Have you known someone who repeatedly fails to accomplish a goal and you know just what they need to succeed, but when you share it with them they reject your advice? Have you been that person when someone wanted to help you? Giving and receiving help can be complicated so I invite you to take a closer look at the issue of asking for the help we really want and receiving it graciously.
Why is it so hard to get the help you want or need?
In order to make this a more comfortable thought exercise, let's use fictional characters instead of you or I. And since it's almost Christmas let's say this scenario is about Santa and an elf named Bernard.
People are offering the kind of help we don't want. Santa has millions of toys to create, and a long list of other tasks to complete, and just one year to get it all done. Santa says he's feeling overwhelmed so Bernard suggests revamping the entire toy factory system to make it more efficient. This isn't a bad idea at face value, but it doesn't sit right with Santa for some reason. He's more the traditional type so he wants to stick with the current system and have Bernard help run things the way they have been doing it for hundreds of years. Just hearing Bernard's idea makes Santa hesitant to discuss it with him further because he knows he's only trying to help and he doesn't want to offend his friend. Santa decides to just run the operation himself and give Bernard an inconsequential task for the time being.
We don't know what kind of help we want. Bernard is disappointed that Santa didn't use his idea, but his primary goal is to get the toys to the kids so he goes along with the plan this year and saves his ideas for another time. However, he does invite the perpetually stressed out Santa to sit down for a chat (with hot cocoa and peppermint cookies) to ask "Santa, how can I be of more help to you?" What a great thing for Bernard to do! But Santa finds himself unable to answer the question.
We don't value help because we believe we are self-sufficient. After talking it over with Bernard, Santa realizes that, though he doesn't like to admit it, he thinks he can do everything on his list by himself. Or, at least, that he should be able to do everything by himself. Santa isn't sure where this idea came from but he hopes to change his approach and receive more support from Bernard so that he can better serve the children of the world. Great start, Santa!
How can you get the help you really want or need?
As Santa's coach in this scenario I would ask him to answer the questions below.
What would be more helpful than what Bernard offered to you? Santa wishes Bernard would save his ideas for efficiency for their planning meeting in January. For now Santa just wants Bernard to check in about today's tasks and take on what tasks can be delegated. Santa felt pressured by Bernard's suggestions and he would feel better supported if Bernard would focus on what's possible now that Christmas is almost here.
What other kind of help do you need? It takes him a few minutes to think of it and then Santa realizes he needs some time to recharge. He's working all day and all night. But if Bernard could remind him to take a break a few times a day, that would help him to approach his work with energy and a clear mind. Now Santa sees that Bernard can also oversee the other elves while Santa takes his breaks so that he can rest knowing that the work is still being done. Santa feels a bit lighter already!
Santa, what are you learning about yourself right now? Santa is learning that there really are ways that other people can help him do this work even if he keeps his traditional systems. Santa is learning that he does need help after all and he has been asking more of himself than is necessary to get the job done.
Living in community enriches life because we all need help sometimes, whether we're comfortable admitting it or not. And it's always a little easier to carry a burden together than by yourself. Thank you for being part of my community this year!
I wish you a Merry Christmas and happy holidays!
Your $30 registration fee now includes access to the recording after the workshop (as long as you attend because we share deeply sometimes!) and a 30-minute follow-up consultation to help you apply what you’ve learned.
December 19 & 21 | Helping Hands — Giving & Receiving Care
The whole world is having a hard time right now. But asking for help and receiving help isn’t always easy. A lot of the time we don’t even know what we need! This workshop will help you learn what serves you best and how to ask for it even when everyone around you is struggling. And, since we all could use a helping hand, we’ll also identify ways to help others without ending up feeling depleted.
-Saturday, December 19 at 11am to 12:30pm CDT
-Monday, December 21 at 7:30am to 9:00am CDT