• Chloe Hedley

Reach out to Help out

Updated: May 8

When we reach out for support, we don't just allow ourselves to receive the support we need, we give our loved ones the opportunity to give support. We also may even give people who are unsure about reaching out, implicit permission to reach out, too. In receiving, we give. And in giving, we receive.

We are social beings, neurobiologically wired for connection with others. Our survival and wellbeing depend on it. As babies, we are helpless; instinctually dependent on our caregivers to meet our every need from feeding, emotional soothing to protection from predators.

From the womb into the world we use preverbal communication to ‘reach out’ until we learn more sophisticated ways of connecting and communicating our needs. As we reach adulthood, our needs change. We become independent, though reaching out is integral to our wellbeing.

We are socialised into the world through learned experiences, behaviours, habits, communication styles and ways of relating. How we learn to relate to ourselves, with others and to be in relationship is especially defined in our early years of development.

In the same vein cultural, social norms & values, rituals and narratives translate and evolve through generations. Likewise, traumas negotiate their way through generations.

The wiring of our brain, our ability to self-regulate our nervous system and unconscious and conscious understandings of ‘appropriate’ behaviour are all strongly influenced by our environment.

How we are in relationship to another literally shapes us physically and emotionally. We are all interconnected.

What’s your reaching out style?

Messages we received may have been explicit for example ‘its weak to reach out to others for support’ or ‘don’t trust anyone’.

Implicit messages might be, having an attentive and attuned caregiver so the learned life lesson translates into ‘there is point in reaching out and connecting, it helps me feel better when I’m distressed’.

On the flip side, an emotionally unavailable caregiver might unintentionally give the message ‘there is no point in reaching out, no one cares or can or will help’

We might have tried to reach out once, been rejected, felt shame so avoided doing it ever again.

Nothing is set in stone…bringing the unconscious into our conscious awareness allows us to make active choices to change our patterns of relating to benefit our wellbeing. This is what psychotherapy is all about. removing blocks where we are stuck, for better health and wellbeing.

Consider/reflect on the below:

  • When I feel stressed, distressed or upset I….

  • When other people know I am struggling I feel…. Why?

  • Is it okay to I cry in front of others? Why?

  • Who is ‘safe’ to reach out to and who isn’t? How come?

  • I make light of my situation/my feelings with friends when really I feel…

  • I trust that other people will support me in my distress.

  • It is okay to ask for help.

There is no right or wrong here. It's about you understanding yourself in a way that is helpful to you in the here and now as well as in the long term so you can let in and give yourself the emotional and social nourishment needed to thrive.

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