Happy Monday YOGANONYMOUS! Although it isn’t exactly morning anymore here in New York, I hope you enjoy this week’s Mantra, and it’s never too late to ask for help!
I Will Ask for HELP
I have a secret.
I work with a life coach.
You guys? My life sometimes overwhelms me. And it’s not just the nitty things like laundry/doing the dishes/making sure I’m showered and dressed in the morning. It’s the gritty stuff; am I living my most desirable life/am I being true to myself/is this really how I want to spend the next fifty years on this earth?
And that’s a lot of gritty.
So one day, after nearly exploding with tears of frustration over all of the things that I wanted to do with my life and there seemingly not being NEARLY enough time for me to do them in, I phoned it in.
I finally asked for help.
Why is it that we feel that we can’t ask for help? Is it because we feel that it is a sign of weakness to enlist others to manage certain aspects of our lives? At work, we take on more projects than are humanly possible to complete by the deadline in which they are expected to be completed. It leaves us stressed and emotional; yet we don’t delegate or reach out to let others know that we need their assistance. At home, we run around picking up toys, folding the laundry, cooking dinner, and signing permission slips, all at the same time. We feel frazzled and JUST WISH there were more hours in the day. But we don’t ask someone to help cook us dinner or fold our laundry or pick up the toys. Why is it only when we arrive at a point of near meltdown do we finally pick up the phone or open an email and ask someone to help us? Why can’t we just ask for help when we have a little inkling that we might need it?
When I emailed Michelle, I knew that I was literally drowning. I was frustrated with my job, with my roommates, and with the progress I was making in my life. And though Michelle didn’t give me the answers (that’s not the job of a life coach), she’s been helping me narrow down the things that I really want to do and cutting away the fluff things that I feel like I should be doing.
And I haven’t had a meltdown about my life in over a month.
And I feel like I have some direction. And there are things that I’m excited about again in my life. And I don’t think it’s Michelle, per se (although she is fierce and amazing and I love seeing emails from her pop up in my inbox). It’s that I know someone out there cares as much about my questions, my concerns, and my life as me. And she’s committed to helping me figure it out. I don’t feel quite so alone in my battle against my options.
Which brings me back to my original question: why don’t we make it a habit to ask for help?
It may be that there is an overwhelming theme in our Western culture to be independent and to be a leader: of your house, your job, your family, whatever. It’s true that Americans have a culture of individualism (whereas many European and Asian cultures have one of collectivism). We move out of our parents house at a young age, we go away to university, we vastly prefer to live alone than with our families if we can afford it. And to boot, if someone that we know does live with their family, we view culturally it as a weakness. So, from the get go, this culture of individualism is engrained in our brains. And individuals don’t ask for help. We sailed the dang Mayflower, for goodness sake. We don’t need anyone picking up our laundry.
But cultural musings aside, it’s hard to ask for help. It’s hard for our ego to realize that we can’t handle it all, especially when everyone around us looks like they’re handling “it all” so well. We feel inadequate, scared, and stupid when we don’t live up to society’s standard. So we look to others who have “perfect lives” and we try to create our own perfection: we volunteer more, we sign our kids up for more activities, we take on more responsibility at work/church functions/book club. But instead of feeling perfect and excited by all these new activities, we feel bogged down, anxious, and miserable. And it’s at this moment that we no longer own our lives; our lives own us.
So when it gets to that point, the point where you’re miserable, and hysterical, and on the verge of an anxiety ridden-cry-fest (and not because you’re watching the Notebook) I say, don’t be shy. Ask someone for help.
If you can’t seem to get the laundry done, send it out if you can afford it. Your sanity is worth it, trust me. If you can’t afford it, look at activities or commitments that you can cut back on in your life so that you have more time to do your laundry.
If you’re feeling emotional and you’re not sure why, hire a therapist. Who’s to tell you that you’re supposed to know all about your own feelings all the time? I’d say I correctly guess my own feeling half of the time.
Ask for help. Today. Right now. Really. It’s not a weakness. I even think that, if someone can sit down and recognize that they are far too busy to be actively engaged in their life and thus ask for help from others, it’s a strength. You can start small; asking someone to babysit, asking your friend to listen to you without judgment. From there, you can move on to professional help. There’s pretty much a coach for ANYTHING nowadays. You can hire a professional organizer, a productivity coach, a life coach. Whatever! And while you may think that it’s a waste of money to hire someone to sort out your life, just think of it as an investment into yourself. An investment into your sanity and your self-knowledge.
Asking for help shouldn’t be seen as a weakness, and this week, I’m going to try to focus on aspects of my life in which I should be asking for help. And I will not feel bad because I can’t “handle my own life.” I’ll feel good (amazing, in fact) to know that there is someone out there that cares about my life just as much as I care about it.
Have you ever hired or thought about hiring a professional coach to help you sort out your life? I’d love to hear about it!