Have you ever needed help and did not know who or how to ask? Perhaps you didn’t ask because you wondered, “What will she think if I tell her I need….” or “Who can help me with ….?” If you ask the wrong person for help you might get anything from judgment for needing help (yes, that is really a thing), to misdirection from the person too afraid to tell you they don’t know. Do you know what else you could get? You could get the help you need. But to get that help, you must take a risk.
To take a risk means you expose yourself to danger, harm, or loss. To not ask for help means you maintain the appearance of self-sufficiency while risking greater harm to yourself. Ultimately, you must decide which risk will serve you best.
Right here is where I remind you that no matter how strong, or self sufficient you are, you were not created to live or “do” life in a vacuum. We were created to be interdependent; to need and be needed, to grow by developing intuition about relationships and confront our own prejudices (pre-judgments). If we focus solely on ourselves to the exclusion of others’ requirements, we become needy. If we focus on helping others to the exclusion of our own requirements, we become temporarily numb to our own needs and superficial in our help to others.
Yes, imagine being superficial in your help to others. If the work we do on behalf others is to distract from our own pain, and present a false face of unwavering strength, our motive for helping is not a genuine one. Must you always be the one with the answers, the solution or the shoulder to lean on, yet find it difficult to share your own pain with anyone? Is there no one “strong enough,” smart enough or loving enough who can be trusted with your need for help? If the answer is no, I suggest you examine both yourself and your circle.
To the artificially strong and the chronically helpless, consider the following quote. While childhood sexual abuse might not be the reason you wear a mask of strength, think about what your reasons might be for constructing a mask of strength or helplessness:
“Our need to be "greater than" or "less than" has been a defense against toxic shame. A shameful act was committed upon us. The perpetrator walked away, leaving us with the shame. We absorbed the notion that we are somehow defective. To cover for this we constructed a false self, a masked self. And it is this self that is the overachiever or the dunce, the tramp or the puritan, the powermonger or the pathetic loser.” ― Maureen Brady, Beyond Survival: A Writing Journey for Healing Childhood Sexual Abuse
Recently I got an e-mail from a friend’s mailing list. The subject was: Are You Okay? Many of us are not. I challenge you to find one person (you do not need many) with whom you can be vulnerable enough to admit an area where you need help. Even though doing so may make you feel weak initially, you will begin to ultimately experience growth that comes from taking a risk and learning that you are not alone in the midst of a crowd.
This is a good time to evaluate what is happening inside of you. I am offering one-time coaching sessions to those I haven’t seen as a coach during the month of May. Feel free to e-mail me and we will get you scheduled.
You are loved,
Michele Aikens is CEO and Lead Coach of Sepia Prime Communications & Coaching, and a board member of the Chicago Chapter of the International Coaching Federation. She is a coach because she cares about the insides of others. You can contact her here:
"A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken."