Historically, I have been one of the last people to ask for help. I think I can do it all and that I have no need for help. It seems to take collapsing from exhaustion and my irritability level reaching neck-snapping potential before I realize that I can’t do it all. (Even though my husband has gently suggested that I may need help- from a safe distance across the room- more than once at this point.)
Part of this is that I am very hard headed. Part of it is that I want to portray that illusion that I CAN do it all; that I am actually a Wonder Woman underneath it all. Part of it is societal and part of it is how I was raised. But, the truth is, I can’t do it all. And really, I don’t even want to anymore. I have begun to realize that when I ask for help, I am actually stronger for doing so.
One of the things I hear frequently from patients when they first start therapy is that they feel weak for having to ask for help. They feel like they should be able to handle things on their own and they shouldn’t need help from anyone else.
My response, “Says who?!”
Somewhere along the line, we have supported the belief that unless you can do everything, perfectly, and without help, then you are weak. How this expectation began, I have no idea. But, it is serving no one.
No one can do it all. Everyone has those things that they excel at and those things that they need help with. And that’s ok. Actually, it’s really great that others can fill in the gaps where we may need it. Asking for help doesn’t mean that we are weak. It means that we are wise enough to recognize the opportunity for growth. It means that we are open to learning. It means that we recognize that others may have gifts or talents or knowledge where we do not. Asking for help is, in itself, an act of strength.
But don’t ask your ego if that is true because chances are, your ego will tell you that you are weak and stupid and a failure for needing help. And you can tell your ego, “Thanks for your input, your opinion will be considered with all available information as I move forward with my decision.” (That should shut him up for a little while.)
Listening to the ego’s view of needing help is what makes asking for it so difficult. The ego uses fear tactics and statements like ‘What might people think?’ and ‘They are going to know that I can’t do it myself’ and ‘If I weren’t such a failure, I wouldn’t need help’.
The ego is afraid of change because that means you may not listen to what the ego has to say anymore. You may no longer require his services. And if you don’t ask for help, you will stay stuck where you are and nothing will change. That is the easy way out.
If asking for help were an act of weakness, it would keep us stuck and promote no change and it would be effortless. But asking for help takes effort- sometimes a lot of hard work- and that requires strength. Ergo, asking for help is by definition an act of strength.
Be proud to ask for help when you need it. It means that you are inviting in the possibility for change. It means that you are opening yourself to grow into the next best version of yourself. And it means that you are not responsible for doing EVERYTHING without the help of others.
I will keep working on it if you will. We will try together.