the gift of getting yourself help

we live in a world that has a strange relationship with asking for help. on one hand, we’re taught that we should be able to do everything on our own. that being a successful adult means we don’t need others and that shouldn’t want companionship for the sake of companionship. relationships might be a nice add-on, but they’re not a necessity. on the other hand, we struggle to really take responsibility for our own lives because we expect others to do the heavy lifting for us. we (and i truly mean ‘we,’ as i’m no exception to this rule) blame our parents, our childhoods, our partners as the reason we don’t feel fulfilled, filled up from the inside. we think that if only we had x, y, or z we’d feel better because x, y, or z wouldn’t come with all the extra work seemingly required. life would somehow feel miraculously easy, our minds could finally rest.

both of these belief systems are faulty, though, because they keep us disconnected from our own vulnerability. whether we think we should do it all alone or that it’s every else’s fault we feel the way we do, it doesn’t really matter. either way, we don’t dip into that scared place inside that’s desperate for guidance, for assistance, for a hand to lovingly hold as we walk the walk through the dark and thorny forest. both of these thought patterns keeps us separate from what we’re experiencing in the moment.

the truth is that we all need help and, i believe, a lot of it. Google has become what was once a group of tribal elders; people revered for their wisdom, their tolerance of uncertainty, their ability to guide without directing. but, Google is no elder. it’s a false front for fake answers. there’s no wisdom in instant knowing. there’s no universal rule applicable to every person in every situation. life is too complicated, too complex. so, what do we do when we need another human to sit with us in our mess? what do we do when we finally admit that we can’t do it alone?

in my case, i hired a professional organizer (just one person among several i turn to for help). for as long as i can remember i’ve struggled for various reasons with organization and staying on track with projects. it’s been hard for me to know what to do with my stuff. even more so, approaching it all alone has felt too overwhelming, putting my mind in a stress response which left my brain incapable of truly rational thought. i’ve needed help in this area for a long time. but, there was shame around getting it. ‘i should just know what to do,’ said my mind. ‘why is this so hard for me and not for other people? what’s wrong with me?‘ it continued. i’m glad i didn’t let those voices win out anymore, because hiring the organizer (Holly) has been one of the best things i’ve done for myself. it’s about how she’s helped me in my physical space, yes, and also about the deeper meaning of what saying yes to this want and need means for me. that ‘yes’ has rippled…but that’s a story for another time.

but this is what we do: we deny ourselves what we truly need. we do this for many different reasons: past hurts that still need attention; internalized cultural messages that tell us we’re weak or indulgent for getting help with something we could do on our own; the fear of being judged by others. is there room, though, to dip below the mental chatter and connect with the feeling you get when you say yes to something you really want? when you allow yourself to invite in help from another, to show another person your soft spots, your clutter (whether literal or metaphorical), your messiness? you don’t have to do life alone. the gift of getting yourself help can truly be the best gift of all.

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