Rethinking asking for help
Asking for help isn't something that comes easily for me. I'm going with nurture over nature on this one. My mom will be 83 this week. She lives on her own and is stubborn about asking for help. (Sorry, mom - you know it's true.) I gathered up information for her with all the support services available to her as she 'ages in place.' Has she followed up? No! She continues to wash her floors (probably on her hands and knees) and do all her own cleaning. She has finally hired out snow removal and lawn care.
I find it easy to be patient with her on this trait because I know how she feels. I don't like to ask for help either. I have always thought that parents should avoid doing things their children that they can do for themselves. It is my golden rule, "Don't do for someone else what they can do for themselves." It drives me crazy when I see women (I rarely see men doing this) doing laundry, making beds and cleaning up after their adult children. I'm not here to serve the capable.
And just before you unsubscribe, delete this email or send a rebuttal to me. I have done laundry for my daughter this year when she needs a hand. She has three kids, six and under, and those are exhausting days. I'm not saying I never help out someone, but I do it based on a desire to help when someone needs it.
I like to be independent, and I want the people around me to be independent. I've had to work towards interdependence in my relationships.
Admitting I need help has usually only happened at a crisis point for me. I went for therapy only when I was spending most of my day crying and paralyzed with anxiety. I have rarely used a house cleaning services. We do the majority of our own decorating projects (and not because we like to paint). There are many things in my life that I could bring in help with, and I refuse. I. Can. Do. It. Myself.
I've noticed a good friend has a very different approach to getting help. She works with a writing coach, editor, personal coach, public speaking coach, therapist, physical trainer, cleaning service and a virtual assistant. She is in a mastermind group. And guess what? Hiring people to support her has made her better. It has made her a better writer, a better speaker, a better businesswoman, and she is in great shape.
Could it be true that getting help makes you stronger?
Hiring help has allowed her to focus on the things she does best. She has more time to do what really matters. I've been paying attention because we've both been writing a book this year and she finished hers!
So I decided to reframe needing help to 'investing in myself.'
In December, I hired a writing coach. Could I do it myself? Probably. I've read many books on book writing, I've talked to lots of authors, and I've leaned heavily on the support of a friend who is a book coach. I finally reached a point where I realized if I really want to move ahead in the next few months, I need the direction, accountability and fresh set of eyes that a writing coach provides.
In the past two months since I hired her, I have made significant progress. It has been so worthwhile. One of the benefits for me is that I am showing up to my work with much more significant commitment these days. If I'm paying someone to help, I will definitely do my part to deliver on my end.
Here's the truth - you can do a lot on your own. And you can probably do many things just as well as a professional. But doing everything on your own can deplete you of the energy you need to do the work only you can do.
This month, I'm focusing on resilience. Many of us are feeling drained these days. We are agitated and waiting for life to return to normal. It is taking a lot more energy to get through our everyday tasks with optimism and hope.
One way you can build resilience in your life is by getting help if you need it. It might be a therapist, a coach, a friend, a partner, a cleaning service or picking up dinner. The healthiest thing you can do right now is asking for help where you need it.
You might be thinking, "That sounds great, but I don't have the money to hire help." I'm going to challenge you to revisit that belief. If you need help with something, reach out to your community. Put it out there on social media. Ask for what you need. And then see what happens. You may be able to offer something in exchange for the help you need.
Just the admission that you need help can be a step towards finding the balance you need in your life. It may take a bit of effort to get the support in place, but I can tell you from experience every time I've said the words, "I need help," I have felt lighter.
Our lives are full of so much uncertainty right now. Letting go of your need to be on top of every aspect of your life might seem frightening, but it can be freeing.