Receiving Support

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catsHelping each other is all part of the giving and receiving that makes up good relationships.

Happy August! I just got back from the pool and love the feeling of diving into that cold water after getting nice and warm under the sun. It’s so refreshing. As I lay there reading one of my new favorite books I suddenly had all these ideas I wanted to share and write down. It’s amazing what comes when we relax and allow ourselves to receive with ease.

And that is this month’s theme! Receiving support — which starts with noticing how hard it is to ask for help or say “Yes” when someone offers.

One of my closest girlfriends recently shared a very personal example of this. She has a young baby and one night while her husband was traveling for work, she suddenly heard her son struggling to breathe. He sounded as though he was choking and wheezing, trying desperately to get oxygen.

She rushed into his room, tried everything she had learned about infant CPR (did a clean sweep of the throat, turned him over and firmly patted his back, etc.). When that didn’t work, she called 911. As she describes it, by the time the paramedics arrived, her son was sitting up smiling and acting as though nothing had happened. Luckily, he turned out to be just fine. It was a very scary experience for her, as you can probably imagine, and my heart went out to her as she shared it with me. The next time we spoke,about a week later, she told me she realized that she continued to put herself down whenever she told the story, saying “There I was, a crazy mom, calling 911” because she felt embarrassed, even though she knew she did the right thing for her family and would do it again.

It can feel very vulnerable to ask for help. That’s why so many of us don’t do it. Deep down, many of us have a belief that it’s “weak” to ask for help, or that there is something wrong with us if we make a request of others.
Even if our conscious, logical mind says “That’s silly, of course I would call 911 if my son were choking,” our subconscious mind may say “How embarrassing that eleven paramedics rushed to your door and your son was fine. You wasted their time. Who are you to ask for help?”

We shame and criticize ourselves if we can’t do it on our own. And yet we know that makes no sense. The example I just shared is a fairly dramatic one, but we do this all the time in big and small ways. For example, have you ever had someone offer to help you carry a grocery bag or put your suitcase in an overhead bin and you replied with “No thanks, I’m fine,” when it might have been nice to have a helping hand?

Have you ever put in long hours on a project at work to the point of exhaustion when you know you could have asked someone else to pitch in, but that little voice in your head said “They will think you can’t accomplish anything if you ask them to do that”?

Or has someone tried to treat you to dinner or buy you something and you replied with “Oh no, that’s too nice,” or “Don’t worry about it, we can split the check”?

We all do this. And here’s the thing about being so strong all the time — it’s exhausting! And we diminish others in the process. Believe it or not, the person who wants to carry your groceries or work on that project will receive a nice boost of endorphins and self-esteem from having helped a fellow human being and serving a purpose.

Try putting yourself on the other side of it. Have you ever performed a kind act for a stranger? Carried a bag, helped someone cross the street? (If you’re drawing a blank, I invite you to try it out today.) Or have you helped someone at work meet a tight deadline?

How did you feel afterwards? Pretty darn good, right?! It feels awesome to help someone out.

Every time you say “No thanks” to someone else, you are denying them that joy.

For those of you who find that asking for support is not easy, here are Five Tips to Become a Master of Receiving Assistance:

1. Give more!
Guess what? It’s a lot easier to receive from others if we’ve been giving ourselves. By doing a random generous act for someone else, you will start to open up to the possibility of receiving yourself. You will understand in an experiential way what it feels like to be on the giving end and how it is such a gift. This will cultivate empathy so that when you’re on the receiving end, you don’t feel guilty or weak or undeserving; rather, you experience a nice sense of give and take. If you go out of your way to help someone at work with their project, you may feel the scales are more balanced the next time you find yourself wanting to ask for help.

2. Do it for them, not yourself
The next time someone is trying to offer you support, think of the benefit to THEM and say “Yes.”If you think it’s “selfish” to receive, focus on how it will make them feel better to give and suddenly, receiving is a selfless act. You are bestowing a gift on the person who is taking care of you in that moment.If you can’t say yes for yourself, say it for the other person.

3. Practice saying “Yes” to small things
For those of us who are used to being independent and have our whole identity wrapped up in how we’re tough and strong (who, me?), it can be helpful to take baby steps with this process. Start by saying “Yes” to something small — whether it’s a friend treating you to a cup of coffee or someone holding the door open for you. As you strengthen your receiving muscles with small things, you will suddenly notice it becomes easier to say yes to bigger things, like getting help with that project at work

4. Think of someone you love
The voice in our head that says “You don’t deserve that” or “Who are you to ask for help?” is often an internalized version of someone from our childhood — a teacher, parent or some other adult who told us not to “be selfish.” Chances are, it wasn’t just one person but many, as this problem is endemic in our society. Regardless of where it comes from, I often find that one of the most effective ways to counteract that little voice in my head is to replace it with someone else — someone I love deeply who is saying the opposite.

For example, if I’m banging my head against the wall trying to learn about Internet marketing (or any project at work), and I want to enlist support, it can help me to picture my daughter and how I want to be in a happy, patient place when I’m with her. Then I link that picture to the knowledge that my getting support with this work project will actually help me be the kind of mother I want to be because I will feel more relaxed and joyful and have more time to spend with her.

Try imagining someone you love — an ailing parent, a spouse or significant other, a best friend or your child. The next time you are questioning whether you “deserve” to get help, pretend you are doing it for THEM. This is a slightly different version of #2 above and can be even more powerful. Instead of doing it for the person who wants to help you, you’re doing it for someone you love because you know it will make you a more whole, complete and loving person.

5. Practice, practice, practice
As with any behavior-changing shift, this takes practice. If you read this and are inspired, make it a weekly, if not daily practice to say “Yes” when people offer their assistance or support. Make a commitment to say “Yes,thank you” to at least three people in the next week. As I said, it can be as small as allowing them to treat you to a drink.

The good news is that when you start to say “Yes” to the small things, the Universe replies “Oh, so you like receiving? We’ll give you more!” And then, even BIGGER things come in — the trick is to KEEP SAYING YES.
It’s true… me! If you want to learn more on these Universal principles, check out my Manifestation Course HERE.

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