February 10th - Welcome to day 10 of the Myrrhmade Love Where You Are Challenge!
Come on in and join us!
Day 10: Ask For Help.
Another way to phrase this is: allow yourselves to be helped.
I'm a strong, capable, independent woman, and I can't do it all. There, I said it. While perhaps no one but myself ever expected me to be able to, I find it a challenge sometimes to ask for help, especially if I need it. I don't want to feel needy and particularly don't want to seem needy.
However, we're all humans (I assume ;) ) and as such, we are inherently social. I'm not talking about levels of extroversion or introversion, I'm talking about reliance on other humans.
It can be argued that animals can, within a very short time of birth or hatching, do whatever trait is one of their primary means of surviving. It's astounding how quickly newly birthed lambs and foals get up on their wobbly legs and are able to move about. Us humans, with our gargantuan craniums for heads, what can we do? We can call out for help.
While most of us, at least in western culture, are guided and pushed towards independence, we do still rely on each other.
And we all want to feel useful. We cannot close ourselves off from receiving help without also closing ourselves off from feelings of connectedness and belonging.
Daily Challenge: Allow yourself to be helped.
While I'm often reticent to accept help out of a desire not to feel indebted, it is exactly this kind of give and take that fosters community, healthy relationships, and a sense of well-being.
It is very different to allow yourself to receive out of a place of love than from a sense of self-lack.
You are enough. You have always been enough. You will always be enough. You have so much to give and some of what you have to give is through the gift of receiving.
There's a delightful song (that I learned from this lovely video) that goes:
A time to be happy is now.
A place to be happy is here.
And the way to be happy is to make others happy
And to bring a little heaven down here.
Those of us who have intentionally kept that interconnectedness at bay out of having separated ourselves from any unhealthy codependent situations may have to purposefully cultivate healthy boundaries AND let's not throw the baby out with the bathwater.
We all have things to give. We all have ways we can benefit by allowing others to give to us. Particularly in these times, the world could use more healthy giving and receiving.
"Life doesn't make any sense without interdependence. We need each other, and the sooner we learn that, the better for us all." -Erik Erikson
Allowing others to be useful in our lives is a gift rather than a failing of our own.
Another type of receiving is in relation to those who are (often much) younger than ourselves. To paraphrase and shift a popular saying about parenting:
Let them help with the little things when they are little so that they will help with the big things when they are big, because to them, they were always big things.
Daily Mindset Mantra: I am enough and I am open to receiving.
I am a Highly Sensitive Person (more about HSPs here) as well as an empath.
Many of my most vivid memories from childhood were the emotional reactions of the adults around me to situations that didn't elicit the same reactions in me. I'm highly attuned to how the people around me are feeling. I fall in the extroverted side of the interverion/extroversion scale but have trouble in groups of more than a few people because of emotional input overload.
How does this relate? I'm used to being in the position of anticipating the needs of others, sometimes even before they formulate the words to ask. I can't tell you the number of times at a meal where I've seen someone glance around at the table and then handed them what they were looking for without them having said a word, or answered another student's question before the teacher figured out what they were asking.
When we contribute to the lives of others from a place of "enoughness," it is an incredible gift.
If I contribute from a place of people pleasing or to pre-emptively meet the needs of ehem, say, for example, a child, ehem, so that I don't get yelled at... it's a whole different event.
In order to continue to give, particularly from a place of wellbeing, it's necessary to allow our own reservoirs to be filled.
If you close off your ability to receive help, you also close off your ability to receive joy.
Numbing ourselves to the roughness of the world, also numbs our ability to Love Where We Are.
(If this topic intrigues you, I highly recommend Brene Brown's work on vulnerability: that vulnerability requires great strength.)
Bonus task: Say thank you or give back in return for help you've received in the past.
Just as we can ask for help from a place of wholeness, we can give from a place of gratitude.
One of my favorite stories to tell the girls, one of the longer stories that gets requested regularly, is called The Apple Cake.
In it, an old woman with a plum tree wants to make an apple cake so she goes out with a basket full of plums in hopes of trading.
Eventually, throughout the course of her day she trades the plums for a bag of feathers, the feathers for a bouquet of flowers, and the flowers for a gold chain. Going on her way she sees a poor woman with hungry children tugging at her skirts and the old woman decides to give her the chain rather than continue to try to get ingredients to make a cake.
The poor woman thanks her and blesses her and gives her a little dog - one of the only things the poor woman has to give. When the old woman soon finds an apple tree laden with ripe fruit, she finds it's owned by an old man longing for a little dog.
Everyone everywhere wants to have a good life and part of having a good life is knowing that you make a difference for others. Part of making a difference for others is allowing them to be important to you.
A couple of weeks ago at the dinner table, I thanked the girls for the extra help they'd given me that afternoon. As I paused to take a bite, my younger daughter said quietly,
"Mama, I'd really like to help more but I don't always know how, I try but it doesn't seem like you want me to."
As a mom of little ones, getting "help" with tasks often takes more time than doing the tasks myself.
However, if I'm playing the long game, it takes much less effort to teach them how to help (including all the helping them help) than to continue to do all these tasks on my own.
Particularly at present when it's just me and the two of them, it can be easy to feel a little like The Little Red Hen - "Well then, I'll do it myself." However, we close ourselves off from the joy of being together, the connection of interdependence, and the joy of feeling useful and important.
I have had two different neighbors snowblow my long driveway in the past few weeks. I keep my plate very full and this made things much less stressful and saved me hours and hours of shoveling.
While they certainly didn't expect anything in return, I was so grateful to be able to give a few blank cards and a piece of flourless chocolate cake as a thank you, to strengthen our relationship and build community.
How are you allowing yourself to receive? How are you strengthening your friendships and investing in your community by allowing interdependence?
We need this more than ever.
Make sure to check back here tomorrow for the next challenge, the next tips, and the next dose of the Myrrhmade Love Where You Are Challenge.