Help? No. I can do it myself.
Updated: Jan 3
It’s a little four letter word. If you need it, it shows you are weak and that you are not independent and that you don’t know what you are doing. If you hear someone use this word you think that they are lazy or incompetent. Can you HELP me? I need your HELP. How could anyone say that?!
You pride yourself on being a strong independent person who tries their best to try and navigate and overcome the obstacles that life throws at you. You believe that if you can do it by yourself it will not only make you stronger today, but will empower you for tomorrow. If you need help, it’s proof that you’re not good enough on your own; in either or both your personal or professional life. But sometimes things do get a bit much and you struggle. But you struggle alone. And it’s hard. Does this ring any bells?
Use your imagination for a moment. You are carrying a semi heavy suitcase and you get to some stairs. Someone offers to help you with your suitcase. You are grateful for the offer. But you decline. You are fine on your own. And then during the whole struggle up the stairs you keep thinking to yourself, "I should have accepted that persons help". And what if you had accepted that persons help? You would have gotten up the stairs quicker, using less energy and you would have been grateful to that person who helped you and thought that maybe there is still kindness in the world. Yes, you were correct to refuse their offer!?
Now imagine you are the person who offered to help with the suitcase. When someone rejects your offer of help, you still feel good because you offered to help. But when someone accepts your help and you do help them, how does that feel? A little spring in your step all day because you were able to make someone’s day a little bit easier.
So, this is my point. We are forever offering to help, to assist people. We want to help. Helping and sharing our energy, experience and expertise makes us feel good. It makes us feel valued and part of a community. So why are we so willing to offer our help but we are so bad at accepting it and more importantly showing that we need it?
I have long believed that I am and that I needed to be as independent as possible. If I showed that I was not enough on my own, I believed that the (well really just my) world would come crumbling down. I prided myself on being self-sufficient and wore my independence as a badge of honor. And then my friend asked me to look after her dog for 9 days and it all changed.
I recognise that this might seem trivial, but it doesn’t matter how we learn the lesson, what matters is that we learn it. (I would like to point out that I never had a pet dog and that I’m a complete looking after a dog novice). I would like to stress that the reason why I found it so difficult was my inexperience and inability rather than Ada’s (the dog) fault. The result of this inexperience meant that the 9 days of being pulled down streets, being barked at and constantly clock watching and running home to walk the dog were tough, but extremely insightful. I learnt my lesson. I needed help.
Again, I recognise the triviality but this experience taught me about my own limitations as my friends had offered me help from before I started dog sitting. But I thought no, I am a strong independent person, I got this. Me and Ada (the dog), we got this. And then on day 5, I recognised something, I wasn’t being strong and independent, I was being unnecessarily stubborn. And it wasn’t helping anyone (especially Ada!). So, I accepted the help that was offered to me. And it felt great!
The help I accepted wasn’t huge, but it was more than enough because it meant I wasn’t doing this alone. It gave me that little extra time and space for me to focus and complete what I needed to do. And it made me recognise something, that a real sign of strength is admitting that you can’t do everything and that you’re not superhuman. (Ada agrees with me).
So what does this mean for you? It means, if you are having a tough time and someone offers you a hand. Say YES! If you are struggling, ASK for help. And if you see someone in need, offer your help. Interactions are what bind us together. They make us feel we are not alone and that there is kindness in this ever individualistic world.
Accepting that you need help is not weakness. It is brave and intelligent. Recognising and understanding that you can only do so much shows not only strength but awareness. Be aware of your limitations and your strengths. Appreciate offers of help as genuine, just as I’m sure when you offer to help someone you genuinely mean it. So the next time that a stranger offers to carry your bag up the stairs, smile and say THANK YOU.
If you feel as if you need a little help in moving yourself forwards from your current situation. You are not alone. Talking to someone about your difficulties and more importantly your hopes for the future can be really useful.
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