[Published on Huffington Post] Over the years as we grow to maturity and seek to find our true selves, we are also growing a very strong sense of independence. From learning how to walk, talk and dress ourselves to the more complicated adult discoveries like career choices or life partner selections we strive to “do it ourselves”. No help needed here.
In so many ways, we also learn that asking for help can be seen as a sign of weakness. In so many ways, it does help us to do a lot of personal development. We struggle almost continuously. And all the while, we are at the ready to lend a helping hand to any who ask.
Isn’t this rather crazy? We consider it a privilege when someone reaches out to us and asks us to help them with something. We like how it makes us feel; first to be chosen and then the sense of pride as we are able to complete something that makes someone’s life easier. Our helping others enriches our lives, validates it and makes adds to our happiness.
Am I not right? Think back to the last time you helped someone. What did you help with? Help with a move? Fixing something? Sharing your expertise to get something to work properly? How did you feel when you were done? You might have been tired to the bone but my guess is you also felt elated.
So tell me then, why is it we don’t let others help us? Why do we deny them the same experience by not reaching out and asking them to help us?
For some, that is a very hard thing to do. As we grew up, we learned that we needed to be independent, to be able to manage our own needs or perhaps that people couldn’t be trusted and wouldn’t be there for you. All of that might be true, but there comes a time when we need to admit that we can’t it alone. How much stress do we pile onto ourselves because our egos demand we have to be strong in all things? And yet, the real strength comes in admitting we need help and it’s okay.
Can you imagine anyone in your sphere refusing to come to your aid if you asked for help? Me neither. What do you suppose would be there response to your request? Would it look like this?
I do think that is so. Yet it has taken a lot for me to reach out and feel okay with it. Even if my husband couldn’t (or wouldn’t) do something in what I considered to be a satisfactory time, I would jump in to do it myself.
Well, now that my hubby is ill and can no longer do his customary jobs around the house, I have had to take them on. But only because I deemed it so. Finally when I was burning myself out and getting beyond my skill level, I had to ask others to stand in the gap. And you know what? They were thrilled.
You see, they knew the situation. They wanted to help but didn’t know how and didn’t want to intrude. When I finally asked, they were happy that now they could actually do something to take some of the pressure off me. I have to admit that I didn’t realize the toll it was taking on me. I was acting like Superwoman; like the old song, I am Woman Hear Me Roar….
The truth of the matter was that I was putting myself at risk and possibly jeopardizing the care my husband needed. My perception of being strong because I didn’t need anyone was wrong. I wasn’t being strong. I was being foolish and weak. It wasn’t until I swallowed my misdirected pride and reached out that I realized that that was where the real strength was.
How are you doing? Are you living a myth thinking that the courage it takes you to manage on your own is your strength? Are you actually burning yourself out by adding unnecessary stress? Consider letting others help; consider letting them experience the same joy and privilege you feel when you get to help others.
When you help others you give the gift of yourself. Letting others do the same for you allows them to give their gift to you. We are always better at giving gifts than receive them. But it is something we can all learn to change. It all starts with the decision to make that change. When will you make your decision?
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