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Too embarrassed to seek help

Sep 12, 2015

This is one of the most common reasons for not seeking help. It is very honest and in many ways quite understandable. People who are too embarrassed to seek help often give other reasons if asked or simply keep completely quiet about any emotional issues.

So where does this embarrassment come from and what does it relate to?

What you did or what happened to you

A lot of emotional distress stems from traumatic events that happened at some point in the past. In some instances, this makes the person feel embarrassed about their own behaviour or about what happened to them. Physical or sexual abuse, and abortion for example can create deep feelings of guilt and embarrassment and the thought of bringing this into the open, even confidentially to a therapist, can simply be too embarrassing. Having been the victim of a scam and perhaps lost a significant amount of money in the process can also make a person feel stupid and therefore too embarrassed to deal with the resulting emotional distress.

If you feel you can’t talk about it, chances are that you will soldier on and hide your problem. This will likely make it worse and you have to put even more effort into hiding your distress. In some cases, people change their normal behaviour, become reclusive or resort to alcohol and/or drugs to dull the pain. At some point, it will become obvious to friends, family and work colleagues that something is wrong and that puts the individual under even more pressure as there is now more to hide or explain away.

Keeping up appearances

In general, people like to be self-sufficient and be able to deal with whatever life throws at them. Personal pride plays a big role. We like to portray ourselves as someone who is strong and in control. Whilst there is nothing fundamentally wrong with that, it does create expectations that can suddenly be difficult to live up to. Those expectations are both our own expectations and those of the people who know us. When something in our lives goes wrong (and it does for all of us in some way at some point) and we realise that we struggle to cope, we start doubting ourselves and start worrying about what other people might think of us – causing more stress.

In all probability most people will be very understanding of someone within their circle of friends and family who is going through an emotionally difficult patch. As I said, it happens to all of us. I opened up to a friend once well after the event and he told me that he was slightly offended that I had not considered him enough of a friend to let him know what was going on.

No one is perfect, so if we admit to ourselves and to others that sometimes we need a bit of support other people will be quite understanding and supportive just like they would if we told them that we were consulting a lawyer on a legal matter or a doctor on a physical ailment.

Cultural influences

In some cultures, mentally and physically handicapped people are hidden away because they are seen as an embarrassment to the family or the village. In America, seeing a therapist is almost the norm and certainly not something that will ostracise you from society. In western European cultures, for some reason, there is a stigma attached to emotional or mental problems. Perhaps they are difficult to understand; perhaps we don’t know how to behave around people who are a bit “unstable” which in turn make us want to always appear in control and on top of things. We have been conditioned throughout our lives that everybody loves a winner and nobody loves a loser. This goes on at school, in the work place, amongst siblings – pretty much in every aspect of our lives. Take unemployment as an example. We feel useless when we do not have a job, we can’t support ourselves and our family and we feel that other people think less of us because we are between jobs. Resent research has shown that our personality changes negatively during long-term unemployment. Luckily, these changes reverse once we get a job again.

You have to be strong to be weak and when people decide that their emotional wellbeing is more important than what other people might think of them, they seek help and are all the stronger for it.

If you feel embarrassed about seeking help, don’t tell anybody – just do it. A professional therapist will not judge you and will observe complete confidentiality. If you want to seek help, but are too embarrassed or too ashamed to talk about the problem, Thought Field Therapy, the treatment method that I use, will most likely suit you. “I keep having nightmares about something that happened to me in the past” – for example - is all I need to know about the actual nature of the problem to be able to help. For Thought Field Therapy to work the client only needs to focus their thoughts on the problem. There is no need for several sessions of long and painful conversations.

If you want to talk to me to find out if Thought Field Therapy could help you, please ring me on +44 (0)7754 652 590 or send an email to peter@better-lives.co.uk and arrange a time to talk to me.

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"I could always rely on Peter to ask a thought provoking question that stimulated my own reasoning and thought process. Coaching has been a very positive experience and I feel I am better equipped to manage my work environment and myself." LC