I’m putting The Art of Asking by Amanda Palmer on my reading list (just as soon as I buy it). Not only because I have seen her TED talk or because the foreword is by Brené Brown author of I Thought It Was Just Me, But It Isn’t. But because I get it.
I get how we open up parts of our hearts and minds when we ask for help. I have been there. I have found myself at the end of my rope with nowhere to turn but to those around me. I have found help in the most unlikely places and been reminded that there is a common humanity joining us all together.
But it is hard. The shame of self-condemnation is so strong; the voice inside my head offering up only one perspective. One where asking for help is admitting the worst about myself. To that angry inner voice, there is little defense as it boldly declares:
“You should be able to figure this out. You should help yourself…aren’t you smart enough, good enough, strong enough? Is this what independence looks like? You’re a fool and a failure. You suck and you’re stupid. And who can help anyway? Nobody! Nobody cares. Nobody understands. You’re all alone. You will suck…forever. You will be in this dark, shitty, lonely place…forever.”
And on it goes beating at the parts of you that are already weak and terrified and sad. The result being you stay stuck exactly where you are…forever!
While there is a violent attack on the self, there is another way of looking at this same thing. One that I learned only after I decided I wasn’t going to listen to the hateful self-talk and remain where I was. Asking for help offers a strong vibrant thread of self-compassion that says:
“I am going through something difficult. I am not alone in this problem…or this world. I can find a solution or at the very least, someone who understand. Because I let myself admit where I am weak or lacking or afraid, I can find the help I need.”
That alone removes the sting of shame and extends the hand of care and kindness back to ourselves. From that one act, we find strength instead of weakness; the resilience born out of courage and vulnerability. And of the asking we have done of others? That may indeed provide answers and solutions but we have already take the biggest step to making things better.Asking for help offers what is that much harder to come by: hope. In the face of the despair created by failure, fear, and feeling lost and alone…what could be better?