Like you, I struggle with asking for help.
Loving people in your life approach during hard times and not-so-hard times and ask, “what do you need?” They want to help, and the intentions are good. But at that moment, you don’t have any idea what you need, you are putting one foot in front of the other. You are in survival mode.
Just as we wouldn’t expect someone to run a marathon without training. We shouldn’t expect ourselves to understand our own needs without practice. I tell my yoga students to listen to their bodies on their mats. Your body tells you in subtle ways what it needs, but only when we listen and pull away from the ego or the Negative Nelly that lives in our heads. It’s then when we are in the present moment with the flow of the yoga class, that we have truly heard the body’s needs. Go deeper, take it slower, and hold that stretch a beat longer.
We practice listening to our bodies on our mats so that we can understand how to listen to our needs off of the mat. It’s then, when we identify for ourselves what we need, that we can see the gifts that present themselves around us. Each individual has a gift to share, something that they are naturally good at doing and doesn’t require much effort for them. When we know what we need, we can then seek help from the people who have those gifts or knowledge.
For example, if you need to vent and get things off your chest. Maybe your husband, who goes into fix-it-mode every time you have a struggle, isn’t the person you should confide in to vent. Seek a friend who is amazing at listening and holding space for you.
An example from my own life, we are six weeks away from launching my oldest kid into college. I am knee-deep in buying stuff for him, toiletries that he can’t take from home because his younger sibling will still need to use them (nail clippers, water bottle spray from hair, etc.), and items for his dorm room so that it doesn’t look like a concrete cell.
I’m also processing my own grief, anxiety, and excitement for him. So reaching out to friends who have younger kids isn’t going to serve me well. This stage of life isn’t on their radar yet. Yes, they could listen and hold space for me, but they wouldn’t be able to offer me advice on what not to buy or how to navigate parenting a young adult. Seeking advice from veteran parents who have college-aged kids is who I should make connections with. Parents who understand this type of sadness and trepidation. They have a gift of experience, of traveling that road that they would be willing to share with someone like me.
The first step is to identify what it is that you need. Do you need physical space, time to process, or connection with like-minded people? What do you need to get through this period of time or experience? It’s important to understand your own needs so that you can trust the decisions that you make and seek help from the people who have the gifts available to you.
So….what do you need?