How do you feel when you need help from someone? Do you ask for it easily? Do you feel embarrassed or ashamed about asking? Do you ask at all?
In this newsletter I only write about issues with which I have personal experience. Asking for help has been one of my larger challenges.
Last summer I took a watercolor workshop with a well-known artist and teacher whose style was quite different from anything I had experienced. I experienced much frustration during the three days of the class, and by the last day I was ready to break my paint brushes and throw away my palette.
At the end one person said she had had no experience with abstract work and found this very difficult. In response, the teacher said she wished that the person would have told her because she would have helped her.
In a misdirected attempt at restoring my self-esteem, I said to myself, "But she should have made it clear that she welcomed questions." Shifting responsibility, though, was no solution for me. I had denied myself the opportunity to learn because I hadn't asked for help.
I was brought up to be self-reliant, and there are many positive aspects to this way of being. When we choose to look within ourselves for the answers to problems we go through a level of personal growth which isn't possible when someone else gives us an answer or solution.
There is a larger picture, though. If we look at nature we see a pattern of interdependency. Plants need insects in order to pollinate them and to help to continue the reproduction cycle. Elephants and wolves, among many animal species, operate as communities. Fish swim in schools, and Canada geese help each other with every wing flap and honk.
Given the complex world we humans live in, we need each other's help at least as much as other beings. I am not going to always find the answer within. Within doesn't tell my why my modem isn't working or how to mail a package to Indonesia.
And during those times when all that's within is tired old thoughts that go around and around in my head and solve nothing I need to hear someone else's thoughts about my issue. And sometimes I just need a friend.
If at any of these times I can't shed the cloak of self-reliance it becomes no longer a useful way of being, but a straight-jacket.
Often those trained in self-reliance got at the same time the message that it was wrong to ask for help, that it revealed weakness. If we want to think of ourselves (and have others think of us) as strong and independent people, if we feel that this is our best protection against being vulnerable, we will avoid asking others for help.
Specifically, the identity of self-reliance helps us avoid:
I have gotten every one of those responses (and many times). I have also gone through blaming those people (as with the painting instructor) and blaming myself. If I were a really good (lovable, attractive, deserving) person the other person would have been only too delighted to help me out. Since they weren't I am obviously unworthy, unlovable, and perhaps not a good person at all. Probably no one will ever want to help me.
I let myself have these feelings, and I keep on asking, not just because I don't know how to fix that modem or mail that package, but because I believe in taking risks, because I believe that a special kind of strength comes from making myself vulnerable. It allows me to get creative about how I live my life. It teaches me trust.
So that I can keep on growing in this way I have developed some ways of dealing with rejection.
I find it helpful to realize that someone's annoyance or rejection didn't instantly plant in me my negative feelings about myself. Those feelings were lurking all the while, waiting for the opportunity to point out to me that I have some work to do in the areas of self-esteem and self-love.
I also realize that I may be interpreting that someone is annoyed, i.e. that my own expectation that they will be, or my annoyance with myself for not knowing the answer is coloring what I think is their response.
Even if they give me a clear verbal expression of annoyance I am not required to agree with their opinion of me.
I decide that "No" just means "No;" it doesn't necessarily mean, "You're a terrible person, get out of my life."
I ask myself how I respond to requests for help. Am I gracious, always glad to assist someone? Do I react negatively when someone asks me for help? Where on the general scale does my response to requests fall? Is it possible that if I respond positively to the requests of others that people may respond more positively to my own?
There is one more important thing about making requests of others. In the deepest sense when you make a request of someone you're giving them the opportunity to be generous, to contribute to the quality of your life. In ways large and small, you're allowing them to express love.
And that is a gift you should never prevent anyone from giving you.
Turquoise, one of the communication stones, helps us to communicate in a way which will encourage others to want to help us.
Citrine and rose quartz are both foundation stones for the act of making requests. Citrine helps to foster self-esteem; while rose quartz nurtures self love.
Hematite helps us to separate the emotions of others from our own. This is a very good stone for you if you internalize the rejection of others.
If you are feeling especially anxious about making a request it is very helpful to have rhodochrosite around.
The negative Water Violet (Bach Flower Remedy) condition describes the classic individual who doesn't want help, and who doesn't particular care to give it either. Such people are unusually capable and self-contained, but they don't always conscious know that they are also lonely. Taking this remedy will not eliminate any of the positive traits of such people, but helps them to be more social animals.
Mimulus (Bach Flower Remedy) is very helpful when people are afraid to ask.
Sagebrush (FES) helps people to dissolve identities they no longer wish to wear.
Pink Yarrow (FES) acts in much the same way as Hematite. It is specifically for separating oneself from the emotions of people with whom one is close; while Yarrow (FES) is for more distant relationships (the computer repair person who acts as if you are not very intelligent).
Butterfly essence helps us to experience the power of being vulnerable.