What if I told you that using a four letter word daily could improve your life and perhaps even make you a better person? Yeah, I know most of us were taught that using foul four-letter words in our daily conversation is disrespectful, rude and evidence of an unimaginative vocabulary, but I’m here to tell you my claim is true. Now, it won’t be easy– I’ve avoided this word for most of my life and it’s likely that you have too. But no more; this is something we all need. The word? “Help.”
Recently a friend and I were talking about being people who delight in getting things done—by ourselves. She told me, “I was raised by parents who emphasized the importance of self-reliance and independence. The best way to do something was on your own to prove your competence and ability. But then in college I began to suffer a deterioration in my health. Eventually I was diagnosed with a degenerative muscle illness. There were days I was in so much agony that I could not get out of bed by myself. I struggled with the pain, but even more, I struggled with the guilt of having to ask other people for help.”
I could totally relate. I’m one of those people who prides herself on being independent. I just used the word “pride” in that previous sentence, so I am pretty sure this is to a fault. I’m that girl who insists on carrying all the groceries in as few trips as possible from the car, arms laden with bags and refusing the offers of help from my family with a dismissive “I’ve got it, I’ve got it!” reply. My family rolls their eyes as does my chiropractor when I have to explain why my back and shoulders are tweaked and messed up. Sure there’s an easier way, but isn’t “all by myself” better?
But what happens when we literally can’t do it ourselves? What if we’re like my friend who is racked with pain? We need someone else to come alongside us and get us out of bed. Or maybe we find found ourselves stuck mentally and unable to make the changes we want to in life. Lately, I’ve been struggling with making improvements in my health in order to achieve a weight loss goal. I keep going back and forth back, floundering with what I need to do. The weeks have turned to months and now I’m frustrated. I’ve come to realize that sometimes you have to look in the mirror and admit that what is actually holding you back from getting where you want to be, from attaining the goals you say you want is yourself. It’s just you. You might be in your own way. And that, my friend, is the time when we need to ask for help from someone else: an expert. It has taken me time to understand that this is okay–really it is . It doesn’t mean that I’m weak or a failure or bad; it simply means that I don’t have the right answer to this question on the quiz of life right now and I need to consult with an expert who does. It’s time to use a lifeline!
In the past I thought people would look down on me for using a lifeline. I didn’t understand that in actuality, most people want nothing more than to be able to come alongside you as an expert because it turns out they’re on a journey too, and who doesn’t want a little company? I mean, isn’t everything a little better when you have a sidekick along for the ride? It’s lonely driving across the country by yourself, but having someone sit shotgun and tell you where the next turn is, is pretty awesome. Plus, they can change the playlist and get that rockin’ Tom Petty song going when you’re feeling lulled and ready to quit on the drive. I learned to ask for help because I need someone to encourage me to keep going. I need the expert to tell me I’m going to be okay; that they’ve struggled in a similar way, and look here they are alive, so they’re pretty sure I’m gonna make it too. The great news is there are SO many people who want to give that. People are more than willing to throw out the lifeline, they just need to know to throw it. SO throw up your hand, sister! It’ll come to you!
Though we’re tempted to keep quiet, asking for help means you’re stronger than the fear that is telling you that you’re not good enough. When we ask for help and when we give it to others, we demonstrate that we see value in other people. We confirm a belief that we all hold part of the truth and that each of us plays a part in the greater story. Otherwise, what is the point of all of this? What is the point of all of us being here if we’re not supposed to work together and create some awesomeness in the world? Consulting with others shows that you value them and their perspective; you honor their time and their place in your life so that they can change you, make a difference in what you’re doing and make you better in some way. When I tell you I need your help, I’m telling you that you have something I need so that I can improve. It’s how we can respect, love, and honor one another. People need to be needed. Otherwise, why would they have their own gifts and talents and skills? When we acknowledge we need each other, we acknowledge that we’re each a part of the greater body of humanity and in this together.
So, help and be helped. And in the end, know we’re all better for it.