Friday, April 10, 2015

Let Me Help

“Here, let me give you a hand with that.”  “No thanks, I’ve got it.”  I hate to think how many times the second voice in that conversation has been mine.  Let you help me?  No way!  I’m independent, I’m strong, I’m self-reliant.  I’m stupid.

Not only am I too stupid to ask for help, I even turn it down when it is offered.  I tell myself that I do this because I don’t want to put anyone out; I don’t want to impose.  These are lies I tell myself.  It is really fear that makes me turn away every offer of help.  It may be a reluctance to be in anyone’s debt, but mostly it is fear of admitting weakness or admitting failure.  If I allow someone to help me, I’m telling my ego that I am not superman.  My ego doesn’t like that.

There are, of course, times when asking for help has been made necessary by bad choices I have made.  Those times are especially hard on the ego because the weakness and failure that they illustrate was real.  Many times though, asking for, or at least accepting, help is simply the smart thing to do.

For example, some years ago I went sailing on Lake Geneva.  I belonged to a sailing club and we had a number of boats there that day ranging from 14 to 24 feet long.  The wind was strong and the water was a little rough, but the first half of the day I was on one of the larger boats, enjoying the ride and snapping pictures with the fairly expensive camera I had brought along.  After we stopped for lunch, a woman who had been on one of the smaller boats was talking about not sailing back because of the roughness of the water.  I offered to trade places with her so she could ride in the larger, more comfortable boat.  She quickly accepted and then asked if I would like her to take my camera with her because it might get wet in the smaller craft.  For no good reason except that I always turn down help, I said no.  Well of course, halfway across the lake we capsized the little sailboat and my camera didn’t get wet, it got drowned.   All I needed to have done was accept the small favor she had offered, which would have not imposed on her at all, and I might still have that camera.

Sometimes refusing to ask for or accept help can have much more serious consequences than just a destroyed camera.  In my twelve step group it is vital.  We begin recovery by admitting we are powerless.  “Without help it is too much for us,” but by depending and leaning on each other we succeed.  Equally as important as receiving help, is giving it.  It is by helping others that we strengthen ourselves.  It is only by helping others that we are able to save ourselves.  I frequently admonish the young men I counsel to not reject help.  To help them overcome their reluctance I ask them if they like to help people; I ask them how they feel when they have helped someone.  Always they say that, yes, they do like helping, it feels good to help.  I then ask them to not deny the privilege of helping to others. When you ask for help, you are usually doing the one you ask a favor.  You are giving them an opportunity to do good, and it feels good to do good.  Hopefully, you will never need for that kind of helping to be part of your lives, but the lesson that helping and being helped are both good should be.

Be self reliant, that’s a good thing.  But don’t be afraid to ask for help or to accept it.  Remember, "We are all in this together,” and giving and getting help is how we succeed in life.

 

10 comments:

  1. I am definitely not good at asking for help and even worse at excepting it and sadly I raised Jenna to be the very same way. I need to think about all this for both of us and discuss it with her. Thanks! Great advice.

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  2. A lesson I need to work hard on :/

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  3. I'm so with you on this. I'm horrible about asking for help. As my MS worsens, though, I'm finding I *must* ask for help with things I've always done myself. Easter was the biggest yet: I had to ask my daughters to make the entire Easter meal as I lay in bed, unable to do a darn thing. They did it, though—a fantastic job that made me proud (and the girls proud of themselves). Handing over the power often makes everyone feel better. We all need to do it more often.

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    1. Thank you, Lisa. I think this reluctance to accept help, or God forbid ask for it, must be a universal trait. I just hope my grandkids can "Do as I say, not as I do."

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  4. Wow! This is not typical writing for you, Bob......not typical for men!! What a powerful message......it needs to be out there, my friend! Huff Post or a men's blogging community! I've gotten better at asking and accepting, but its not easy. My favorite part is how we feel good helping others.....so turn it around and let them feel good too! Well done! Great writing! May I share!

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    1. Thanks, Joan. Of course you may share; I got the idea for this one from Patti Tucker, http://ohmrstucker.com/what-ill-tell-sweet-e-we-are-all-broken-and-needy/ so I'm sharing hers (and I didn't even ask first).

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  5. Surely this is a site well worth seeing.

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    1. Jerry, thank you for stopping by. I'm glad you thought it was not time wasted.

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  6. Post Script: A few days ago I found my self on the brink of "No thanks, I've got it," once again (I had managed to get my boat to fall off its trailer). Somehow I remembered this post and practiced what I preach, for once. Help was cheerfully offered, reluctantly accepted and gratefully employed.

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