Bearing the weight of the world on your shoulders is an exhausting task, a task that wipes out and tears down even the strongest people with the greatest willpower and fiercest constitution.
We live in a culture that praises a schedule designed to overwhelm.
At work, home, and play we wipe ourselves out, drinking from empty cups, feeling stressed out, fatigued, cranky, and sad.
We know it’s killing us, yet why do we keep trying so hard to keep up with the very things we’re likely to complain about to our closest friends?
I recently had an amazingly valuable conversation with a new client in my massage therapy office about the very real physical tensions she is feeling arising from the equally real mental overwhelm and stress she is also experiencing.
She wondered if the two go hand-in-hand.
Her desire to take more robust care of herself was so strong she couldn’t ignore it, however, the status quo of doing everything and being everyone in all things is in direct competition with her inner guidance system.
What are we supposed to do in this situation?
The reality of the matter is we are a people who thrive in supportive, caring communities.
We need mercy.
Because of our tremendous need, we are also uniquely positioned to be supportive, caring people who recognize the same need in others and offer assistance to the people around us.
However, because our current cultural norms and standards praise busyness, overwhelm, and stress, most people lack the ability to even ask for help when in need due to the subconscious scripts informing us that “asking for help” is the ultimate sign of weakness.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
We find ourselves in a Catch-22: we thrive in supportive communities and environments, yet we never enter into or participate with them because of the lie we are fed.
In our fear of vulnerability, we isolate ourselves.
Isolation further breeds more overwhelm and stress causing us to lose perspective, eroding our ability to problem solve, creating fatigue and more stress, with the final outcome of actually causing bodily breakdown.
Anyone who has ever survived through the very real experience of Burnout knows the truth in this “chase your tail” situation.
Radical Care Concept Challenge: Support
Everyone needs help from time to time.
This week’s challenge is about becoming aware of your need and the need of others.
Too often we are afraid to ask for help, or we are increasingly distracted by the noisiness around us, often on our screens a few inches from our faces.
Awareness is something that needs to be built into your daily schedule before it becomes a regular practice and a part of your character.
Please don’t get hard on yourself if you decide to participate in this R2C Challenge; opening your eyes and heart is not something that happens consistently overnight.
If You Need Help: Ask for it!
This is going to feel scary. Do it anyway.
What do you need help with that you legitimately have difficulty shouldering right now?
Caveat: Notice how the most “unhelpful” people are also the same people who are quick to judge? It might show up as gossiping or providing an opinion on a matter when no one asked for it. Being a nosey busybody is also a sign. Be cautious about asking that person for help.
Seek support from someone whose heart you can trust.
Asking a Sandpaper Person for their help is a surefire way to erode your confidence in your ability to ask for support.
Ask If You Can Offer Help:
If you don’t feel like you can ask for help, or if you genuinely don’t have anything you need help with, build awareness by opening your eyes to see the need for mercy around you.
Ask around and fill in the blanks with what you’re physically and emotionally capable of aiding.
PS: this might feel scary too. Do it anyway.
The more you are able to recognize and be aware of peoples’ needs, you’ll be better equipped to recognize it within yourself.
Caveat: Don’t be the Judgmental Helper.
You don’t get to decide the parameters or worthiness of a person’s need.
The Asker defines support. Barring any legal or physical dangers, being sure to actively maintain your own integrity and honoring your personal values, step in appropriately.
Don’t take away a person’s agency to help themself.
Be cautious about completely taking the responsibility on yourself. People in need are rarely 3 year olds with zero emotional problem-solving skills.
Sometimes, the best help you can give is sitting with this person, shoulder-to-shoulder, with your mouth shut.
Nothing is more empathetic then sitting with someone in need as they navigate life.
They are capable and they will thrive in supportive community, so be supportive community.
Well-intentioned, truthful advice incorrectly applied with insensitivity can destroy people.
If You’ve Been Asked for Help:
Do it. Do not pass go…do not collect $200.
Please-please-please don’t drop the ball.
When someone asks you for help, it takes tremendous courage for that person to bare their vulnerabilities to you.
If you give them the old, “yeah, I’ll do it later” brush off, or only half listen because you are distracted by your own perspectives and numbing techniques, you will effectively erode that person’s trust in you.
By not listening, nor following through, you are reinforcing the cultural context about how you shouldn’t really ask for help.
Bottom Line: You get to decide if you’re going to be the cure, or a part of the disease.
No person is an island. We can’t do it alone. Honor your need for help.
Help those in need with eyes, arms, and heart open wide.
We are not made to walk through life, struggling alone, in life’s hardships.
As the old saying goes, “Many hands make light work”; get creative and see where your hands, your good heart, and your words can speak life into someone else’s experience.
We are a people in need and we have incredible capacity to extend compassion in like measure.
You just may save someone’s life.
And that, my Friend, is a beautiful thing.