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Did You Grow Up Seeing Adults Ask Others for Help?

boundaries exhaustion mindset Nov 13, 2021
Statues by Inge Finnsson of Pixabay
Growing up, I didn’t see adults asking for help. Ok, yes, asking me to do dishes and chores, but not asking for help on a bigger level. I didn’t see my parents asking each other for help. I didn’t see them asking other people for help. They didn’t see therapists or other Mental Health Providers (I think they rarely went to the doctor frankly, because who would miss work for that [was their thought]). Asking for help was not ok. You went to work, you pushed, you didn’t talk about failure, you hustled to demonstrate worth, and lived in scarcity.
To be fair, both of my parents grew up as the oldest children, and both were essentially kicked out in one sense or another. They didn’t ask for help because THEY had grown up thinking that help was not available, that help was needy, that help was weak. I could go on.
I have struggled a lot over my adult years with the idea of help. I’ve generally waited until I was on the verge of collapse after pushing and pushing and beating myself up to “figure it out” and “get it done.” It’s harder to find help when you are in this place. And its WAY harder to accept that “help” doesn’t mean someone removes all of the hard stuff in your life, but that to really be “helped,” you need to change your thinking, rewire your brain, and then look at the choices you are making.
And there are many ways that we get weird about asking for help. We might reach for a book to help us, but then don’t put into place any of the advice. We might send a message to a Therapist or Coach about making an appointment, and then NOT respond when they reply (TBH, I didn’t know that people did this, but now I know that they absolutely do this). We might tell our spouse that we need help finding time to exercise, but we don’t discuss it any further, and then resent them for not handing us the time (we asked for it right?).
My point is, there are (at least) 2 actual steps to the getting help process. One is to ask for the help, and the other is to act and accept the help. The first step takes courage and honesty; acknowledging that a problem exists and that you need assistance figuring out or implementing a solution. The second step takes something else. Commitment. Commitment to spending time, money, or energy (possibly emotional energy, like setting boundaries) in the solution. It’s a whole other level of responsibility to yourself, commitment to yourself, to whatever change needs to happen.
When we take the first step, we make a big move. But without the commitment to the solution (reading the book and doing the work it describes; making the appointment; considering what you gain when you use money to fix the problem, instead of waiting to figure out how to do it yourself, finding the time on the schedule for the exercise and telling your spouse how they can help), you won’t fix the problem. And the emotional space when you know there is a problem, and have a sense of the solution, but you aren’t committing to the solution (or at least trying the solution)? That emotional space is failure, disappointment, victimhood.
So, if you too have experienced this space, between asking for help, and committing to the solution, its time to start acting. Usually, this is as simple as dedicating some time on your calendar (and sticking too it unless someone is bleeding), scheduling an appointment, or giving someone clear information (“I would like to start exercising in the morning before the kids wake up. I need you to help me if anyone wakes up before their alarm. I will be finished at 6 AM, and ready to help get them up and ready after that.”). This builds up your “getting help” muscle and normalizes you making time for yourself and whatever problem you are facing.
That there, is some powerful self-care. Problem->ask for help->commit to solution->problem solved.

Hi There!

I'm Megan. I'm a Physician and a Life Coach and a Mom. I created this blog to help other Physicians and Physician-Moms learn more about why they feel exhausted, burned-out and overwhelmed, and how to start to make changes. I hope that you enjoy what you read, and that it helps you along your journey. And hey, if you want to talk about coaching with me, I'm here for that too! I offer a free 1:1 call to see if we are a good fit. Click the button below to register today.

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