I am convinced there should be a mandatory course for totally responsible, self-sufficient women (and men). The course title would be: “How Asking for Help Can Significantly Improve Your Life.” So few of the women I know ask for help and, even worse, many actually refuse help when it is offered — “No, thanks. I can handle it.” (or some variation on that theme). I recognize the condition because I suffered from it for many years, and even posted a piece here called “Saying Goodbye to the Little Red Hen”
The truth is, whether or not we ask for help, we receive it daily from expected and unexpected sources. Assistance often arrives in the form of seemingly random occurrences… a stranger calls out to us, having picked up something valuable that we’ve inadvertently dropped… a long-lost friend calls when we’re feeling blue… a neighbor shares the bounty of her summer garden.
And then there is another kind of help, the assistance we cannot attribute to a person, help that arrives the very moment we need it. I wonder how many times each day we receive this type of help without stopping to notice that something very special is happening. Several weeks ago, I was on a business trip and arrived at my destination late at night. It was at the end of an overly scheduled week and just before falling asleep I realized there was something important I was meant to do before the day ended, but I just could not remember what it was. My last thought before sleep was a personal admonition, something like, “I should have put it at the top of my ‘to do’ list.”
Even before I opened my eyes the next morning, I remembered the forgotten task. I was meant to have made a phone call, closing the loop on an open issue that needed to be wrapped up the previous day. It was too early to make the call at that moment, so I showered, dressed and waited until what seemed an acceptable time for an early morning call. All of the deep breaths in the world could not release the stress I was feeling. And then something unexplainable happened. When I picked up my phone and put the ear buds into my ears, one of my favorite pieces by my favorite composer was playing. I stared at the phone in disbelief and then laughed out loud, knowing that this was no coincidence. I had never downloaded this piece of music onto my relatively new phone, yet there it was. All of the stress melted away and I knew that everything was fine. A moment later, I made the call and it went extremely well. I hadn’t asked for help, but it came in an unexplainable way and I was deeply grateful. The experience reminded me of the “coincidences” that happen every day, the ways through which the universe conspires to help and support us.
As we commit ourselves to asking for and gratefully receiving help, here are four suggestions that can make a difference:
– First, take a few moments to reflect on the past few days and consider the seemingly random occurrences that made your days easier in any way.
– Second, for the next few days, notice all of the help you are receiving in any form, from anywhere, and express your gratitude.
– Third, ASK for help when you need it. For some of us, this takes practice. If you find it difficult to ask for help, take a small step by accepting help when it is offered – “Yes, thanks, I’d appreciate it” rather than “No, thanks, I can handle it myself.” I also suggest that you consider that in an odd twist of human reality, when you accept an offer of help, you are actually giving a gift to the person who offered.
– Finally, remember that help is always there when we need it.