As humans we are wired to think and believe that we are born equal. It’s the journey which puts us in different contexts or life experiences. It’s therefore not easy for us to come to an acceptance that some of us have less of somethings in life when compared to others. It could be power, authority, money, health, family, relationships, food and many more.
So when someone comes asking for your help, it can be very humiliating or traumatic for the person asking. Remember, the default position for us is that we are all equal. The person seeking help has to deal with his ego and self-esteem. The act in the persons mind is considered as conceding the ground that you have more power or influence or even ability than the seeker.
You find that most misuse this power without even understanding the context of the help seeker. We judge people based on their current state or appearance and start to behave in a way that compounds the sense of trauma or humiliation that person is already suffering.
I have had leaders asking me to teach people in their organizations to seek help when needed. I tell them it is pointless to teach people to seek help as the person giving help or having the power to give help is not going to change. The fact that they are asking me in itself demonstrates that people working in their organization have been humiliated when they sought help. No one likes to be in that state for long and before time people stop asking. Statements like ‘why don’t you figure out for yourselves’; ‘don’t you have brains’; ‘why don’t you grow up’ and so on can be from the many unintentional one’s which would have accentuated the problem.
There is a need for you to be empathetic to people who come seeking help. You have the power not to abuse but to use and help. You are equally a seeker as much as a giver. Do not push people away when they come seeking cause you have a great responsibility.
How many come to you seeking help? It’s a good measure of how you have dealt with seekers in the past.
Sometimes the pressure to smile and keep smiling against all odds, shuts the doors for people to express or discuss how they actually feel. We have been conditioned early to answer to a ‘How are you?’ question with a ‘I am fine’; ‘great’ etc. We have not been taught to respond to this question with actually how we feel in the moment. People should know that it’s okay to be not okay. That’s the only way discussion will take place.
Talking about how you feel in the moment acts as a great safety valve to release pent up emotions which eat you away slowly and gradually like termites until its too late. We understand depression only as the point when someone visits a shrink and is in extreme distress. Rarely do we indulge in discussions around the type of depression which afflicts us without actually exploding the way we know of.
The problem is accentuated with the stigma associated with the use of the word ‘depression’ to describe genuine mental distress in people. The need to project a positive self-image and all the talk of positive thinking and positive outlook actually causes people to shy away from addressing the issues as they occur.
The ever increasing cases of stress related or accentuated health problems in the world is a pointer to the fact that somewhere we are missing the point. Talking about how you feel and encouraging others to do so is an excellent way to avoid or overcome problems of a depressive mind.
Imagine if your response to the same question ‘How are you?’ is ‘Not feeling good’ or ‘I am upset’ (only if you feel that way). What do you think such a response will do in the moment? Most certainly it will open the door for some conversation around why you feel the way you feel. I am not suggesting that it will give you answers or quick-fixes for your problems. Talking about how you feel at times and the reasons you feel that way will in itself throw up solutions.
It’s important to talk not just in your personal life but also in your workplace or for that matter any walk of life. It just might aid your mental and physical health.
So let’s encourage people to talk…. Let’s lead by example. Denial is no way to feel good.
Share if you agree. You might just contribute to saving a life!