Old patterns are so easy to fall into. Never asking for help is a pattern I share with many others. We tell ourselves that we don’t ever want to bother anyone or to be a burden. We don’t want to seem weak or needy.
Like many who hold this pattern, I’m always more than happy to help others in need. But I’d rather get a root canal than accept help or, God forbid, ask for it.
When I decided to change that pattern, The Universe kindly gave me the perfect situation to practice with–a whopper of a respiratory infection. Coughing, sneezing, dripping, aching, wheezing. Almost three weeks of it. Leaving my bed was practically impossible. We’ve all been there, right?.
This time, I did something different. I ditched my typical, “Oh no, I’m fine” and instead said, “Could you please?” and “I’d love that.”
It began when I was out of town in a workshop. The other participants showered me with cough drops, tissues, and shoulder massages. The friend I was staying with made me an echinacea cocktail each morning and hot ginger tea at night. All I had to do was say, “Thank you so much.”
When I got back home to an empty fridge, I had to get bolder. I was just too sick to drive to the grocery store. So when a friend said, “Can I help you with anything?” I asked for some of her delicious chicken soup. A couple of hours later it was at my door.
The next day, I asked her to bring me some fresh ginger to make tea. She did. Because I asked.
I asked another friend to drive me to the drugstore so I could pick up some over-the-counter remedies. She was happy to do it and she brought me dinner, too.
When I foolishly attempted to teach a class (by telephone) and had a coughing spasm in the middle of it, I asked my students for their understanding. They flooded me with well-wishes and compassion.
When I wanted to whine about how miserable I felt and how long it was taking to get better, I asked for a shoulder to cry on and got several.
An out-of-town friend sent a gorgeous bouquet of flowers, and another friend who knows I’m a sucker for kitchen equipment sent me a shiny, high-end saucepan for simmering my ginger tea. Neither were asked for, but both deeply appreciated.
Yes, admitting I needed help was a little uncomfortable. Yes, asking for and receiving the support of others provoked my fear of being needy. Yes, I felt weak letting others wait on me.
But it mostly felt good. I felt cared for and appreciated. I got nourishment and support that helped me feel more comfortable.
I now see that my asking and receiving was actually an empowering and strong act. It wasn’t one bit weak.
Did any of this me get better faster? Who knows? But I deeply appreciated each and every offering, so I stayed in gratitude much of the time.
Importantly, I gave others a gift: the opportunity to be kind and considerate and to do what humans do best–to connect and care for each other.
I’m feeling better now and I have a brand new perspective about asking and receiving help. It wasn’t as hard as I’d imagined.
Breaking up old patterns are often like that—they seem more entrenched than they really are. It just took a bit of courage and some practice.
Now, excuse me. I’m going to go bake chocolate chip cookies for a friend who just got some tough news.