Dillan DiGiovanni looks at some reasons why we have trouble with that four-letter word.
We all know the joke about men not asking for help with directions.
Have you heard the one about the woman who tries to do everything “her way” and then says her husband doesn’t help her? The punchline is: “he wasn’t doing it right.”
Except, it’s not a joke. It’s what people do.
Men try to figure things out alone rather than ask for and receive help and women…well, they do the same thing. Actually, many human beings do this.
Why? What happens when we ask for help?
WE MIGHT GET IT
Well, we might just get help, only it might not come in the way we want, expect or anticipate. If we have our sights set on how others can or can’t or should help, we miss out on the opportunity to actually receive the help we think we need. Or we do get help and then what happens to our Savior Complex? yikes.
WE MIGHT NOT GET IT
Sometimes we ask and people aren’t actually willing to help and that feels like crap. We are stuck in the same situation we were before we asked. Except, there are a few other people we could ask…
WE LOOK STUPID
Or we ask and we think we look stupid for asking. That person thought we had it all together and now they know we don’t. That image we stood behind felt so safe and now people know we are a fraud. Freakin’ great.
These fears or experiences can lead us to think we don’t even need or want help.
Somewhere deep down, we may not think we deserve it. Or maybe it is too hard to accept it and it is easier (albeit more difficult and painful) to do it ourselves. If this worked perfectly, it would be awesome. Unfortunately, I know more than a few people who take this stance and then complain. Frequently. That’s tricky, right? Nothing bad or wrong there, just…something to see.
*sorry. I’m back. was just looking at that for myself*
Here’s what I have learned from asking for help or from working with people who ask me for help: it puts us in a totally vulnerable state of receiving. We all like to look like we are juggling 10 balls perfectly, right? YEAH! What a feeling of power and control. Holy crap, the seduction of that facade is so tempting.
Until we actually come up against our limits as humans. See, we have a limited field of vision based on the experiences we have had. While we might be smarter than the average bear (or person), we still can’t possibly know it all. The opinions and perspectives of other people are tremendously helpful, particularly if they have a viewpoint or life experience that relates to ours.
Take my clients, for example. Their life experiences range from many different vocations, races, ethnicities, religions, genders and sexual orientations. What do they share in common? Choosing change. Every single one of them comes up against the fear of change and their own personal limitations. They want to shift something in their lives and that requires a perspective that will be different from the one they have known.
This is something I know really well, having changed my job, religion, my state and neighborhood of residence, gender presentation, sexual orientation, gender identity AND heck, my own damn name and my body! Anything that can be changed, I’ve changed. And I haven’t done this by myself. I’ve done it by constantly asking for help when I come up against my own limitations or my own ability to see clearly what I could change.
My client who felt stuck in his job? He just needed help changing his definition of what job he “should” have. He was held back by this one idea that required credentials he didn’t have. Once we redefined it as something to earn money while he found something ideal, he made the shift.
Someone asked me for help with something intimate the other day. She read me as a guy and it was probably hard for her to ask me, since it involved her body. She overcame the perception of my maleness as a barrier and instead saw me as a person who could help her. And help her, I did. She felt weird, she overcame the fear and she got exactly what she needed.
We all need help with something in our lives. Something we want to change or something that hurts.
We like to think we can do everything ourselves, especially if we are particularly good at DIY-ing other things in life or if we’ve tried to ask for help before and have been hurt in some way. Shit happens when we ask for help, it’s totally true. I tried to ask for help from someone who is this big social media expert and he completely flaked on me. Whatever. Maybe the Universe was helping me dodge a bullet. Maybe this guy had nothing to tell me that I don’t already know and that was the lesson I needed.
Whatever the result, pleasant or not, we learn something by asking for help. We learn how to ask, who to ask and when to ask.
Finding the ability to ask for help and seek it from people or places who are ready, willing and able to provide it are essential skills to living healthy, happy lives. It’s an art, a practice, not an exact science.
What would happen if you asked for help with something in your life today?
Originally published at dillandigi.com.