggles you are facing in your life at this time. The ego bows down heightened awareness and realism as it exists in constant resistance to what is occurring in the present moment. We can also quell the ego by being engaged in gratitude for the others around us and the support we receive from them. It is a true challenge to overcome the ego and surrender to our own helplessness, but with wisdom and strength, we can accept that we have limitations in our struggles with addiction or whatever we are facing.
The Importance of Community
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The essence of community is to have a strong base of people in our lives including friends, family, loved ones, peers, partners, mentors, and role models throughout life. As we operate in the world today, being part of a flourishing social group or community is more rare than it used to be. However, the need for support from others is still an essential need for finding success in our lives.
Many people are told throughout their lives that strong individuals are independent and do not need to rely on others to be successful. Because this message is constant, it can be hard to find belief in anything else. However, humans have always been communal animals, and we have always sought out guidance, support, and teachings from other members of our society. It is absolutely natural that we do rely on others, ask for help, as well as the opposite — that we are reliable and willing to help the other people around us. This is why, in recovery, the idea of having a sponsor is so highly recommended.
Signs of Being Over-Reliant on Others
There is, of course, a need to be strongly independent and self-reliant for certain parts of our lives, and becoming over-reliant on other people is, in a sense, giving a part of yourself away. When you’re overly reliant on other people, you may find yourself always doing things for other people and their approval, when frankly, you don’t want to. You may also recognize that you are avoiding doing things because you fear that other people may disapprove of your actions — of course, they may only be trying to help you do what is in your best interest.
Being overly reliant on others can result in a situational shift in your personality. You may begin to feel that you are not exhibiting normal behavior or taking on aspects of other people’s personalities. You may also realize that you are often seeking reassurance that your actions are sufficient or that you are overall “good enough” in the eyes of those you are dependent on. Another sign of overreliance on others may be a fear of being alone, or as a result, asking more out of relationships than others can give to you.
There is a notable difference between being abashedly independent and ego-driven, convinced that you do not need the support that others can offer you, and being self-directed and taking responsibility for creating your own life as an individual. You still recognize that you need to seek guidance from others when the limits of your own experience keep you from being able to overcome an obstacle, but you also take steps towards directing your own life.
These steps include choosing and setting your own goals, pursuing them, and not waiting for them to manifest at the hands of someone else. As a self-directed individual, you also make your own decisions while still taking in ideas from others you trust.
Living a self-directed life means removing yourself from toxic situations as well. You must recognize what aspects of your life are holding you back from your success and meeting your full potential. I know that in recovery, these factors are especially important to recognize. Remember that self-direction does not mean that you are in opposition with others, as blind opposition is another mechanic of the ego to keep you believing that you need only yourself in life.
Taking this self-directed point of view into your own life and recovery journey has a number of benefits. Individuals who engage in self-direction will likely find improvements in mental health, as they will have experience with stress management strategies, time management, asserting themselves, and maintaining stimulation and variety in their lives.
Recognizing Your Responsibility
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You may not have all the experience you need to accomplish every task or overcome every obstacle in the world, but neither does anyone else. What you can do is take responsibility for your life. That means a number of things — take responsibility for what you are capable of doing, take responsibility for knowing when you need to reach out for support, and take responsibility for helping others and showing gratitude and appreciation for those around you. An attitude of gratitude gets me through so much…
When you do all of these things, you’re sure to have a better chance of successful long-term recovery. You are not alone in this — reach out foif you need someone to talk to.