I say project, but I don’t know if that’s the right word, but I’m not sure what else to call it! In a world where we somehow think we can do it all (and simultaneously know that there's no way we can) I'm practicing asking for help! This is the first installment... more to come!
It’s been an objective of mine for the past few months to look for ways to get help in my life. It’s not always very easy, but I’ve been learning that it will make the difference between thriving and surviving. What an unnecessary burden to think we have to do everything on our own! Have you noticed that we do this even when we don’t actually want to do things by ourselves?
How many of us feel overwhelmed by household tasks? How about taking care of our children? How about at work? How about with our health?
There are a lot of things to take care of in our lives, and we can only do so much. This isn’t about taking the lazy way out and letting important things slide by the wayside because we just can’t do it all. This is about finding the things that are important, and making sure they take priority! Just because you can’t do it all, doesn’t mean it can’t happen.
There seem to be a few major reasons we neglect to get help:
1. Sometimes we don’t seem to notice that we need it.
2. Sometimes we reject the help because we feel like we’re supposed to do things alone.
3. Sometimes we won’t let go and let other people do things their way instead of ours.
4. And sometimes we simply don’t ask (and often feel hurt that people can’t read our minds).
I’ve done all of those things before. But I’m working on changing the pattern, and I’m noticing a lot less resentment towards my loved ones, and a lot more happiness in my life.
Turns out it was pretty much all my fault that I was getting angry at my husband for “not helping me.” He actually helped with everything that he noticed, and everything that I asked. Anything beyond that is no fault of his. Period. He doesn’t care about having a clean house, so he didn’t notice that the living room needed any tidying up. He doesn’t know if I fed the kids their snack while he was gone or not. He doesn’t know that I started laundry and now it needs to be folded.
So we reached an agreement that before I got upset with him, I would *ask him to help.*
I’m not sure why that didn’t occur to me before. I suppose I felt like I shouldn’t have to ask? But, when you think about that, that’s a very presumptuous and unfair expectation to place on someone. No one should be responsible for reading your mind. They will never know or understand all the things you are thinking about. Hiding it from them and making them chase it is unfair and, sometimes, downright mean.
So I’m asking him for help. Every day, multiple times a day.
You know what it’s like when you really need something done, but you’re pretty sure someone else will just “mess up?”
I sure do. But I’ve started to catch myself holding onto ridiculous things because I didn’t trust someone else to do it. Some things are very important, and very personal, so keep those things to yourself! But most things? They really don’t have to be done a specific way. Let it go.
My new aim is to ask myself, whenever I hesitate to ask for help, “Does this thing matter? Will anything bad happen because someone did it differently?” The answer is usually no.
I asked for help to put away the laundry, and some things were not put in the right place. Disaster? No. And I didn’t have to do the laundry!
When I feel like I’m supposed to do something myself, I’m starting to ask, “Why am I supposed to? Who determines that?” My answers usually boil down to insecurity, or fear of embarrassment or judgement from other people.
You guys, I truly understand why anyone feels this way. I have felt this way over and over for my entire life. But it’s hurting us! It's likely that no one will judge you for asking for help. And if they do? Here's the truth: Other people’s reactions should never be the deciding factor in what we’re doing. Other people are wrong sometimes. We need to be OK with doing something that causes negative reactions.
And remember - many times, we’re not supposed to do something by ourselves. We are only imagining that it’s ours to do.
Sometimes we honestly don’t seem to notice that we need help! But there are usually some signs that are helpful to watch out for. Overwhelm, frustration, feeling burnt out, doing a sloppy job, making a lot of mistakes, forgetting things, overlooking other important things…. These are all signs that *we need help.*
I tend to notice that I start feeling frustrated, rushed, and anxious when I’m trying to do more than my share. I’ve started to stop myself, and immediately drop a task, or go ask for help. I might ask Nick to take over cleaning up the toys with the girls, or I will stop doing laundry because I’m already trying to cook, and laundry can wait.
Getting help is not easy for a lot of us. But it’s so incredibly important. I believe it can mean the difference between striving and thriving!
If we don’t have to strive, but still are, that’s on us.
Next time, I'm going to outline a few practical specifics that I've found to be very useful in my "ask for help" project!
Have you noticed any areas in your life that you need more help? Which of these things is holding you back from getting it? Or is there a different reason that I missed?