Hi My Friends —
This week, I’ve been practicing relying on others and asking for help. This is a particular challenge for me as I’ve always been one of those people who thinks, “Oh, it’s just easier if I do it myself.”
I realized recently that the reflex to “just do it myself” is a sneakily disguised defense mechanism — if I tell myself that no one can do it as well as I can and it would be easier if I do it myself, what I’m really doing is avoiding asking for help or reaching out for support.
Because relying on others and asking for help and support is uncomfortable for me.
I first realized how much I avoid relying on others when I was going through chemotherapy in my early 30s. I had a hard time taking people up on their myriad offers of help. I felt like it was an imposition or that I was asking too much, even if it was something they offered. I would tell myself, “They don’t really have the time or energy to help, they’re just trying to be nice.” (I know, the logic fails here, but our belief systems about our own worthiness don’t often pass the logic test.)
So, I started an experiment. When somebody offered something — to bring me a coffee, to clean my house, to run an errand for me — I said yes. I was very sick after all and I certainly needed the help. I didn’t think let my brain think it though, I didn’t let my inner critic tell me they were “just trying to be nice and didn’t really want to do it” and I didn’t qualify my “yes” with a “but only if you really want to” — I simply said YES.
Eventually, as with all things we practice enough, this became a habit. I am now able to let someone pick up the tab or bring me a coffee without my inner critic telling me they don’t really want to and are just trying to be nice. I can actually enjoy the feeling of someone wanting to take care of me, to do something for me. I can let that feeling wash over me and it feels good. I can actually let that love in now and feel what it’s like to be cared for in that way.
I now realize I need to take this to the next level. I need to not only accept help when it’s offered, but also ask for help. Especially to ask for help from people that haven’t offered it to me before or who I don’t know very well.
This terrifies me.
You see, I grew up in a household where if I asked for something I was told I was selfish and ungrateful. That I was self-centered, bitchy, and cruel. Essentially, that I was unworthy of whatever it was that I needed or wanted.
Asking for help was fraught with peril. Putting myself out there and admitting I needed help was often met with anger, and so I came up with the strategy of not asking. I did everything myself because that was emotionally far safer to do.
I now know that this wasn’t normal, and that asking for what you want and need from family and friends (and even strangers!) is part of the deal, part of what we’re supposed to do as humans in relationship with each other. But knowing that something isn’t normal or healthy and acting upon what I know IS normal and healthy are two different things.
So I’m practicing. I’m practicing asking for help, and then feeling that inner child brace for anger and dismissal, and letting her know it’s going to be okay. I tell her the people I have in my life love me, want to help me, see my brilliance and magnificence and want to help me make the most of it. And then I practice asking for what I need and feeling supported, loved and cared for in return.
I’m practicing letting my heart fill and feeling the tears come to my eyes when someone says “yes” and helps me in a way I believe I don’t deserve.
It’s okay to have needs. I am worthy. I deserve help, support and kindness.
If you’re someone who has trouble accepting or asking for help from others, I invite you to join me in practicing this. Practice letting others offer to take care of you first, and then practice ASKING others to take care of you. I know this can be hard to do for those of us that didn’t have a positive experience with this as children, either from our parents or from a society whose systems of oppression that told us our existence was “less than.” But I know it’s worth it. I know we all need and deserve to feel loved, cared for, protected and valued.
You are worth it. I see it and I know it. People want to care for you, it will bring them joy.
Why not give them a chance?
PS — if you know someone who needs to hear this message, can you forward this to them? (See? See how I did that? I asked for help! From total strangers! Go me!! 😃)