Recently I’ve been blogging about the importance of asking for help, having been forced to get over myself and find loads of different ways of asking myself! Here are a couple of my blogs: pictures to inspire you, feeling guilty and why is it so difficult? I realised that it is often actually much more pleasant for the rest of the world if I do ask for help (although I’m still a fan of a healthy balance between depending and being independent!); my husband now comes home to a much more pleasant wife, and the 4yr old has a more patient mummy.
But then I had the opposite experience, so that I really understood what it was like not to be asked. I went to see one of my favourite mummy friends, just as I was getting better. We had a lovely chat, some cake and I got to show off Wibee loads. I’d done the whole ‘so what’s been happening question’, but it wasn’t until the end that I looked at her and asked how she actually was. Only then did she admit that she had also been ill, for months, but hadn’t told me because she knew that having a second baby was bound to be tricky, and then I’d fallen ill too. She now had the all clear, but for some time she had been worried that it would be something serious.
As she explained why she hadn’t told me, I heard what she said, but here are the thoughts that immediately flashed through my mind:
- That I was a rubbish friend
- That she didn’t think I could help
- That she thought I was too selfish to be interested
This was how I’d been making other people feel all these past 40yrs, when I told them after a problem was solved, or quietly retreated into my own world during the worst times. I knew that my worries weren’t what she thought. I also knew that I hadn’t meant to make people feel the same way. But it took me a few minutes to knock some sense into my head about it and realise that she was right; there was no way that I wouldn’t have immediately been on the internet looking for ideas to help her, so she did save me from myself by not telling me!
So then I got onto a theme of thinking about other times that people haven’t asked for help.
There are definitely a few who are going for dramatic effect! So they don’t tell you until after or half way through the problem, and there is definitely an implication that it’s your fault that you couldn’t help because you didn’t know. This is again your fault, because you hadn’t taken the time to keep in touch. To be honest, I’ve probably done this too, but the reason I haven’t let people know what was going on was because when I was in the midst of the drama, I’ve forgotten to look outside my small world and keep my nearest and dearest in the loop. I also have to admit to getting slightly peeved, when I have made the effort to update people, but it just wasn’t in the right medium for them, so they still don’t know. For instance, there might be people who are not quite as close to me, but would still expect direct contact via text/phone, rather than keeping in touch via facebook/blogging. I even get grumpy if someone posts a question on my facebook wall asking for how I’m doing, rather than looking back on my profile for the info; which is really unreasonable of me, because I’m thinking they can’t be bothered, and actually they are just less aware of how to use different ways of communicating, so there is no need for them to feel guilty.
Then there are the times that we don’t ask for help, don’t ask for help, don’t ask for help, and get ourselves into such a twiddle that by the time we do ask for help it causes the helpers a great deal more trouble. The poor old in-laws had to drop everything (they have a very busy retirement: golf, special parties, seeing sick friends, family birthdays) to help when I fell very ill suddenly. Whereas, it is possible that if I’d been getting more regular help from the time that my new baby was born, I wouldn’t have fallen so very ill. Meanwhile, because I’m the most senior person certified in a particular methodology in the UK (not because I’m especially clever, just because I’ve been doing it for longer), I get people doing the same. They try to sort things out themselves and not bother me, but suddenly it all goes pear shaped, and then they need a big chunk of my time. What they don’t realise is that keeping in touch a little at a time, works much better for me, because then later on if they really need my help it will take me hardly anytime at all to get up to speed, which is much easier as a working mum.
- Us ‘people fixers‘, you know the type: healers, coaches, therapists etc etc, can get upset when people don’t ask us for help sometimes. It’s a sign that we are beginning to get our heads around the job when we see sense and realise that:
- (a) we can’t fix the whole world all at the same time and
- (b) whatever it is that we are trained in might not be what that person wants and that
- (c) strange as it may seem, some people really don’t actually want to be fixed and
- (d) sometimes people have been offered so much unsolicited help that they are sick of it!
So there are loads of reasons why we don’t ask for help, many of them valid. But next time you are tempted not to ask, remember how willing and keen people often are to help you, and that sometimes it is actually easier for them if you do, rather than putting an additional burden on them. Of course there is then the problem of what to do with help you don’t want ….. hmmm, I see another post coming on ;o)