This month I have some big doings in my life. My daughter’s birthday. Typical end-of-school-year events. Negotiating with our district because my kids’ school is closing long-term. A friend’s wedding. Preparing everything for camp. Regular entrepreneur stuff. And – oh, yeah – my divorce trial.
You know that song from Oklahoma, “I’m just a girl who can’t say no?” We all know what she’s talking about. But this blog post is about something a bit different. Are you a girl who can’t say “yes”… to accepting help from others? I may naturally be just such a woman, and I’m aiming to work through it.
Professionally speaking, seeking support is a breeze for me. I’m all about delegation and collaboration. I’ve even built a business around it. And asking for long-distance personal support – a friend to listen to my stories and my feelings and brainstorm ways to address them – no problem. I’m blessed with many people I have that kind of two-way relationship with. But nearby, local support – that’s different to me.
So now comes a time when I truly need boots on the ground. During standard 9 to 5 weekday hours. People to actually take time away from their daily activities to help me with kid transportation and in-person emotional support during the days of the trial. And perhaps prepare a dinner or two.
And this makes me very uncomfortable. There’s no money involved to compensate people for their efforts. I already feel the stress they have in their full lives. Without even asking them, I have explanations about how they’re all too busy: sick family members, young children, demanding work, major life events, etc. And I certainly don’t want to put them on the spot.
In an effort to show myself compassion, I mentally put the shoe on the other foot. I asked myself: if one of my clients told me this very story, how would I respond as her coach? Would I say to her “You’re right – don’t ask for help and don’t accept any when offered. Tough it out and handle this huge load on your own.” No, that doesn’t sound right.
To a client, I’d say gently “It’s time for you to stretch beyond this limiting belief that people aren’t able to support you the way you want.” And I’d probably take it even further. I’d say “there are at least three good reasons for you to say ‘yes’ to help:
- You need it
- You deserve it
- Because you asked, others may feel more comfortable asking when they really need you”
Later, when I shared these reasons with long-distance friends, one added “Maybe these busy people would appreciate the diversion.” And the other said, “I truly believe most people enjoy helping out those around them.” So now, thanks to their input, we have five reasons.
Hey, self-compassion is lovely! It’s time for me to treat myself the way I treat others. So this week if anyone offers, I’m going to accept. And even if no one does, scared though I may be, I’m going to actually ask for what I need.
How about you?
(6/15/11 update: The “Nevers” and “Evers” in this New York Times article also apply to my current experience.)