Accepting the Helping Hand.Anja van Kralingen
A little boy was having difficulty lifting a heavy stone. His father came along just then. Noting the boy’s failure, he asked, “Are you using all your strength?”
“Yes, I am,” the little boy said impatiently.
“No, you are not,” the father answered. “I am right here just waiting, and you haven’t asked me to help you.”
Beautiful, isn’t it? And that is the inspiration for my blog today.
This idea that we are not alone. That help is all around us and all we need to do is ask.
The Early Days
I moved to Johannesburg from Cape Town when I was 19. It was incredibly tough going. I knew no-one. My best friend at the time was involved in a relationship and the young man felt threatened by me. Consequently I found myself alone and with no place to stay. I was far too proud to ask my parents to help me and would not appear afraid and lost in front of my so-called friend.
And this trend stayed with me for years, too proud to ask for help and if I had to, hating to do it because that meant owing the benefactor something.
The real problem
A large part of my problem when is that I never asked anyone for help. Instead I felt that no one cared enough to reach out to me in my hour of need.
In my mind, I would think that people could see that I was in distress, but they weren’t interested. In retrospect, I realize how childish this attitude was. I assumed that others could see my distress. But of course people don’t see it and furthermore we are conditioned not to show it either.
My main problem was that I distrusted the world and those around me. My perspective in life was that I could only depend on myself. I had been let down and disappointed so many times.
What changed for me
This started changing slowly over the years.
First I had to realize that all human beings have the same experiences of disappointment and disillusionment. (those personal growth courses are great for this :))
Then, I slowly started realizing that my attitude affects how I experience my world. I became aware of my reactions to situations and the underlying belief systems that drove the reactions. I noticed that I usually assumed a “poor me” attitude; I often felt victimized. I felt that I was always reacting to things that happened to me. I felt totally disempowered.
Then I found a system that worked for me.
Jung’s mapping of the psyche gave me the tools with which to interpret what was going on for me. And this allowed me to change.
Often, in order to change, the only thing that you need to do is to understand what is going on. When you can identify and express how something is making you feel, it somehow allows you to change. This is the process of becoming conscious. This is why counseling is so effective. Without expressing your feelings and how it affects you, change is challenging.
So using these tools I managed to start expressing what was going on for me. I reflected on my behavior and reactions. I took responsibility for my experience and tried not to blame others for how I felt.
This empowered me. I realized that I could affect the world in the way I reacted. This allowed a shift in me towards a positive approach to my world.
This was not an overnight process or a weekend workshop though. It took years and was hard work (and still is).
When is it appropriate to ask for help?
I was listening to 702 with Doctor Schomer. It was about this issue of asking for help. One lady sms’d to say that she is a single mother of a toddler and she is totally exhausted. There is no one to help her. Dr. Schomer suggested that she ask for help from friends, or family. Even 2 hours to relax and lie in the bath to recoup her energies would be sufficient. She obviously does not feel comfortable to ask people to help take care of the toddler for a few hours. I would say that her problem is that she does not feel entitled to ask for help.
Another woman phoned in to say that she did just that, asked her friends to help her, but now she had no more friends. They all stopped talking to her. To this Dr. Shomer suggested reciprocity. If someone does something for you, then you should offer to do something for them.
So to me that indicates that I am not the only one battling with this concept of asking for help. It is not that easy. We all have issues and complexes which affect how we relate to the world and interpret what is going on through a totally subjective lens. I am quite sure that the first lady does have people around her who would be more than willing to help if asked, but she can’t see that. And the second lady did not realize that she was overdoing it and driving her support base away.
I suppose accepting help, asking for help and offering assistance is like anything else. It takes practice to get it right.
Still working on it.
So now I find myself still hesitant to ask for help, because even now, I have an issue with being incapable or “weak”, and often lack a sense of entitlement.
I want to come across as competent and capable.
But the truth is that we are social beings and asking for help, needing others and reaching out to help another; that is what being human is about. This allows for meaningful connection. To be needed and be able to help and to allow yourself to be vulnerable and accept your friends hand in time of need, connects you to them and your own humanity in a profound way.
But at the root of it.
I put a quote up on the Facebook page a while ago.
Einstein said that the most important decision that one has to make is whether the world is friendly or hostile. Someone commented on this and said “Really?”.
But look at it from this perspective. If you believe that the universe is friendly, you will not hesitate to ask for help, or offer to help. Whatever the universe sends you, whether it be information, assistance, knowledge, kindness, etc. will be accepted by you and you will be grateful.
On the other hand, were the world a hostile place, you will block any attempt of kindness or care. You will resent, hate, distrust and suffer for it.
So perhaps Einstein had a point. 🙂
So ask yourself these questions:
- Is the world hostile or friendly?
- Do I think that people are essentially good or essentially bad?
- Am I essentially good or essentially bad?
Until next time
If you enjoyed this article, you may enjoy reading Where do you draw the line between accommodating others and being abused.