Monday, October 5, 2009

HELP!!!

The Beatles pleaded for it, Joe Cocker got a little from his friends, and I finally broke down and asked for it.

Help.

I've always fancied myself as the strong, independent type. Who needs anyone? I can do it/fix it/figure it out myself - that's the only way to really get things done, right?

Wrong.

Over the past few months, I've found myself challenged on a variety of levels. This past week, all of those challenges seemed to gang up on me and try to take me down like a sumo wrestler fighting a 98-pound weakling. So I caved. I asked for help.

Funny thing, this "help". I was brought up to count my blessings - to know that no matter how bad you have it, someone else has it worse. And I do try to live that way. But I think at times it often precludes me from asking for assistance, simply because I realize that there are people out there who aren't as fortunate as I am, and who am I to ask for "a little help here"?

Ironically, what I found is that breaking down and asking for help has actually made me stronger.

My son is going through a rough patch right now... and has been for some time. I've read all the books and tried all the parenting tactics but to no avail. Finally, it came to a head this past week, and in complete and utter desperation, I cried out to a good friend, "HELP!"

She did just that - and spent the better part of her day doing it. Her guidance set the ball rolling to further assistance, and though the problem isn't solved, at least now I have a plan of action that I would NEVER have had if I had not asked for her help.

In addition to that, I found myself sicker than a dog this weekend. I haven't felt "right" for a few months, and finally bit the bullet and went to the doctor. I knew it wasn't anything serious, and I felt silly taking up her time with my complaints. The diagnosis? A severe ear infection that with a few days of antibiotics should clear up nicely, and abate my other symptoms as well.

Huh. I may be on to something here.

Professionally, things didn't go my way this past week as well. Passed over for a job I really wanted, at first I just assumed that I sucked. Giving it a little more thought, I sought help in the form of feedback. I received it, and now I know some areas I need to work on for that next interview or freelance job.

Three days ago, I was awash in self-pity, and at the end of my proverbial rope. I had done everything that I could do, and wondered why I couldn't find a solution, come to a conclusion, or discover the answer.

It's because I don't always have the answer.

Sometimes, you have to realize that answer - or the road to that answer - may not come from yourself, but from someone else. And it's not a sign of weakness to tell another person that you need help - it's actually a strength. By opening yourself up to others' ideas, suggestions and thoughts, you gain a new, neutral and fresh perspective on something you may have been drowning in for a long, long time. It's really no different than having a colleague proofread something you've written. You may look at it a thousand times and not see that typo. But for someone reading it for the first time, it might just jump off the page.

Finally, I try to put the shoe on the other foot. If someone asks me for help, I'm usually flattered that they've thought of me in the first place. It makes me feel good, even more so if I actually provide them with some sort of guidance or assistance. So why am I so reticent to ask for it in the first place?

We're all in this together, and we all know something that the other doesn't know. So in the immortal words of the Beatles, the next time you're in a bind, just ask, "Won't you please, please help me!"

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