I grew up in a family where needs were NOT ok. If I needed something it felt to me like that someone would think there was something terribly wrong with me. It seemed that each one of my family members functioned all alone and acted like they knew exactly what they were doing. Needing something made you vulnerable. And that was not a good thing. So everyone carried themselves with a false sense of confidence that covered up a lot of fear of being judged and at the same time not knowing what they were doing or who they were supposed to be.
So the way I kept myself “safe” was to become very self reliant. I knew in my young mind that I could take care of my needs, well, mostly. And I knew not to ask anyone else for help because they might say, “No,” or disappoint me in some other way that would feel devastating. This was a very good strategy (I thought) for a very long time. I remember many years ago in my early 20’s my aunt saying to me that she thought I was very strong. I laughed to myself because I didn’t feel strong at all. I felt sad and lonely, unloved and unsupported. I felt like I should have had a different family. A more loving family. Truth was that strength was something I erected to keep myself safe. But, apparently from the outside I seemed different than I felt on the inside. I didn’t come across as soft or vulnerable because I had my shield up. And that was the way I was for many years.
I still have some of that self-reliance and, to tell you the truth, I like it. I can do a lot of things, I am often inspired to take actions that would stop others dead in their tracks, I can be relentless in figuring things out. And I have fun doing it—until I feel, again, unsupported. Unfortunately I can also still keep people out of my life by not asking for help.
So I have been learning to ask for help, to let others into my more vulnerable self. To admit that I don’t know everything and can’t do everything either. And to trust that no matter whether someone gives me the help or not, I am okay. One thing I’m learning is that when I’m not “perfect” that gives other people permission to be themselves too. When I ask for help, oftentimes I receive so much more than if I had done it on my own.
What is your relationship with asking for help? Do you feel comfortable asking? Do you feel like you are too “needy”? What is the difference for you?