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  • Writer's pictureTina

The Paradox of Seeking Help: Unraveling Our Reluctance to Share Struggles

Updated: Apr 29

In a world that often celebrates self-reliance and stoicism, admitting to struggles or seeking help can feel like navigating a complex labyrinth of social expectations and personal fears.

This paradox, where the act of seeking assistance is both a universal need and a common fear, merits a closer examination to understand the underlying factors that make sharing our struggles and asking for help so daunting.

Disclaimer: this blog post contains affiliate links. As a member of the Amazon Affiliates Program, I earn a small commission on qualifying purchases. 

Trauma can Make Us Reluctant

Trauma has a profound impact on our ability to seek help, often embedding a deep-seated reluctance within us to reach out. This reluctance is rooted in the way trauma rewires the brain, affecting our perceptions of safety, trust, and vulnerability.

In his seminal book, The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma, Bessel van der Kolk M.D. delves into the complex ways in which trauma survivors carry their experiences within their bodies and minds, long after the traumatic events have passed.

The book highlights how trauma can silence the voice that seeks help, as survivors may fear re-traumatization or struggle with feelings of shame and isolation. Van der Kolk's work underscores the importance of understanding trauma's deep-rooted effects on the human psyche and physiology to foster compassion, create safe spaces for healing, and encourage the pursuit of support.

It's a powerful reminder that healing from trauma involves acknowledging its impact on our capacity to ask for help, and the crucial role of therapeutic interventions in restoring the sense of safety and trust necessary for recovery.

Fear of Being Perceived as a Failure For Seeking Help

The feeling that you can't ask for help because it might reveal you as a failure is a profoundly isolating experience. This perception is rooted in a society that often equates success with independence and sees asking for assistance as a sign of weakness or incompetence.

It's a silent struggle, where the fear of being judged or labeled as inadequate can weigh heavily on one's shoulders, casting a shadow over the very notion of seeking support.

This internalized belief can turn every challenge into a solitary battle, where the pressure to perform and succeed without external aid becomes an unspoken mandate. It breeds a cycle of self-doubt and self-criticism, where the act of reaching out for help is misconstrued as an admission of defeat rather than an intelligent strategy for overcoming obstacles.

The irony is that in many cases, the most successful outcomes are achieved through collaboration and the willingness to learn from others.

The truth is, recognizing when you need help and having the courage to ask for it is not a sign of failure but a testament to self-awareness and strength. It reflects a mature understanding that no one is expected to navigate life's complexities alone.

Breaking this cycle begins with redefining success not as the absence of difficulties but as the ability to persevere, learn, and grow from them—with the support of others when needed.

Admitting you need help is an act of bravery. It opens the door to connections and solutions previously obscured by the fear of judgment. It's a step toward dismantling the harmful myths that bind us to unrealistic standards of perfection and self-reliance.

In embracing vulnerability, we find our true strength, not as isolated individuals, but as interconnected beings capable of extraordinary resilience when we allow ourselves to seek and offer support.

The Stigma of Vulnerability

One of the most significant barriers to seeking help is the pervasive stigma attached to vulnerability. Societal norms have long equated strength with silence and stoicism, painting a picture of virtue in the ability to handle challenges independently.

This narrative fosters a culture where individuals fear that admitting to struggles may be perceived as a sign of weakness, incompetence, or failure. Seeking help is still seen as a private, often taboo topic which is problematic, don't you agree?

The pressure to maintain an image of control and self-sufficiency often leads to the suppression of one's needs, silencing calls for help before they can even be voiced.

Fear of Judgment and Misunderstanding

Closely tied to the stigma of vulnerability is the fear of judgment and misunderstanding. Many individuals hesitate to share their struggles due to concerns about how they will be perceived by others.

There's an apprehension that others might not understand the gravity of their situation or, worse, might judge them for their inability to cope.

This fear can be particularly acute in environments with a high emphasis on competition or in communities where certain types of struggles are not openly discussed or acknowledged.

The Illusion of Burdening Others

Another reason sharing struggles feels so daunting is the belief that doing so will burden others. People often hesitate to reach out for help because they do not want to impose their problems on family, friends, or colleagues, assuming that these individuals have their own challenges to deal with.

This illusion of burdening others overlooks the fact that human connections thrive on mutual support and understanding. Sharing struggles not only allows for the possibility of receiving support but also strengthens relationships by fostering deeper empathy and connection.

Navigating the Digital Age

The rise of social media and digital communication has added a complex layer to the dynamics of sharing struggles.

On one hand, the anonymity and reach of digital platforms can make it easier for individuals to seek help or find communities of support.

On the other hand, the curated portrayals of perfection on social media can exacerbate feelings of isolation and inadequacy, making the act of admitting to struggles seem even more daunting in contrast to the seemingly flawless lives of others.



The Path Forward: Cultivating a Culture of Compassion

Addressing the challenges of sharing struggles and asking for help requires a collective shift towards a culture of compassion and understanding.

This involves challenging societal norms that equate vulnerability with weakness and fostering environments where seeking help is seen as a sign of strength and self-awareness.

Encouraging open conversations about mental health, struggles, and the importance of support networks can help dismantle the stigma associated with vulnerability.

Moreover, on an individual level, it's crucial to practice self-compassion and recognize that seeking help is an integral part of the human experience.

Developing emotional literacy, the ability to articulate one's feelings and needs, can also empower individuals to reach out for support more effectively.


The journey toward making it easier to share our struggles and seek help is multifaceted, requiring societal, communal, and personal transformations.

By understanding the barriers that make this act so challenging, we can begin to dismantle them, paving the way for a more supportive and empathetic society.

Ultimately, the strength lies not in enduring alone but in the courage to reach out, share, and connect with others, embracing vulnerability as a cornerstone of human resilience.

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1 Comment

Gorik Hol
Gorik Hol
Jun 04

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