Why it's hard to ask for help

I've been finding myself feeling very needy lately.

Is that as uncomfortable a feeling for you as it is for me?

Never mind that I teach classes with titles like "The Art of Receiving" and confidently tell people that one of the best gifts they can give is to accept another person's help. It can still be hard to put into practice.

One of the things that makes it hard is that it can take me a while to recognize my own neediness. It feels scary and uncomfortable to admit I'm in a situation I don't feel equipped to handle, and so I pretend it's not true. At those times, it doesn't matter how many people are out there able and willing to help me: as long as I'm resisting being needy, I simply won't accept it.

There is a cost to that resistance, though, which is that the neediness starts coming out sideways, as things like impatience, defensiveness and criticism. It feels awful to me, and to the people around me. And it will keep getting worse until I finally say, "Help!" and admit I don't have things handled.

At that point, the thing that can make it difficult to receive help is just the opposite: rather than denying my neediness, I identify with it, and start wallowing in self-pity. "Save me, I can't do this" is the message I broadcast. But when people do try to save me, I resent it -- because the truth is, I don't actually want to be powerless. I don't want other people to live my life or make my decisions for me.

What I really want is to find my own answers. But sometimes I need help figuring out what they are. 

From that awareness, it becomes a lot easier to both ask for help and to receive it. It's just a matter of figuring out the right question(s): What is the situation I'm dealing with? How do I feel about it? Where am I stuck or conflicted? What do I need to know? What do I actually want? What might I do? 

I can ask these questions to myself, to God, to other people... I'm not sure it matters. What matters is my willingness to receive answers that feel good, and get the help I need, so I can be available to others when they need me.

May you, too, recognize your neediness, embrace your desires, find your answers, and be there when others need you.