January 13, 2010

A little give and take

When my friend moved into his home, he didn't have a lawnmower since it was his first house. He didn't want to be "the guy who borrows stuff", so his lawn grew knee-high before he got around to getting his own lawnmower.

Of course when his neighbor's lawnmower broke, my friend thought nothing of loaning his out. It is probably partly a guy-pride thing to not ask for help, but to be happy to lend a hand when asked. We can be kind of pinheaded at times, and I am no exception.

In the past, I would not only resist asking for help, I would most often refuse it when it was offered. It was not only male pride, but a need to be self-reliant that I took to extremes. This ranged from the physical (no, no, I can get the washer and dryer myself), to the emotional (no, everything is fine), to the odd (I've cut my own hair for the last 15 years). In my head, this self-reliance somehow made me stronger and ready to handle any situation.

One of the biggest things I had to get over this year was myself. I accepted a lot of help and even found myself reaching out. I know, "poor baby had to put up with help from people". Well, pinheaded or not, it was still a difficult mental barrier to knock down - that I couldn't solve my problems on my own.

I didn't accept all comers (still a man after all), but more than I was originally comfortable with. It initially made me feel a little weak, but that feeling soon passed. Of course what it really made me was human. We all need help now and then, and we should accept it as readily as we offer it to others.

When someone asks, "Are you doing OK? Do you have everything you need?", I may give a more honest answer these days. I don't share my life story to every casual inquiry, and I would still much rather offer help than accept it, but I fess up when I need a hand these days. Self-reliance and pride are important, but not at the price of happiness and a life lived honestly. And ironically, I feel stronger, not weaker, for having asked for the help.

2 comments:

Lauren Taylor Haft said...

I do the same thing.
I don't let people help because I don't want to feel as though there is an obligation from one side or the other.
Inevitably, you accept help, and then the next time that person needs YOUR help, you feel as though you HAVE to say yes, no matter what the inconvenience. I HATE obligation. It may sound selfish, but it's the feeling of helplessness that I can't handle. If I have to say "No, I'm sorry, I can't be there for you today" I can't stop thinking about whether or not they're resentful for taking time out of their lives to have helped me out...
It's a messed up way of thinking, so yeah, I'm kinda working on that too...

Me said...

great...really great...