How do you get what you want and need? Ask for it.
It's that simple... and that complicated. Fortunately, I'm here to help you navigate the process. So let's do this.
Build the Right Circle
It starts with surrounding yourself with friends that you trust. It may only be one good person, but that's enough. Better to have one or a couple of solid people than to have a whole group of people you can't depend on. Maybe it's an old friend. Maybe it's someone you met online and you've developed a real friendship. Maybe it's a co-worker or neighbor and you just clicked. Where the friends come from isn't important. It just matters that you have someone in your life you can turn to when you are in need.
Know What You Want
Recognizing you are in need is one thing, but it also helps to know exactly what you need from someone. Sometimes, you may want a friend to listen while you talk your way through a problem and possible solutions. Other times, you want someone to distract you from whatever is bothering you. or you may just not want to be alone, and all you need from a friend is their company. Any and all of those things are great, but only you know which of them will help you feel better in any given moment.
For me, there are some days when I just need to be around a friend. I would be okay on my own, I know, but I feel like I would be better off spending some time with a trusted buddy. And knowing what I want makes it easier to do something about it.
This part is so important. People aren't mind-readers, and they need to know what you are thinking.
For example, the other evening, I met a friend out for dinner. On the drive over, I brought her up to speed on an issue I've been dealing with for the last couple of months. We hadn't really had a chance to talk in a few weeks, so there was a lot to cover. After, I said, "oh, and you won't believe what happened when I spoke to so-and-so on the phone."
She said, "okay, but this can't be all about you today. I have some big stuff going on and I need to talk with you about it."
I took just a couple minutes to fill her in on what happened in the phone call, and then she had my full attention. And she was right. Her update was a big deal and I understood immediately why she wanted to talk it over with someone. But the big story here is that she didn't sit quietly and resent me for sharing my stories. She didn't brood and feel ignored. She needed help and she asked for it, direct and to the point. And because she spoke up, there was no chance I was going to somehow misunderstand what she needed from me.
Sometimes, despite your direct request and a friend's best intentions, you won't get what you need from them. It happens. Maybe they just aren't in a place to give you the attention you need. Maybe they don't have the answers. Or maybe they just aren't listening and are clueless that you are in need.
It happens. But that's no reason to stop asking. Check back in with the person and make sure they know what you need. Or ask another friend. Or ask multiple people. "Hey, I'm just feeling down and would like to spend some time catching up with you." Soon enough, you'll get through to someone and they'll get you the support you need.
This part really matters. Accept the help coming your way and make sure your friends feel appreciated. If your buddy comes through for you, drop them a note afterwards and say, "hey, thanks for coming over, I really needed that time with you." Make sure the good people in your life know how you feel about them and how much it means to you to know you can depend on them. Trust me, doing this will help guarantee they are willing to be there the next time you need someone.
Pay It Forward
Pay attention to other people asking for what they want and, whenever possible, help them get it. This is really the best part. As much as you need other people, realize that they need you, two. Be there to listen, to help, and to make a difference.
Look, life can be complicated enough all on its own. If we all would ask for help, appreciate it when it comes, and offer the same to others, we'd be much better off.
This public service announcement is brought to you by me, a man who has received far more help in this life than he could ever possibly return. And I'm thankful for that.