Question: Dear Luise: I have a very hard time letting people help me. I also don’t often think to offer to help others with tasks they are involved in. For many people this seems so natural. I feel I am lacking in some way. Lou
Answer: Dear Lou: Good for you for noticing your discomfort and being willing to look below the surface. This kind of thing often reflects the way we were raised. Teamwork can be learned at home and prove to be a very satisfying process. However, there are many other nuances that family life promotes, as well. One is the feeling that you have to have a partner on a project to enjoy it, as in not being able to work well or happily alone. Another factor can arise from being forced to work with others when it’s far from a rewarding experience. If that is repetitious, there can be an unspoken pledge to never do that once you are on your own.
Consider also the issues of control and risk. If you don’t allow help or help others, then no one takes over and no one messes things up. Partnering can be complex. Who’s in charge…how is the task done…is it being done right…or fast enough? These questions are usually unspoken and sometimes even unconscious. You may also have been doing things alone for a long time for the simple reason that there was no one around to lend a hand. It then becomes a habit and the norm. Lots of “little kid stuff” can surface when patterns change. For some of us, there is the inner implication that if we need help, we’re failing to some degree. Or if we are asked to help, we’re being tested. If you seriously want to expand in this area of your life, venture forth gently and carefully. Do something pretty simple with someone you feel very comfortable with. Let them know you’re a neophyte at it and be willing to feel the discomfort of the skinny branch. Growth is seldom comfortable, yet as it challenges your often self-imposed limitations, it almost always expands your horizons. Decide what kind of a player you would like to be and then take it one step at a time. Inch by inch, it’s a cinch! Blessings, Luise