I was catching up on my blog reading on one of my favorite blogs, http://www.happiness-project.com/happiness_project, when I thought I’d add my thoughts to Gretchen Rubin’s latest entry on “Asking for Help”. Unfortunately, the site wouldn’t accept my response. I think the problem was that maybe my comment was too long… (No… Ya Think?) So, I decided to go ahead and post my expanded comment and thoughts — a pure happiness project post — over here. Why not? After all, this IS my happiness project. But, since my life and happiness are forever intermingled with Down syndrome-related topics given I am mother to 4-year-old identical twin boys who happen to have been blessed – YES BLESSED – with an extra 21st chromosome, in a superficial but real attempt to bridge the two topics, know that despite an upbeat attitude, my life is sometimes hard. Sometimes very hard… Every decision is complicated by the circumstances of our lives (isn’t every one’s?). Mind you, I wouldn’t trade my situation for any one elses. Life is good. I’m just saying… Often times, I find myself in the unfortunate position of needing, wanting and feeling awkward about asking for help. So, let me share my experience and wisdom (LOL) on the topic… for those who care to read about it:
It is an amazing happiness boost to ask for help when it’s truly needed and to receive the help you need and want. But, part of that tenet should be to ask for help from someone who has the means and desire to actually provide you with the type of help you need and want. Sadly, asking for help of the wrong person when you really need it can be devastating and getting a refusal or the wrong kind of help can make your happiness quotient crash big time.
For some, family members are just the right people to ask for/and provide help. Delivering it with love and care and no strings attached. For others, asking family members for help is a recipe for disaster — with all the history and baggage that comes along with family relationships, the request and delivery can be fraught with frustration and disappointment. Sometimes asking an acquaintance or even an unknown person [in the position to help] is a better option and may even result in a new or stronger relationship.
Finally, asking for help too often can also result in a negative response. And, doing things for yourself can have a huge happiness boost — growing your self-confidence and skills. So, be sure you’re asking when you really need it and doing for yourself when you can and should. That sounds easier than it is – maybe touching on the personality types… givers and takers — but it’s worth some thought before you ask.
I’ve seen many of these dynamics at work in my own life with various [types of] people in my family and with my friends — from both sides of the help equation… helping others and being helped. So, if you’re asking for help, make sure you really need it, be as specific or generic as is necessary and make sure you’re asking someone in a position to help you. Also, make sure you’re prepared to forgive them (for your own good) if they refuse. A refusal isn’t always a personal affront. Sometimes, it’s not about you… It might be bad timing, personal issues or selfishness on their part. Then again, it might be about you. Maybe you ask for too much, too specific, or too often. Or maybe it’s something as simple as you remind them of someone they don’t like and they just won’t do it… Whatever! On examination, you may come to understand a refusal… you may not. Either way, when you ask for help, you need to be prepared to weather your own emotions if/when you get a, “No” response. Or even a “Sure”… but the help never actually comes — a totally different type of refusal — or comes in a form that’s not really all that helpful.
Done with an open mind and heart, helping others and being helped is a wonderful happiness boost. It’s the give and take, the yin and yang of human relationships. But, it works best for all involved if the helper has the means and desire to help and the helpee really needs the help and accepts whatever response is offered, graciously.
I try to help whenever I’m asked… if it’s possible… reasonable. That is, if it doesn’t interfere with me caring for my immediate family or for myself. (I don’t mean this last part selfishly. I’m a person who too often puts my own basic needs last… and that’s not good for me or my family). I also try to do things myself first and then ask for help only when I’ve come to the conclusion that I cannot do it myself. And, I accept help when someone [or almost anyone] is offering it (even if I didn’t ask for it). That’s a gift I can give to them – letting them help me – as well as receive by getting assistance with whatever task I have at hand… even if I could have done it myself. In those cases, everyone wins!
For all those of you who have helped me in your own way… my deepest and sincerest gratitude! I would not be here were it not for all the help I’ve received over the years.