A couple weeks ago I was walking out of the local super market when I passed a woman wearing a bright pink t-shirt that said, “Kin Can Kick It!”
Having seen this same phrase in lights (literally) on top of a 30 foot pine tree near my neighborhood during the Christmas season (see image below), I had to stop her to ask about it.
She thanked me for asking and said, “It’s for my niece McKindree. She has two rare issues, diamond black fan anemia and CVID (chronic variable immune deficiency) and is undergoing bone marrow transplants. A friend of ours is a welder and made it for her to help remind her she can kick it. We call her Kin for short.”
She then went on to tell me about the community fundraisers they’ve conducted, connecting with others who have the diseases or who have undergone bone marrow transplants, and McKindree’s mom’s online journal at www.caringbridge.org.
While fighting these diseases and undergoing bone marrow transplants must be terrifying, it is inspiring to see all the people who have and are rallying around McKindree to help her face her fears and “kick it”.
McKindree needs support and encouragement to face her fears and trials. To help find that support, she and her family have reach out to family, friends and even strangers to build the network of support they all need to survive this difficult challenge. They knew they needed support and love in order to survive…and so do we. But sometimes we find it hard to seek out or ask for the love and support we need.
Because our fears or challenges are not extreme, rare, or extraordinary, we talk ourselves out of asking for help. We don’t want to bother anyone with our problems. We tell ourselves, “Other people’s problems are so much bigger than mine!’ And instead of getting the help and support we need—even if it’s just a listening ear—we try to fight our fears alone. We’re happy to reach out and support others. But when it comes to getting our own needs met, too often we opt for isolation instead of reaching out.
And that’s not good.
It’s not healthy either.
In the focus group I conducted a couple weeks ago, one BIG theme that stood out when we talked about overcoming fear was the idea of reaching out to others so that we are not alone.
Here are five ways to fight your fears and move forward by connecting with others.
#1 Know You’re Not Alone
One of the lies we tell ourselves when life gets hard is that “no one understands me”. The truth is that you are never alone. The struggles you experience are only “what is common to man”. You need to remember that there are others out there who understand what you are going through AND are willing to share their experience.
People crave connection. When you reach out to others in an effort to find support, keep in mind that you are not being a burden; you are helping them to find the support and care they need so they will not feel alone either!
What type of people share your struggles? Where might you find them on- or offline?
#2 Don’t Put Yourself in a Vacuum
One of the reasons we come to the conclusion that we’re alone is that we operate in a vacuum. You know what I’m talking about. You sit at home, in front of the computer or television, thinking about your struggles. Because you’re sad or afraid (or both), you start to withdraw from others. You begin to feel like you’re “alone” emotionally because you’ve actually made yourself alone physically.
To find the support you need from others, you have to be with other people. If you’re operating in a vacuum…if you’ve isolated yourself from people…pull out your calendar and schedule some time to get back into the real world with real people. The only way to find supportive people is to actually be with people. Funny how that works, right?
What can you do to get out and connect with people this week?
#3 Join a Group
Another way to solve the problems of thinking you’re alone and putting yourself in a vacuum is to join a group. There are groups or MeetUps offering all kinds of support. They meet in person and they share your struggles or interests. What could be better?
In searching our local news station’s activity site, I easily found the following support groups:
- Menopause Support Group
- Hearing Loss Association of America
- National Active and Retired Federal Employee Association
- Osteoporosis Support Group
If you don’t want to leave your house but prefer to find support online, search for a support forum. By searching for “leukemia support groups online,” I found:
- The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society
- Daily Strength Support Group
- Cancer Support Community Arizona – “So that no one faces cancer alone”
- May Support Groups in Arizona
- And tons more
Whether you’re struggling to overcoming difficulties or want to connect with like minded individuals, there are groups for everyone both online and off line.
Take a look online. What kind of group might you join?
#4 Create Your Own Group
McKindree’s family created their own online group using www.CaringBridge.org. Caring Bridge started because a friend was asked for support. According to CaringBridge Founder and CEO, Sona Mehring:
“In 1997, good friends of mine had a premature baby, and they asked me to let everyone know what was happening. Instead of making dozens of emotional and time-consuming phone calls, I decided to create a website. The same night their baby Brighid was born, so was the idea that became CaringBridge.”
McKindree’s mom posts updates and their supportive friends and family post encouraging messages in response. But creating your own group doesn’t have to be limited to the online space.
I created my own live “group” when I hosted the focus group. While my intention was to gather information for myself, the women who attended enjoyed discussing their fears and trials and found it therapeutic. In fact, the original title of this tip for overcoming fear (contributed by the focus group) was “Go to Tami’s House”. There is a lot to be gained by getting a group together.
How might you get the support you need—or extend support to others—by creating your own live or online group?
#5 Find Safe Friends
Friends come in all shapes and sizes…and in varying degrees of selfishness and selflessness. When it comes to finding support, you need to choose “safe” friends.
Safe friends are the ones who DO NOT:
- Judge you—“I can’t believe you really are having a hard time with this!”
- Feel the need to tell their life story as a way of showing empathy for your problems—“The same thing happened to me! When I was just a kid…”
- Share your struggles with others—either online, offline or both
- Tell you how to solve your problems—“You know what you need to do/try? You should…”
- Minimize the significance of your struggles—“Don’t worry! You’ll get over it!”
Safe friends are the one who DO:
- Listen without interrupting you
- Let you be you and share your struggles without judging you for how you feel
- Ask more questions in order to understand you better
- Ask you how you feel and what solutions you have considered
- Ask you how you would like them to support you—“What can I do to help you?”
- Hold you in their arms and tell you, “This is hard, but you will get through it.”—without giving you detailed instructions on what to do in order to get through it
- Are there for you, for whatever you need, when you need it
Are there any friends you might be better off avoiding? Who are your safest friends?
What Kind of Support Do You Need?
You may not have diamond black fan anemia, CVID, or any other life threatening disease. But whether you are a business owner, entrepreneur, mom or millionaire, there are things that get to you and there are times when you do need support. It doesn’t have to be a major challenge to be solved. I attend groups that help me build my business, increase my faith, and feel like I’m loved. What kind of support do you need?
It’s time to go out and get it!
What challenges are you facing right now? What steps will you take this week to get your needs met?
As I mentioned, CaringBridge.org lets you set up an individual page, allow others to read posts, make comments and receive journal updates. You can also make “tributes” that are made in the name of a specific person but go to CaringBridge in order to keep the service free for families.
To learn more about McKindree’s journey and CaringBridge, visit her CaringBridge page at www.caringbridge.org/visit/
Please Match My $25 Donation to Kinny’s Kause
McKindree’s family has set up their own non-profit, called Kinny’s Kause to help encourage blood and bone marrow donations. You can make a donation directly to McKindree and her family at www.KinnysKause.org/suppport-
Be sure to make a note in the box “Add special instructions to the seller” and indicate that the donation is specifically for McKindree and not for the organization’s general fund. (See the graphic below.)