Why can’t we just ask for help like we ask someone at breakfast to pass us the butter?

Why do we think we have to do everything by ourselves?

Asking for help and helping out, 2 very complicated and treacherous zones in life. Let’s dive in a little deeper.

Asking for help.

Most of us were raised to be tough, to be strong, to be able to handle things all by ourselves, never to show weakness, or any sign of needing support. And then we go out into the world and guess what happens: we can’t do everything all by ourselves, we need help from time to time. But by then, we are so programmed that asking for help is a sign of weakness and for the love of God we would never want to appear weak…. and so that’s where the problems start. We struggle, we feel unable, we feel inadequate, we feel … not enough. The more we feel like this, the less we want to ask for help because there is still a voice inside our head saying: you can do this if only you try hard enough. Stop listening to that programmed voice founded on false beliefs, and finally start saying to yourself: it’s okay if I need help for this particular project, it’s okay if I need some support in this situation. Reach out and you’ll be amazed by how people are willing to help you out. Reaching out for help not only helps you with this aspect in your life, it also gives them the ‘okay’ to ask for help whenever they encounter a situation which they can’t handle all by themselves. It creates a world of not having to be perfect, of not having to do everything by yourself, a world in which it’s okay to reach out for help. It will make you feel a lot better because you now know, there are things you are perfectly capable of doing yourself AND that it is okay when you’re not able to do so and that you can just ask for help without anyone, especially yourself, blaming or shaming you.

Giving help.

Helping someone needs to come from a place of equality. As dr. Karpman* so clearly explains in his Karpman Drama Triangle, we should not act as a rescuer when someone is in need of help. This makes you feel in a superior position towards the person in need, it makes you look upon that person as the victim, the unable. And that is where it goes wrong. Helping someone is meant to make everyone feel better. You help out someone who needed a hand in a particular situation but at the same time that person is still very capable, is still very in charge of his/her own life. We do not need to take over or start making decisions for that person. When we see each other as equal, we are helping. When we think we are more capable, we dominate, we take over**. When people feel that, they will never ask for help (anymore) as they do not want to be victimized. Be very aware of how you help people, listen to what exactly it is, they need help with and give them just that, nothing more unless they ask for it.

I also believe that no matter what somebody is needing help with, no matter why and how much, someone is suffering, we always need to honor the person. I like what Brené Brown*** says about comparative suffering: “Hurt is hurt. Every time we honor our own struggle and the struggles of others by responding with empathy and compassion, the healing that results, affects all of us.”  Do not judge, do not compare and we’ll all be better off. Once we realize, once we really know and feel, that we are all one, that we are all here together, on our journey, that is where helping each other becomes as natural as breathing.

“If you want others to be happy, practice compassion.

If you want to be happy, practice compassion.” Dalai Lama

Compassion, not pity. Compassion is based on feeling equal and helping each other when needed. Pity is feeling superior, either consciously or subconsciously, and making a victim out of the person in need of help. That’s where we take away the dignity of that person, that’s where we start taking over. Let’s be there for one another, let’s really listen to what the other person is saying and be a loving presence.

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*’The Karpman Drama Triangle’ by dr. Stephen Karpman

**’Help is the Sunny Side of Control’ Medium article by Katrien Degraeve

***’Atlas of the Heart’ by Brené Brown.

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