“A little boy was having difficulty lifting a heavy stone.
His father came along just then.
Noting the boy’s failure, he asked, “Are you using all your strength?”
“Yes, I am,” the little boy said impatiently.
“No, you are not,” the father answered.
“I am right here just waiting, and you haven’t asked me to help you.”
I am ashamed to say that it wasn’t until I was in my early 30’s that I learned to be OK with asking for help and letting it be known what I want. Growing up in a single-parent home there were difficult times and my mother made it clear that we are not to discuss what goes on in our home-it was nobody’s business. I carried this mentality with me to adulthood. I saw myself as strong and independent and viewed asking anyone for help as a weakness. No matter if it was something I wanted or needed, from a friend, family or stranger, I wouldn’t ask unless it was absolutely necessary and when others came to me for help, NO wasn’t in my vocabulary.
In my mind, I had to maintain the image of a strong independent woman. It took one of my close friends telling me off in the middle of my work-shift for me to begin to change my ways. While I don’t remember what the situation was, she came to my job because she going to help me with something. I told her thanks, but I would figure it out. Her response “Why don’t you let anyone help you? We are friends and this is what we do!! You don’t hesitate to help us, but you push us away when you need help. The same way it makes you feel good to be able to help us, let us feel good and help you.” (re-read and imagine your closest friend yelling this at you with pure frustration in her eyes)
While I began to allow others to help, if they asked, I still didn’t let it be known what I wanted or needed at work, with my family, nor in my relationships. While working with my therapist, she helped me understand that if I need help or I want something, I have to let it be known. No one is a mind reader. I was also told I was “too independent”. The idea of being “too independent” made no sense to me. (This topic will be discussed in a future post) One piece that was key to getting past being “too independent” was the understanding that by not expressing my needs and wants I left my happiness up to others. I was depending on them for my happiness!!
If you struggle with expressing your needs, wants and/or expectations to others remember this:
Know your limits. Know what you want. Know what you need. It’s OK to ask for help. It’s OK for you to let it be known what you want. It’s OK to tell others what you need. Despite the perception (and sometimes the expectation) we cannot do it all alone, all of the time.
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