Have you ever found yourself at the end of the day, physically and mentally exhausted, only to realize that your to-do list is barely even touched?
The mental load of helpers and healers--those of us who care for others as a profession, a calling, or simply out of circumstance--is tremendous. We are often saddled with expectations for satisfying the needs of others--only to realize our needs are barely met.
What does it mean for you to ask for help?
Does is mean that you're accepting some sense of defeat--that you can't do it all yourself?
Does it mean you are realizing your own limitations and that is both maddening and saddening?
Does it mean that it requires you to do even more legwork to find the help--and that makes you resentful?
Does it mean that others may be disappointed in you?
Does it mean that you are disappointed in yourself?
There are lots of layers to why we don't ask for help when we need it. Sometimes we don't realize we need it, until it's too late--we are burnt out, exhausted and our relationships are at the brink of breaking.
Let's try to ease ourselves into asking for help. Here are a few steps to get you started:
1. Check in with yourself today, after the day is over, when you sit down for the first time in hours. What is going on in your mind, in your body, and, if you can, check in with your heart. Really listen, for a minute. What is calling out to you?
2. After recognizing what is the most pertinent need--ask yourself for permission to meet that need. Literally say to yourself in your mind and heart--"I need .... right now in my life and deserve this help."
3. Breathe into that statement and see what comes up. Do you have a committee inside your head battling this potential source of help? Do you have a sense of relief with admitting that you can't do it all?
4. State to yourself "I commit to myself to meet my needs by asking for help." And move to make that commitment, right away, by seeking the help.
Examples could be:
--negotiating with roommate or partner a chore list
--contacting a friend to watch the kids once a week
--giving yourself permission to have breakfast for dinner, or delivery, or eat on paper plates, or to not do dishes every day
--telling boss that the potential project you initially agreed to is too much or that you'll be stepping away from that committee you signed up for
--reaching out to the local neighborhood teen who mows lawns for the cheap so you can take a nap instead
5. After deciding when and where you'll be accepting help, give yourself praise--great job! Keep repeating to yourself that you deserve a break and support, and that it is okay.
6. Commit to recognizing when you need help, and to reach out before you feel overwhelmed or burnt out. Guess what? Other people like to help too! Remind yourself that you are providing them a chance to take care of you--and that is awesome too.
What you choose to do may not be something you need forever, but receiving help in this way can be a major relief at least for the short term and provide you with the capacity for self-compassion and grace. When we are kind to ourselves, we are more able to make space for success in our life and relationships.