Why do we find it so challenging to say yes?
I’m really not one for quotes. In fact, I’ll actively avoid buying anything that has words or phrases on it. Which is seemingly ironic because I love words. I also cringe when someone opens with a quote but here we are. Oscar Wilde once said ‘There is a luxury in self-reproach. When we blame ourselves, we feel that no one else has a right to blame us’. I’ve always remembered that because well, it’s true isn’t it? Asking for help is SO HARD. It’s so hard. I’m not sure Wilde is talking about asking for help specifically and he sure as hell wasn’t a mother, but it echoes a similar sentiment.
There are countless self-help books out there that focus on asking for help, why we should do it and how we go about it. It’s almost as if writers realise they can make money from knowing it’s something humanity struggles with on a personal, professional and emotional basis? Amanda Palmer author of ‘The Art of Asking’ writes ‘From what I've seen, it isn't so much the act of asking that paralyzes us--it's what lies beneath: the fear of being vulnerable, the fear of rejection, the fear of looking needy or weak. The fear of being seen as a burdensome member of the community instead of a productive one. It points, fundamentally, to our separation from one another.'
How many times have we been offered help but it’s not quite what we need but we haven’t articulated what it is? Sometimes it’s because we don’t want to offend - help is help right? Sometimes it’s because we don’t want to impose but sometimes it’s because we don’t actually know what it is we need. Our baby is crying and we are exhausted but we don’t want someone to come and take the baby away to give us sleep (cue anxiety induced separation, are they crying because I’m crying) or the house is a mess but we don’t want someone to come and clean it (well maybe sometimes we do). Most of the time we don’t even think about what it is we need until it’s too late. Everyone is upset or cross or asleep and we haven’t figured out what help we could really do with.
Someone close said to me once (after breaking down with tiredness and feeling totally overwhelmed), ‘what can I do to help? I’m here.’ And I didn’t have an answer. There was so much they could do to help but I felt like I wasn’t prepared to accept help for any of it.
It’s a mantra we hear over and over again, the absence of The Village in 2019. Very few of us have a plentiful, readily available source of help on our doorstep. People who we trust and are aligned with. An offer of help from a neighbour, whilst intent is there, is hard to accept from someone we don’t wholly know. And a promise of basic chore aid from a friend is easier to accept but then we don’t want to impose on their schedule.
There are a multitude of reasons why we struggle to accept help; pride, worried about what others think of you, feeling vulnerable, not being the ‘perfect mother’ or unrealistic ideals, the list continues.
The crux of our discussion was this - we can do it. We know we can do it but life could be so much easier if we accepted help. Perhaps it’s in the small things - letting a friend run that errand if they are closer in distance or getting someone in to clean the house one week. It’s likely that things won’t be completed to the standards that you’ve set yourself but that’s okay. Everything will continue and the world will carry on. No one is perfect and no mum is an island. We all love to help, it makes us feel good - let someone feel good for helping you.