I like to think of myself as independent and resourceful, and as someone who helps and supports others. As a values and beliefs set, these go deep with me.
From an early age (and with the best of intentions from my parents), I got a lot of positive re-enforcement when I was able to look after myself and to be ‘no trouble’. Mum and Dad fostered new-born babies as well as bringing up my brother, sister and I. My grandmother had always been in ill-health too, and also demanded care and attention from my parents. So Mum and Dad always had lots on their plate and plenty of things to worry about; I tried to make quite sure I didn’t add to their burden and helped where I could.
It was instilled in me that we ‘help those less fortunate than ourselves’. But this worthy sentiment has a shadow side too. Without being aware of it, the unconscious belief that grew and took root in a darker corner of my mind was ‘therefore those who need help are weaker, and needier. If I ask for help I’ll show that I am weak, vulnerable and a burden to others. Asking for help is a sign I’ve failed to do it myself’.
Hmm, what nasty, insidious, damaging unconscious beliefs!! Now my conscious mind knows this is all simply not true, but alas, much as I would like it otherwise, my conscious mind is not the one who’s really in charge.
These deeply help unconscious beliefs are often what lead to me feeling overwhelmed, martyred and resentful, simply because I shoulder burdens and tasks alone, unwilling to reach out to others who could lighten the load.
I ASSUME it will be a trouble to them, that I will annoy or irritate them by asking, or that they will do the task in a way I don’t want – and of course I won’t be able to say ‘no, that’s not what I want’ for fear of upsetting them further!
I’m slowly unhooking this belief through experimentation and small challenges to myself – simple direct requests to my nearest and dearest: “Would you empty the dishwasher please?” “It would be a big help to me if you could do the drama run tonight.”
I’m building a support network of professionals around me to help with those tasks I neither enjoy nor are good at – cleaner, digital marketing manager, accountant and shortly a Virtual Assistant – although I still have a way to go with clarity and cleanness of how I ask even here!
I know in my heart that it is strength, not weakness, to ask others for help – because in turn it allows me to be at my best to give back. But it takes time to change the habits of a lifetime!