Help NOT wanted

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Recently I was taking part in a workshop. I was in a room filled with strangers all working on our personal development. We were in a beautiful church in Covent Garden; it was a safe space, free from judgement and fear. Everyone was participating fully and sharing openly.

When the workshop leader asked “Who has trouble making or keeping money?” Almost every hand in the room went up. “Who has trouble finding love?” she asked and the same thing. “Who is comfortable asking for help?” she asked and ONE hand went up. Mine.

How did we get to this place where we feel okay telling strangers that we’re unable to manage our finances or our love lives but asking for help is a step to far?

Yesterday as I was walking along Camden High Street I saw a lady struggling to get into a bike shop. It was clearly a heavy door which opened inwards and she was trying to get her bike through at the same time. I held the door for her and the first thing she said to me? Not Thank you but “I’m sorry- I’m SO embarrassed!”

WTF? You’re embarrassed at not having more hands and strength required?!

I used to be a total control freak. I absolutely believed I could so everything. Just like a two year old her stamps her feet and declares “I can do it MYSELF!” Like so many others, I genuinely felt asking for help was a weakness. A sign I couldn’t manage. Asking for help was like holding a banner stating “LOOK HOW USELESS I AM!! FEEL FREE TO JUDGE ME FOR BEING A WASTE OF SPACE”

I ‘knew’ nobody could do anything as perfectly as me (“if you want it done properly do it yourself”).

At this point you may be asking how a perfectionist control freal gets off writing about why we won’t ask for help. I WAS a perfectionist control freak. Insisting I do everything myself, believing everything was either perfect or not worth anything and beating myself up almost on a daily basis because I couldn’t do everything perfectly had quite an impact on my life.

Three years ago, I finally buckled under the self-imposed impossible standards I set myself and chose to just give in to the depression I had been trying to fight for so long. I had managed to convince myself I was a total waste of space, a loser who had nothing to offer anyone and I tried to commit suicide. Fortunately, I screwed that up too J

I ended up homeless which wasn’t a whole lot of fun. It was however the beginning of my new, amazing life.

One of the turning points for me was when somebody told me that asking for help is a sign of strength and confidence. Think about that. When you ask for help, you are not holding that banner proclaiming yourself to be a failure, you’re actually waving a giant flag that says

“Yo- I’m so super freaking confident in myself and so aware that I can do a hundred things incredibly well that I have no issue admitting there is this ONE thing I need help with”

Let’s take that a step further. Everyone likes to help. I’ve spent the past week or so asking all the women I know how often they ask for help. Sadly, most admitted almost never. When I asked how often they refuse to help others, they all looked agahst. Horrified that I could think this of them. WHY? Why are we so willing to offer help but so reluctant to ask for it?

I believe this is partly due to the airbrushed social media view we have of other peoples lives where it’s so easy to feel that everyone else is living a perfect life as displayed on Facebook and Instagram and to forget that’s just a snapshot of a perfect moment in a day.

We all like to help. When somebody asks for help not only does it present us with an opportunity to be kind which makes us feel good but it tells us this person trusts as and considers us to be so good at something they believe we can help.

I genuinely believe the reason we all have different skills and strengths is so we are able to help one another. Helping builds trust, friendships and strengthens communities. There has never been a single person who was able to do EVERYTHING themselves and there never will be. If we weren’t meant to offer and accept help, why would there be a word for it in every language?

It’s time ladies- pull up those big girl panties, swallow that false pride that isn’t getting you anywhere and ask for help. You might achieve something truly miraculous, and you’ll most likely make some incredible new friends.

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