This little cardboard sign hangs on my wall. I bought it a few years ago from a panhandler on the Avenue. I've always loved it, I loved that he was so open about asking for help. It reminds me to do the same.

This little cardboard sign hangs on my wall. I bought it a few years ago from a panhandler on the Avenue. I've always loved it, I loved that he was so open about asking for help. It reminds me to do the same.

In the last few years I’ve made it more of a practice to let people help me. It took some serious effort at first because it is in stark contrast to the typical adulting that we are conditioned to strive for. The idea that I am independent and can do everything I need to do, on my own, had been internalized as marker of arrival or accomplishment but in fact I’ve found the opposite to be true.

When I stopped pretending to have everything and not need anyone I realized how sweet it really is to share. How comforting it is to be assisted and cared for and looked after. Which of course lead to the natural progression of gaining some insight into how natural and delightful it is to do that for others as well.

So here is the thing about help…

1.      It’s a natural extension and experience of love to let others help you. It’s not a sign of weakness but actually great strength to be able to receive love from others. I was intent on walking home from a show one evening when my friend and her boyfriend insisted upon driving me. I didn’t want to be a bother or put them out I guess but they insisted. So when they dropped me off and waited until I was safely in my house before pulling way I realized how nice it felt to be cared for and looked after, even in this small way. So yes, when someone gives me their old coffee maker, drives me home or shows up unexpectedly when they know I’ve been in the house for too long, I feel truly loved and welcome their company and assistance.

2.      People want to be needed. I was in a meditation workshop in which we had to pick a stranger and share a positive experience we had recently had. To my surprise the elderly woman that I partnered with told me that her husband had been a terrible accident and was in rehab and that it was so wonderful because after decades of marriage, for the very first time, he needed her and let her help him. We all appreciate being needed and valued so by letting someone else help you, you are also filling a need for them.

3.      Becoming more open to the joy of receiving help from others naturally leads to wanting and offering assistance to others for the sheer joy of doing so without any expectation of reciprocation. It gets the whole ball of gratitude and giving rolling in the natural way it was intended to occur. Not based on transactional and “fair or even” exchanges but just the natural flow and order of things. The sweet spot so to speak.

4.      Not helping is sometimes helpful. There is a difference between helping and taking over control. People do also need to know they can help themselves but that when they need it, your help is there for them if and when they are open to it.

 

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