Sometimes, reaching for the help you need takes bravery and courage because of the fear of rejection and the heartbreak that follows this rejection. And it’s vitally important when asking for help from others or from your spiritual guidance to make sure you are asking from your loving adult rather than from your wounded self.
Hi everyone. Dr. Margaret Paul here with the Inner Bonding podcast. Today I’m speaking about the bravery it takes to ask for help. This topic came from a lovely little book called The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse, by Charlie Mackesy. Not only are the messages in this little book wonderful, the illustrations are delightful. In this sweet book, the boy is able to speak with the animals and the animals have gems of wisdom for him. This topic came from this: “What’s the bravest thing you’ve ever said,” asked the boy. ‘Help,’ said the horse.” This resonated for me because asking for help – physically, emotionally, spiritually, or financially – has been challenging for me in my life.
I never asked my mother for help because I knew early that there was no way she could help me. She was not a tuned in person. I could ask my father for help for mechanical things, and he could fix and build anything, so I could always ask him for help regarding things around my house, as well as adding an addition to my house. He was always glad to help on that level without strings attached, but he was not at all available for help on the emotional or spiritual level. On that level, I was on my own growing up.
In my long marriage, I couldn’t ask my husband for help with tasks or chores because he would say he would help and then completely resist helping. I finally learned to never ask him for help and instead hired people to help. My children, especially my sons, would help with things they liked to do, but not if I needed help with things they weren’t interested in. So, I learned to only ask my sons for help with computer issues.
I learned that when I asked for help when I really needed it and the people who claimed to love me wouldn’t help, it hurt my heart so much that I became reluctant to ask for help. The same become true with close friends. I remember a couple of times when I needed to go to urgent care and a good friend wouldn’t take me, and I had to take myself. This was so deeply painful to me that it took a long time for me to be able to ask anyone for help.
I’ve always been the kind of person who gives help to others, if I can, with no strings attached and no resentment, and of course it’s painful when others won’t do the same. This is where bravery comes in. It takes bravery and courage for me to ask for help and run the risk that the person I’m asking won’t care about me enough to help me, or that they will go into resistance because their fear of being controlled is greater than their caring. It takes courage for me to risk the heartbreak and loneliness to ask for help and run into the person’s resistance, or just as painful, their doing it with resentment.
I asked Dr. Erika Chopich, the co-creator of Inner Bonding, what her thoughts were about this issue, and we had a conversation about this.
“When you ask for help,” she said, “you have to accept that there’s only a 50% chance it’ll go well. That’s why most people won’t do it. When you ask for help, sometimes it’s because you have no choice but to ask someone who isn’t generally helpful, and sometimes it’s because you choose poorly who to ask for help from. Sometimes it’s brave to ask for help, but at other times it’s brave not to, because you don’t want to set your inner child up to get hurt. That’s not loving to yourself.
“Even with professionals whom you pay, like an attorney or a doctor or a therapist, I’ve found that there is at least a 50% chance that after a time they are not helpful – that they take your money, but they don’t help.”
“I think that it’s harder,” I said, “if it’s a partner or one of your kids or a relative or a friend. It’s harder to ask them for help and it’s more painful if they don’t help. It’s one thing to hire someone and pay them and then discover that the professional isn’t helping, and another thing to be rejected by someone who says they love you.”
“Right,” Erika said. “It’s hard and I can see why people go ‘Why bother? It’s easier to do it myself.’ Then they don’t have to risk getting hurt.
“Then there’s the people who say, ‘Oh I’m happy to help,’ but it feels awful and draining. That’s the other side of the coin because the giving is a disguised pull on your energy, and you might feel like saying, ‘Get away from me.’ You don’t want their help because they are pulling for approval. That doesn’t feel caring either.
“Then there are people who are help rejecting,” Erika went on to say. “Some people like some of the people who have worked in the barn and can have our help and support are completely help rejecting. They are never going to ask for help from anybody for anything because of fear of losing themselves or feeling obligated.
“Then there are people,” Erika went on to say, “who when you ask for help, give off the energy of, ‘I’m really busy. I’ll do this for you, but I’ll do it as a martyr. I’ll do it with resentment, but you owe me.’”
“Yeah,” I said. “The owing thing is one of the reasons I find it hard to ask for help. The idea of someone believing that I owe them feels terrible.”
“Right, said Erika. ‘There’s no love or kindness or lightness of being or true service attached to the help when people do it with resentment.”
“I think lots of times parents help their adult children,” I said, “with those strings attached, like they’ll help them financially but then they believe their children owe them, and they have expectations that their children tow the line. They might help their children with paying for college, but they say, ‘I’ll help you through college as long as you major in what I want you to major in.’”
“Right,” said Erika. “We know that this happened with one of the young men who worked for us in the barn, and he loved it and was very talented with horses. He wanted to become a trainer in natural horseman, but his father insisted he go to college and major in business. His father took the guy’s passion away. He lasted a year in college and now he’s an alcoholic. He already had low self-esteem, and he went to college and washed out, and now he’s not doing anything he cares about. He’s miserable so he drinks.
If his father had offered to pay for his horsemanship training, this kid would have been a major success because he’s very talented with horses and that’s where he came alive. That’s what he loved. He lived for that, and his father took that away from him. And his father is still not getting that. When the young man said to me, ‘Well I’m going to go to this college and major in business,’ I was flabbergasted. I said, ‘I thought you wanted to be a horse trainer,’ and he said, “No, my dad really wants me to major in business. He thinks that’s better.’ And now his father doesn’t understand why his son is so miserable and why he now won’t accept any emotional help from him.”
“Some of my clients,” I said, “who have wealthy parents feel obligated to be with their needy and pulling parents because they’re giving them money and they need the money. The parents see their kids as possessions, and they don’t know how to give without strings attached. It seems so rare for people to give without strings attached. So many of my clients say, ‘I don’t want to ask for anything because then I’ll be obligated.”
“Yeah, that is true,” Erika said. “Many people do not give freely and with love. And if you really are in a bind, or maybe your health is failing and you really need help, the stress of it is so great because now you’re going to have to ask for help, and if your family gives with strings attached, it’s grueling and it might make you feel diminished or incompetent.
“If you are the person who’s being asked for help, you have much to do with determining the experience, so who you are when someone asks you for help defines who you are. Like a person we know who volunteers everywhere, but that has nothing to do with being of service – it has to do with being seen, with controlling how people see her. I’ve never known that woman to give from the heart.”
“But” I said, “on the other side of the coin, when you ask for help from say, a partner, you have to be in a place where it’s OK for your partner to say no without getting punished. Otherwise, asking for help becomes a manipulation. They have to say yes to avoid your anger. Like maybe a partner will say, ‘Would you mind doing the dishes tonight because I’m really tired,’ but the other person is not allowed to say, ‘Well I’m tired too, so let’s leave them for the morning.’ And if the person asking for help gets angry about it, that’s not really asking for help. That a demand, not a request. And, if the person says no because they just can’t do it at that time and then the person asking for help gets angry, it means that the person asking expected to be in control and they get angry at feeling rejected. In this case, they were asking from their wounded self, not from their loving adult, unless what they are asking for is an emergency. In a relationship, you have to be in a place where the other person has the freedom to say no, and that takes courage. You have to be brave to ask for help and be willing to hear ‘no.’
“And,” Erika said, ‘sometimes people say no just to be resistant or exert control, rather than because they are taking care of themselves in the moment. And of course, in this situation, they are not being at all caring. I’ve seen that even in my own family, somebody is really in bad shape and they’re asking for sincere help, and they get rejected and slammed. The bottom line is that asking for help is risky and often so painful, and that’s why many people won’t do it.
As I’ve often said, I so appreciate Erika’s point of view
When you really need help, it takes bravery and courage to reach out and ask for help. And it’s equally important to be honest with yourself about whether you are asking from your loving adult or your wounded self. When you reach for help, are you loving yourself or abandoning yourself – are you taking responsibility for yourself or handing your inner child over to another person?
A client of mine, Dorothy, asked an important question:
“What is the difference between turning to someone for genuine help and handing my little girl over to them?”
The difference is in your intent.
When your intent is to be loving to yourself, but you are stuck or ill and you need help, you are being a loving adult when you reach out for help. You are not asking someone to do it for you – you are asking them to help you and do it with you. You are not asking them to be your loving adult – you are asking them to be a second loving adult along with you as a loving adult.
There are many times in life when we cannot manage a situation alone, or when we need help in understanding what to do for ourselves. The loving adult is not stuck in the false belief that we have to do everything ourselves. Just as when you are physically ill and you reach for, hopefully, good professional help, or you have a legal problem and you reach to, again hopefully, a good attorney for help, the loving adult reaches for help emotionally and spiritually when feeling emotionally stuck or overwhelmed. If you can’t get the help you need from family or friends, then the loving adult reaches to, hopefully, an excellent professional for help.
The loving adult understands that there is a big difference between dependency and interdependency, and that being overly independent isn’t self-loving either. Interdependency is healthy – we are social beings, and we need each other for help and support. Being there for each other – having each other’s backs – is one of the great perks of being in a relationship – provided there is genuine caring between you.
When we can count on each other’s caring and trustworthiness, then we don’t need nearly as much courage and bravery to ask for help – provided you are asking as a loving adult.
But if you are abandoning yourself and your intent is to get someone to take responsibility for you rather than with you – unless you are incapacitated and cannot take care of yourself, then your wounded self is in charge. You likely come from some false beliefs. Here are just a few of the beliefs you might be coming from:
- You have given and given as a caretaker, and you believe others owe you.
- You have an entitlement issue and believe others owe you.
- You are in a relationship, and you believe your partner owes you to take care of you in various ways – sexually, emotionally, physically, financially.
- You believe that others can do whatever it is you want better than you, so it’s their job to do it.
- You believe it’s other people’s job to give you what you didn’t get as you were growing up and are now not giving to yourself.
- You believe that others – rather than spirit – are your source of love.
When the wounded self is in charge, you are, of course, abandoning yourself, and you then try to have control over others giving you the attention, love, and compassion that you are not giving yourself, or to do for you things that you are capable of doing for yourself. You want the other person to be your loving adult and higher power, so you hand your inner child over to them.
Most people respond very differently when you are showing up for yourself and you need their help, then when you are abandoning yourself and handing responsibility to them for your feelings or needs. When you are a loving adult asking for help, most people are happy to be of help. When you have abandoned yourself and you are trying to get the other person to take responsibility for your feelings and needs, most people feel pulled on and might respond by withdrawing. Unless someone is deeply addicted to caretaking, they don’t want responsibility for you. If they do take responsibility for you, there will likely be a big price to pay, in that they then expect you to give yourself up for them. They might help you as a way to control you rather than from love with no strings attached.
The moment you abandon yourself and hand your inner child to someone else, your inner child will feel rejected by you, so nothing the other person does will actually make a big difference. The other person cannot make up for your self-abandonment and self-rejection, so you will continue to feel badly – even if the other person is caring and compassionate or does the dishes for you or makes a meal for you or helps you with whatever else you want or need help with. No one can make up to you for your own self-rejection. No matter what others to do help you, you will likely not feel loved unless you are operating from your loving adult, loving yourself, rather than from your wounded self, rejecting and abandoning yourself.
It’s important, when you want help, to first be honest with yourself about your intent. Are you reaching out as a loving adult, being brave and loving to yourself, or are you operating from your wounded self and abandoning yourself to the other person? Is the help you want something you really need, or are you making the other person responsible for you? It’s your intent that determines the outcome and how you end up feeling.
Often, it also takes courage and bravery to ask spirit for comfort, wisdom, help, and strength.
Some of us were brought up to believe that we have to do everything ourselves – that we are weak if we ask for help. Others of us are brought up to believe that we are entitled to expect others to do things for us. Both of these false beliefs may make it hard to open to your guidance and ask for spiritual help and support.
My client, Scott, had been struggling with a sex addiction for many years. In his late 30’s, he wanted to get married and have a family, and he realized that turning to porn on the Internet for his gratification was keeping his frequency too low to attract the kind of woman he wanted to marry.
Scott was one of those people who believed he was weak if he asked for help, and also that he was entitled to expect a woman to take care of his needs for sex and love. The combination of these two false beliefs kept Scott from being able to receive help and strength from his spiritual guidance, and he kept making women his higher power – his source of love.
None of this was working for him, so he finally decided to try turning to his guidance for the support and strength he needed to take loving care of himself. In a session with me, he stated, “This last week I’ve been asking spirit for the strength to let go of the sexual addiction. I’m amazed at what’s happening! Not only have I been able to not use porn, but I’ve been able to not use women as well. I’m no longer hanging on to a woman whom I know I don’t want to marry just to get sex or attention from her.”
“Scott, what does it feel like in your heart when you open to your guidance for strength?” I asked.
“I feel a warmth in my heart. It feels full of love. The moment I ask for the help and the strength, the neediness and emptiness go away, and I feel full inside,” he said.
It had taken Scott quite a long time to finally decide to risk opening to his higher guidance. For a long time, spirit was something he talked about or read about, but didn’t experience. It is a big challenge for most of us to truly open to our guidance and risk knowing whether that love and strength and wisdom is actually here for us. You can believe it is, but until you open to learning with your higher guidance and ask for the help you need, it is just a belief – not a knowing.
Opening to spirit feels very risky to the wounded self. The wounded self has many reasons for not opening to guidance for love and strength and truth. Surrendering is the last thing that the wounded self wants to do, as the very basis of the wounded self is control. So, your wounded self will try to convince you that your guidance will tell you to sell everything and volunteer in Africa. Or, that your guidance is a fabrication of man, a crutch to avoid the realities of life. Or, that if you open you might discover there is nothing there, and then you will really know that you are alone in the universe and there will be no help and no hope left.
It’s vital to remember that your wounded self is the programmed part of you, filled with false beliefs. It is vital to remember that your wounded self is the voice of ignorance, not the voice of truth.
Spirit is here for you, for each of us, every moment of every day. I hope you open and begin to feel the comfort and strength that Scott is finally feeling.
Having the bravery and taking the risk of asking your spiritual guidance for help may be the most important thing you can do in your life. This is what can sustain you when you feel lonely and heartbroken over others’ unwillingness to care enough about you to help you when you truly need help. But again, you can receive help from your higher guidance only when you are showing up as a loving adult. Your guidance is always here to help you, but you can’t feel or hear your guidance from the low frequency of your wounded self. Your heart needs to be open to learning to receive the love, wisdom, strength, and guidance of your higher guidance.
I hope you join me for my 30-Day at-home Course: “Love Yourself: An Inner Bonding Experience to Heal Anxiety, Depression, Shame, Addictions and Relationships.”
You can learn so much about loving yourself and creating loving relationships from my recent books:
- And, How to Become Strong Enough to Love: Creating Loving Relationships Through the Six-Step Pathway of Inner Bonding
And we have much to offer you at our website at https:www.innerbonding.com.
I’m sending you my love and my blessings.