Why Don’t We Just Ask for Help?
Helping each other and offering a helping hand is one of our innate tendencies and one of the principal characteristics of the human spirit. Why is it then, such a tremendous difficulty for us to ask for help or be happy to receive it?
We've been trained to be self-sufficient. To be able to do everything on our own. As we grow up, we are praised for what we manage to do "all by ourselves." Yet, at the same time, we are told to: "share with your sister" and to be "team players." We grow to develop a deep conflict - a need to connect and a fear of asking for support.
One of the most debilitating difficulties we face is the challenge of asking for help. This challenge stems from that same conflict. How can we be self-sufficient and full while acknowledging lack and recognizing an empty, hollow void within us that yearns for connection and guidance?
We've been taught that asking for help makes us seem weak. It implies recognition of our emptiness and stirs up our sense of vulnerability. In order to ensure those remain in check, we have developed highly sophisticated protection layers. Our shame and our sense of guilt. We have been taught to feel ashamed to ask for help. Ashamed to acknowledge we need one another. Yet, as we "fail" to remain self-sufficient, remain "strong," appear to "have it all together," and fall into the horrid act of asking for help, we immediately cushion the fall with a heavy dose of guilt. Just so we don't allow ourselves to feel comforted by the sensation of receiving the love and support of another.
If you study the behavior of homeless people, you'll discover that one of the experiences they miss the most is the ability to give freely to others. They are pained to experience so much lack and fear that leads them to the necessity of hoarding and focusing on their own needs. They long to feel needed by someone and, more than anything, the space and capacity to offer something of themselves.
When you feel ashamed of receiving or guilty for doing so, you hold back from allowing someone what might be the greatest gift you can possibly give them. The space to give to you. You disallow the necessary space for another to feel their fullness. The place within them that overflows with love and wishes nothing more than to connect with you as deeply as they possibly can.
If you are willing to look deep and face your shame and your sense of guilt, you'll realize those hold true only if you have a projected sense of a self-image that exists in some distant future. If I were this or that, I wouldn't be doing this or the other. If I ask for help, it has to mean that I am a certain type of person that I wish I weren't. If you allow yourself to see the futility of maintaining that imaginary image, the hold those protection layers have over you will cease to exist, nor would those matter. You'll have the necessary space to focus on the gift you give another in being vulnerable, in being receptive to all they have to offer.
However, we've been protecting ourselves, shielded by shame and guilt for so long that simply letting those go seems almost impossible. And since nothing within the human psyche is unnecessary, if we allow our shame and guilt their rightful place, we will find that those are nothing more than signals, stop signs, and reminders to observe and reevaluate our motives and capacity to offer and receive. They were not meant to run the show but only act as stage lights. Illuminating the path for a deeper expression of gratitude and appreciation. If we feel ashamed to receive from another, that same emotion can be translated into a deeper expression of heartfelt gratitude. If we feel guilty in receiving, that same gesture can transform into a profound sense of appreciation for all that we have.
Emotions were not meant to be transcended nor ignored; emotions are an invitation for transformation. A way to elevate the mundane into the divine. A choice of perspective that reflects free will. You are invited to transform your sadness into a poetic muse of longing and love. The invitation is there for you to transmute a sense of fear to an existential sense of wonder and appreciation for every moment of breathing life.
To feel ashamed of receiving is a profound act of selfishness. It is an external idea imposed upon you by a tormented society, guilt-ridden and fearful of its own shadow. To feel guilty in asking for help means you have yet awakened to realize how deeply we are connected to one another. How the extended arm of a brother is the receiving end of the same act of kindness. In receiving, you give; in giving, you receive. An endless cycle of life and death, birth and rebirth. A harmonious dance within life's infinite and abundant glory.
Don't look to abandon your shame nor dismiss your guilt. Understand them and choose to transform these feelings into an invitation to recognize the beauty of another. Don't receive half-hearted; receive fully. Acknowledge the depth of your gratitude. Praise your brothers and sisters in their giving spirit. Allow them to be seen in their acts of kindness. Receive them so fully that your undertaking of receiving will become a tremendous gesture of your giving heart.
And by the way, Thank you, Megan, for asking.