so, so, so, hard…
Why is asking for help so hard? Logically, I know and understand that there are people in the world who know more than I do about all kinds of things. World history, technology, other languages… I get it! But when it comes to areas of importance in my life -my marriage, my relationships, my work, my creativity, my body – I start to sweat when thinking about asking for help in THESE AREAS. Why? I mean, WHYYYYYYY?
Asking for help with the MOST important things in my life is also admitting on some level that I don’t know everything about them, and –
Not knowing feels like failure.
A couple months ago I decided I was going to make a journal. I wanted to create a tool for clients, friends, etc. that walked them through some of the processes I’ve found particularly useful walking clients through in therapy sessions. I envisioned it being light, introspective, and at the very least, something I would enjoy using myself!
My expectations for myself at the beginning of this project were,
“This is going to be easy.”
“I talk about this stuff EVERYDAY.”
“I have journaled my whole life.”
Oh and, ” I TALK ABOUT THIS STUFF EVERYDAY.”
This wasn’t my first rodeo when it came to tackling creative projects either. I knew I’d need some friendly, unbiased support. I’d need that support to come from people that weren’t friends or relatives, and I wanted them to know more than me about various aspects of the project.
So, I hired two brilliant, genius, unicorns – a copy writer/copy editor and a graphic designer that also knew A LOT about paper and bindings.
We set up a timeline, goals, and expectations. It felt amazing.
Then, the creative work began. I hashed some things out, compiled learnings, experiences, exercises, quotes, and sent them all away to go through the funnels of the experts that were going to help me mold my ramblings into something cohesive and wonderful.
And that’s exactly what happened.
My scribbled, scrabbled, jumbled notes, were sent back to me beautiful, polished, clear, and true. And it was hard to look at.
It was as if my ego had filtered all of this wonderfulness into 100 versions of, “You’re not enough.”
- Why couldn’t I have done that myself?
- Why couldn’t I have gotten there on my own?
- Why couldn’t I figure that out?
- Because we aren’t meant to do things alone. We’re a social species that’s hardwired for connection, and since the beginning of time we have worked together in the pursuit of all things.
- Maybe I could’ve eventually gotten there on my own, but at what cost? The “cost” would have likely been stress, restlessness, stress eating, stress, stress, did I say stress?, breakouts on my chin, and a lot of time. The amount of time and hours invested into the skills my copy writer has put into a lifetime of writing made her uniquely adept to turn my rambles into something more meaningful. I can think of SO MANY examples of when I convinced myself that I needed to figure something out on my own (building a website, learning Portuguese, starting a podcast…).
- The toxic underpinning of that kind of self-abuse is rooted in this idea that struggle requires more effort, more time, more sacrifice. Of course I have the ability to do anything I set my mind to. We all do! But if I’m really really really really honest with myself, there are things I like doing more than others. Things I’m better at than others. Things that my strengths, experience, genetic makeup have made me uniquely adept to accomplish, and it’s the same for everybody else.
I remember reading a research paper in grad school that said statistically speaking people are more likely to make up answers to questions rather than admitting they didn’t know the answer. I can’t remember the concluding point to the article, but I remember interpreting it as this –
People are terrified to admit they don’t know something, which is exactly what we’re doing when we ask for help.
As a former theater kid and dancer, the value of collaboration and training with people who knew more than I did was engrained in me and always made the work better.
I tried to reflect back on when collaboration felt joyful, and when it made feel like it was evidence of my own short comings. Here’s what I came up with:
- The variable was the intention I had at the beginning of the project.
Ballroom dance is a partnership between two people. Even if I had some particularly complex move, I always had the support of my partner. With theater, it’s an ensemble. On a film set there are entire crews for every aspect of the project.
When I approached the journal, website, or podcast, I had absolutely NO context for how these ideas became a reality. I had no way of wrapping my head around how an idea ends up on a bookshelf in Barnes & Noble, a homepage on “the google”, or on Apple Podcast.
What I’m learning is that there’s a combination of awareness, humility, and education that dilutes insecurity enough so that I can ask for help, and accept it.
It took me studying to become a therapist, to learn that I needed therapy.
It took me banging my head against a wall for weeks, making something that looked like digital macaroni art, to come to terms with how FREAKING HARD it is to build a beautiful/functional website. AND that I have no business doing it alone.
It took talking about wanting to do a podcast for 6 months, before someone asked, “Do you want to talk with someone about this who can ACTUALLY help you with it?” Then, I did.
What a gift it is to know we’re not alone. Because we never are. Never, ever, ever, ever, not ever. It only feels lonely, and that’s when we need to ask for help.
Are you feeling stuck in one area of your life?
Did you roll your eyes just now and think to yourself, “Just one???”
Try writing one down, and ask yourself the following?
- Is there anyone I can talk to about this?
- Would it feel better to press pause and come back to it later?
- How do I want to feel when I approach this project/area of my life?
Let me know what you discover:) The best things in life are shared.
Want more content like this? Check out my podcast with Jen Edds (AKA My Fairy Pod-Mother)
Or check out this conversation with Lindsay Boccardo.