What a week it's been.
As I mentioned last week, my daughter had a cardiac ablation procedure done and the entire week was devoted to trying to keep things as normal as possible for the kids.
Part of her recovery included NOT picking anything up over two pounds, so she hasn't been able to hold her children at all since the procedure.
Both my grandson Lucas, whose three and my twin granddaughters are not liking this fact much, and so they've struggled a bit with this restriction.
And because of these restrictions along with the fact that she's been uncomfortable, going in and out of Afib regularly (which is normal while her heart figures out what to do), chest pain, incision pain and many other side effects, we needed serious help.
Luckily we are blessed with a combination of fantastic and supportive family and friends.
People have been here every day since last Monday to help with the kids and pitch in where we've needed help.
You know, not that long ago I was resistant to asking for help.
I believed that asking for help was a sign of weakness and that was a trait I didn't want to be known for.
So I endured a lot of life's curve balls alone. I was left holding the bag taking care of the family more than I care to remember.
But over the years I've learned a few things that have helped me break down the barrier to asking for help.
First and foremost I've come to realize just how much people WANT to help. It's almost built into us - the need to reach out to someone in need and lend them a helping hand.
When we don’t ask for help and instead just attempt to do things on our own, we’re missing out on an opportunity to build meaningful connections with another person.
Not to mention what a compliment it is to the other person to ask for their help. Asking for help (in moderation) demonstrates trust and helps build bonds of intimacy in friendships. Exposing your human limitations to someone shows that you’re willing to be vulnerable to them.
Think about when you’ve given help before, and someone graciously received it. We all want to feel validated in making a difference in someone else’s life, and it’s a gift to feel like we are needed. When we refuse their offer to help, we deny them the gift of giving. Not only do we not receive the benefit of the assistance but we deny them the opportunity to be of service to someone else.
Second, everybody has a heavy burden to bear at some point or another, and one of the core purposes of relationships is to help support one another.
Thirdly, we shouldn’t be afraid to reach out for help because complete independence is impossible. Culturally, we seem to tout independence as this great thing to aspire to, but it’s not realistic or even desirable to try to achieve. As human beings, we are wired to connect with other people. To go against this is to try to defy nature. The goal is healthy interdependence. There’s a negotiation of give and take in our relationships. We can’t be taking all the time, but trying to only give throws us off balance as well.
What else I've learned is there's a right and wrong way to ask for help.
Here are my best tips to help you learn to ask for the help you need:
1. Make a list of what you need help with: particular errands, the laundry, some cooking, feeding the cat, changing a light bulb, some time to talk or a shoulder to cry on.
2. Write down the names of friends and relatives who have offered to help, even if their offer was made quite a while ago.
3. Match people with tasks based on their interests, their strengths, their time flexibility and your comfort level with them, given the nature of the particular task.
4. Pick just one thing off the list and contact the person you've chosen. Be direct. Instead of saying, "If I only knew someone who could take this coat to the cleaners," ask outright: "Can you take this coat to the cleaners for me? I'm not well enough to go out."
The person you've called or emailed is likely to be thrilled to finally be able to help. If for some reason the person can't help you, don't take it as a sign no one can help, just keep moving down the list. If they tell you they can't get to it this week but will be available next week, make sure to reach out to them again or ask them to do something to help the week they're free.
Remember just like you; people do want to be of service. Stop denying them the opportunity to help and be vulnerable enough to ask for the help you need.
If it weren't for the collection of family and friends who have been here every day helping us, this event would have been more stressful for us all. Instead, we knew we had the help we needed to keep the kids well taken care of, occupied and safe. What more could we have asked for?
So the next time you need help, remember it's not a sign of weakness to ask but rather a sign of strength and trust.
Be well, friend!
P.S. Don't forget the Living Well Planner is on sale right now with a brand new design, but only while supplies last. Grab your planner before they're all gone :(.
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