Asking for Help

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Asking for help is magical. Sorry to introduce that word so baldly and immediately into a nice bland little blog on help-asking. But still, “Asking for help is magical,” I say. Even thinking about asking ignites an internal process on a long-burning fuse. Asking is the spark to that fuse, the one that leads to the charge that can clear away mountains of old debris, allowing the light to reach the old lichen-crusted places and green them up with new fancy rainforest plants.

For many of us, even thinking about asking for help starts us down a winding jungle path of feelings. We have learned that being vulnerable and telling someone what’s going on inside our head and body invites responses ranging from the directly abusive: “Don’t be stupid!” to the unhelpfully rigid: “Buck up, buttercup!” to the nervously rejecting: “Uh-huh. Want some tea?” Naturally, such responses make us want to take our vulnerability, stuff it in a sack, tuck it under one arm, and stealthily drown it in the bath of our secrets.

But still, we are humans, and humans are known for our stick-to-itiveness. So we try again. Because what’s going on inside is hurtful and confusing. We kinda want to know if our thoughts and feelings are abnormal (without even knowing you, I can answer that with certainty: “Nope”), or if other people sometimes feel this way (Yup).

So we keep trying, keep asking for help. And if you’re reading this blog, wondering about asking for help, then congratulations to you for being a determined human creature, and for knowing that there’s more for you than internal confusion and hurt.

Asking for help could mean reaching out to a friend, cautiously. We poke out a little tendril, across a table at a coffee shop, amidst the conversation about kids and gardens, and just notice: how does she respond? Is that a disapproving expression? Can she relate? And if she can relate, if we see the “yes” in our friend’s eyes, then whew! The relief! Our tendril pops a wee flower-bud of deepening friendship. If not, then it scurries back across the table and curls up, waiting for the next opportunity to try.

Asking for help could mean finding a counselor, spiritual guide, or coach. “Someone objective,” we think. “Someone from the outside who can make sense of this mess.” Well, yes. Kudos to you for thinking about allowing someone else to hear your story; allowing someone else to view the ever-deeper layers of your vulnerability, and to reflect your eagerness, your tenderness, your anger, confusion, innocence, joy, darkness—back to you. That’s where the healing is. Kind eyes reflecting back to you the glorious cacophony of your human worth.

Asking for help can start right this very minute, inside the comfort and privacy of your own brain space, wherever you find yourself at this moment. You can ask yourself, your own subconscious mind, for help right now. If you don’t relate to the concept of “subconscious mind,” then you can ask Goddess, God, your guardian angel, your ancestors, the Formless Void, the Light, the cute tree in your backyard, your cat—ask one of them for help.

Try it. You don’t have to even close your eyes. If you need help, you just stop a moment. Take a little breath. And ask the whatever: “Please help me. I’m confused. I don’t know what to do. Help me know the next step.” And that’s it. You can say “thank you” to your nice good subconscious mind (guardian angel, etc.), if you feel so moved, but it’s not necessary. Now, you stop and just watch and wait. Let the underground you work on it. See what happens.

Congratulations; you just lit the fuse on your healing.