As we jumped into the ‘get ready for school race,’ I could see that my five-year-old son was struggling with the zipper of his jacket. At first, I let him work through it a bit. I wanted to give him the opportunity to figure it out for himself before I rushed in to help.
With each missed attempt, I could see the frustration mounting. He began to add force to the zipper, so I stepped in calmly and asked, “How can I help?”
He turned away and insisted he do it all on his own. He’s at the age of independence. It’s a right of passage and a beautiful growth phase, and I respect that.
However, I don’t want him to grow so independent that he believes the lie that he has to do it all on his own all the time, or worse, that receiving help makes him weak or unsuccessful.
More recently, I’ve learned the importance of being able to receive help when it is offered and when I need it, and I didn’t want to miss the chance to share this wisdom with him.
As I watched, I could see that to him, asking for help, and admitting he needs it, meant sacrificing his independence. If he couldn’t do it all on his own, he wasn’t who he thought he was. He was less than, weak, or unable. Obviously, this isn’t the case at all but it is what he was believing.
So, I explained that sometimes we need help and that doesn’t mean we aren’t smart enough or strong enough to figure it out on our own, it simply means that we are humans and humans need other humans, and that’s not a bad thing. It can actually be a really good thing if we can get past our own thoughts and feelings about what receiving help means.
As a wellness coach, helping is a very big part of what I do. We all know that veggies are healthy and exercise is important but we usually need help with the accountability, support, and the tools to actually do the things we know we need to do. That’s where I come in.
Receiving help for a weight loss goal, or a performance-based goal is wise because not only will you fast track your results, but you’ll also be inviting a cheering squad into your life, and not everyone currently has that.
“How can I help?” are words I too have struggled with this past year. But they are also words I am grateful for. As a fitness business owner during a pandemic, it hasn’t been an easy year, and that’s a massive understatement.
Owning a business during a normal year isn’t easy. Throw the challenges of multiple lockdowns, keeping up with ever-changing regulations and having clients not ready to come back just yet, has been entirely the opposite of easy.
But, here’s what is amazing – community! We’ve had staff ask to volunteer instead of be paid as we rebuilt. We’ve had clients offer their expertise for equipment maintenance. We’ve had members fill in while we were short staffed. We’ve had neighbors help us with things around our home as we’ve been stretched in too many different directions and working hard to balance it all.
We’ve had help from our children’s school, our church community and so many of our friends and family and I am beyond grateful because sometimes, we need help.
I used to think that help meant I wasn’t able, capable, or that I was weak. Now I see that receiving help when it is offered means that there are people who have been impacted by the help I have offered them in the past and they simply wish to return the favour. They are happy to be able to do it and that really is a beautiful thing.
When you need help, and decide to receive it rather than be independent or strong enough to figure it all out on your own, there is a wonderful blessing that comes with it, and that is the opportunity to learn just who you are surrounded by. Community is a powerful thing and we don’t always get to see just how wonderful our community is, until they have the opportunity to show us.
My advice to my son, myself and to you is this: sometimes you need help and rather than resisting it, open your heart to it because help is good. It doesn’t mean you suck or that you aren’t successful or that you aren’t capable.
What it means is that you are human and though you may be in a different season than you’re used to being in, it will make you so much more grateful for the community around you and give them an opportunity to show you love.
When you receive the help, it allows you to focus on what you do best and share your gifts in a bigger way and this allows the reciprocation cycle to continue to flow.
After many words of wisdom from his mother, my five-year-old, independent boy finally listened to what I had to say. He walked over to me and without words, let me help him do up his jacket. When the zipper reached the top, I looked deep into his eyes and I thanked him for letting me love him this way and he smiled knowing that no matter how independent he gets, his mom will always be there to say, “how can I help?”
This is a monthly opinion piece; Alison Brown is a local business owner, mother and published author.