Self-help Gap


“Self Help Gap” is a term I created to try and deal with an issue I have seen. I wish it was real creative but it’s not.  It is actually just a description of a problem.   How do we handle the gap between a life changing event taking place and the opportunity to speak with someone about it?  That person could be a professional counselor, a mentor, or a Chaplain.  What do we do?

In the old days when an issue arose we were told the following:

Suck it up!

-Real men don’t cry!

-Don’t bother others with your problems!

Even though our parents and their parents functioned ok with this there were a lot of issues that came with that. It is pretty clear that it led to higher alcohol and substance abuse because there was nowhere to funnel that need.  In my opinion completely “sucking it up” and not having someone to talk to is an absolute wrong path to take in most cases.

But then here came the millennials. That pendulum had really swung.  We have encouraged our new generations to get help for everything.  It doesn’t matter what it is.  It could be something terrible like abuse, rape, or even possible suicide (please get help) but on the other hand we have done poorly defining  what severe issues are.  They look for help for a girl or a boy not liking them to having a spat with a parent.  I have seen people break completely down when their car won’t start (I am better now, thank you).  The problem is not the issue but the reasoning behind needing immediate assistance.  Let me capture it another way.

Back in the day when we were running on the old issue resolving tactics we would have someone say something to us that was ugly and harmful and we would brush it off. We just wouldn’t hang out with them anymore and even just stay clear of them.

It today’s world if the same scenario took place we would immediately look for someone to talk to. Hear me when I say this,  I think that is a wise decision in today’s world.  Finding someone to talk to and to confide in is extremely important.  I commend anyone that seeks wise counsel.

Here is the point to this blog. What do we do between the time of the occurrence and the time we can get to that person to talk to?   I want to try and lay out five “self help” steps to take when an issue occurs.  Even though you know you need to talk someone there is a gap in that time to do so.  What do we do?

  1. Accept that something has occurred and right this moment you cannot control it. Put it into perspective. Is it as bad as you think? 1-10 (10 being the end of life as you know it) where does it rank?
  2. Have a plan and time frame on when you can get help. I believe in things to look forward to. It helps you carry on when you know there is a carrot out in front of you. Knowing, let’s say, that tomorrow you will be able to speak to someone is a good carrot to chase.
  3. Fight the temptation to medicate to calm you down. Many times this is where people take too much or drink too much. Help is coming!
  4. Take deep breaths, count chickens, get out of the house and give back to your community, or even possibly take a time out. Listen to relaxing music or take an imaginary dog for a walk if you don’t have a real one. (That may sound funny but I promise you will remember it)
  5. Pray. It doesn’t matter where you are or when you are there God is always available. Sometimes it may just take a quiet place and a little prayer to get you through.

Psalm 118:5 Out of distress I called on the Lord; the Lord answered me and set me free.

So let’s recap. It is not at all that I think you shouldn’t seek guidance from professionals.  I believe that we all need those people in your lives.  As for me I am always willing to help and I feel it is a blessing to do so.  The point here is what do we do in the meantime?  I hope these five steps can bridge that gap if you feel you can’t handle it on your own.

Just know we all have problems and all of us are looking for solutions.

An old man lived alone in Minnesota. He wanted to till up his garden to plant potatoes, but it was very hard work and caused him great stress.  His only son, Claude, would have helped him but he was in prison.  He wrote to his son and asked him for his help in what to do.

Dear Son,

I am under great stress. I want to till up my garden but it is too difficult.  I won’t be able to plant my garden this year.  Your mother always loved this time of the year, God rest her soul.  I am just getting too old to do this work.  If you were here and not in prison I know you would be able to help.



Shortly this man received this telegram:

For Heaven’s sake, Dad, don’t dig up the garden! That’s where I buried the guns!!

At 4am the next morning, a dozen police officers showed up and dug up the entire garden without finding any guns. Confused, the old man wrote another note to his son telling him what happened, and asked him what to do next.

His son replied “Go ahead and plant your potatoes, Dad, it’s the best I could do for you from here!”


One thought on “Self-help Gap”

  1. Great blog this week. We all need someone to talk to sometimes; age doesn’t matter. Thank you for your words when I talked to you a couple of weeks ago about the scripture reading.
    I really laughed at your ending this week.


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