Asking for help is not one of my special gifts.
Considering how many books, blogs and articles are written on the topic, I also suspect I’m in good company here.
Why is asking for help so hard?
After all, as a species, we have evolved to depend on one another.
And not only that, but once our early tribal selves mastered the basics of asking each other for help and accepting each others’ help, we then added in dogs, farm animals and eventually even cats (although here, the cats might beg to differ) into our little trusted “asking for help/accepting help” inner circles.
But yet we struggle – or at least I personally struggle – to ask for help.
I also struggle to accept help, whether it is offered after I ask for it or even when I don’t ask for it.
Here, it is worth noting, I think, that I don’t struggle at all to offer help. I love to offer help. I like to serve. I like to take care of loved ones and help make their lives easier. And sometimes I get frustrated when my help is declined, even though it seems clear it is needed and could be very beneficial.
It is also here where I’ve noticed I’m not alone in struggling both to ask for and to accept help. For example, when I offer my help to a fellow homo sapiens (whether family, friends or partner), I often have to work my way through several rounds of excuses or protestations before I get to the “yes.”
Sometimes after all that, the “yes” still never comes.
But when I offer my help to a non-homo sapiens, say, my parrot, Pearl, or my two shells, Malti and Bruce, I never have to wonder if it will be accepted.
Every morning I wake up and spruce up their habitats, change their water, bring fresh food, provide grooming as needed, offer a variety of entertainment options…whatever need they may have is not only provided for but often anticipated and then provided for.
Never do I hear, “Oh, no, really, you shouldn’t have!” If Pearl hears a loud noise and springs into spontaneous flight which ends up with him trapped behind the couch, he eagerly accepts my help to return to his cage. I never hear “Oh thanks for coming but I’ve got this!”
Unlike Pearl, who is a flocking being to his core, both of my shells, Bruce and Malti, are independent souls at heart. They like to do things for themselves, including eating, bathing, navigating difficult terrain and snoozing.
But Malti in particular has often needed help when she has wanted to climb up or down something or keep from flipping over while exploring. Once she wandered off and got lost for six days, and she really needed my help to find her way back home.
I helped. I didn’t hear a “thank you,” but I didn’t get any resistance either.
I just feel like, with animals, the early lessons of how much safer, easier and better life can be when we lean on each other have survived intact.
Not only do my three animals welcome my help, but sometimes they even ask for it (Pearl in particular, will do this, since he has a non-working left wing and often needs my assistance to get around inside the house).
There is no shyness, no endless protestations of gratitude or “I owe you” to cope with, no keeping score, no promises to never ever again in the future ask for help….they will deal with next time when next time arrives. For now, they need help, I am there, and so they ask.
And they always receive.
This is so inspiring to watch and be a part of.
For them, asking for help and receiving it is just a normal part of each and every day. For me, on the other hand, asking for help can be so traumatizing that I worry for weeks both before and after each incident about whether I asked the right person in the right way for the right reasons and if I was really sure I couldn’t do whatever-it-was on my own….
Just this morning, in fact, I worked myself up into such a fit because I couldn’t get the teensy little screw back into the teensy little holes that would reattach my glasses arm to the glasses frames. I was so upset I couldn’t decide whether to rage or cry or both. I even said out loud to myself how I would rather buy a whole new pair of glasses than have to go to a vision store and ask them for help to put the little screw back into place.
And let’s not even talk about the hour I spent trying to do exactly that.
What on earth was I so upset about? I don’t really know. But I do know I was bound and determined not to ask for help no matter what.
(By the way, I did end up popping out the lenses, throwing the broken frames and arms away and putting the new lenses into an older pair of glasses that were still intact.)
But at least I did it myself. I guess.
Today’s Takeaway: Do you ever find yourself involved in convoluted or ridiculous-feeling scenarios like the glasses incident I just described – all in the attempt to avoid having to ask someone else for help? If yes, why do you think asking for help is difficult for you? And has it always been difficult or can you remember a time when you found it pretty easy?