I struggle with sharing my struggles.
There are a lot of reasons why and they will likely sound familiar. There never seems to be a good time. It is hard to find the words to say. You don’t know how others will react. Vulnerability is scary.
Why is it so hard? I think it has something to do with the culture around us, which promotes optimism and faith. Even the world tells us to stay positive and energetic, because people really only want to be around those who are happy. This is not inherently wrong. However, we can take it to extremes.
We do not want to be judged. We don’t want to feel ashamed. If someone saw our true struggles, which are often tightly connected to how we view ourselves, we would be rejected.
Jesus Christ does not want us to hide or diminish our own burdens. Though we quote this familiar Book of Mormon scripture, do we really understand it?
As ye are desirous to come into the fold of God, and to be called his people, and are willing to bear one another’s burdens, that they may be light;
A lot needs to be said about creating safe places for people to share their struggles. However, I’d like to focus on how those facing trials can dispel the feelings of “being a burden” and allow others in as they seek to get help.
Have you ever apologized for vulnerability or emotion?
I’m sorry for crying. I’m sorry to be dumping this all on you right now. I’m sorry I’m taking up so much of your time.
Apologizing at such times turns what could be moments of connection into moments of shame. Our actions are immediately labeled as wrong or bad. Instead of apologizing, try saying “thank you” instead.
Thank for letting me cry on your shoulder. Thank you for listening to me. Thank you for spending some time with me.
It is not always easy to tell the truth about how we are feeling or what we are going through. Instead of dealing with the emotional struggle of trying to express ourselves, we lie. We’re fine. We’re tired. We’re good. There are endless ways we conceal the truth.
Do your best not to lie. Now, we don’t have to reveal our most personal feelings every time someone asks us how we are, but we can learn to share the truth in a digestible way. Here are some examples.
My mental health has been kicking me down lately. I haven’t been sleeping well; I find it hard to turn off my brain at night. I’m finding it hard to stay motivated.
Chances are you have people in your life who would be happy to help you. Try to discover specific things you need so you ask for them in a clear and honest manner. It will help those around you feel less intimidated and confident in serving you. Think of some self-care needs others can help you with, so you always have something you can offer up when others ask to help you.
Finding a Strong Back
Not everyone will be equipped or willing to bear your burden. It is important to seek those with a ministering heart and spirit. How can we find someone with a strong back to help us carry our burdens? Here are three suggestions:
First, someone with a strong back will actively listen to you. They won’t interrupt, get distracted, or dominate the conversation. They won’t make judgemental or curt remarks. While they may offer up thoughts, they won’t just throw solutions at you or tell you that you are overreacting.
Second, someone with a strong back will remember what you’ve talked about follow up with you. When they see you, they will check in and ask specifically about your struggles.
Finally, someone with a strong back will act without you asking. If they notice a need or if you’ve shared some of your struggles, they will take the initiative to serve you. They will not have to be forced to act or wait until you beg them to.
If you have felt like a burden to others, how did you overcome or work on these feelings?