Give up. Be silent. Withdraw. Depend only on your own strength, reach, influence. Think you’re no good, not good enough. Believe the lie that you’re powerless, that you’re stuck, that you’ll never get anywhere.
What TO do:
Get a group of people around you, people you can trust, and ask them for help.
Oh, I know in this day and age, in this self-sufficient, self-dependent culture of ours, it’s not a popular concept to ask for help. We’ve been told, advised, warned, convinced that we must do it all on our own, that the life we have is ours to live alone, that it’s up to us to make something of ourselves. Look out for number 1. No one else is going to do it for you.
True enough. Partly. But what do you do when you find yourself in a slump? When you find yourself in a situation that you feel overwhelming and significantly challenging? When you feel like you’ve reached your personal limit? (Notice I’m using the word “when”, not “if”. I’ve lived long enough to know that it will happen. And when it does, you’re going to need some help. IF you don’t want to stay there and become bitter, that is. I’ve done that, too.)
One thing I’ve discovered along this journey called life is that it’s not meant to be lived alone. Granted, there are varying degrees of aloneness, and being an introvert myself I can attest to the need for some people to have times of aloneness. And certainly, in the end, the decisions we make are specifically ours to carry out via our own will and ability. But generally speaking, I’ve come to believe that life is meant to be shared. And by shared I mean in a reciprocal manner – you give some, you take some.
I know I find it so much easier to give than take. And I also know that’s my pride speaking. It makes me feel so much better to help someone else, rather than thinking I need someone else to help me. When I help someone else I look good. When I need help, I don’t look so good.
Just this past week I found my pride challenged, big time. I was at the apex of a situation that had me feeling completely stuck, completely powerless, and completely tired of it all. My ability to carry on seemed non-existent. I was truly on the verge of giving up. Actually, months had already gone by so I thought I’d settled on that decision. But all that time there was a tiny voice inside me, nagging: Don’t give up. Get up. Find your balance. Carry on.
I knew I was at the point where I couldn’t do it myself anymore. I’d tried doing it on my own for too long. I’d gotten up and carried on so many times already, with my own strength, but considering how that was failing it obviously wasn’t doing me much good. So I plugged my ears to the little voice and decided to ignore it.
But it wouldn’t stop, no matter how hard I tried to shut it out. So I finally, and very reluctantly, acknowledged my need for help. I had to listen to the voice, but knew I couldn’t do it alone. So, with tears in my eyes, I contacted a small group of friends who were close enough to me and my situation that I knew they could provide valuable insights and suggestions. And, true to their form, they did. It gave me the boost I needed to get up and find my balance again. Of course, the logistics of the carrying on part is the part that’s still up to me, myself. So I took it a step further and asked them to keep me accountable; accountable to carrying on, to moving forward, to progressing. Accountability is a scary creature, yes. But defeat is a deadly beast.
The problem with asking for help sometimes, for me anyway, is that I often will regret it. Not usually because the advice or support was lacking, but because I almost immediately feel the weight of thinking I should be able to handle things on my own. That my problems are my problems and I shouldn’t involve others. So as if telling me to get off it, only days after I’d put out my call for help, fellow Toronto MG/YA author Cheryl Rainfield was putting out a call of her own. Cheryl was one of the friends I contacted last week, and I know enough about Cheryl to know that she feels the same way I do about reaching out and asking for help: It’s neither an appealing nor easy thing to do. Especially when you’re talking about the magnitude of the issues she’s dealt with. Cheryl struggles on a daily basis with her past, and her present. But she’s also learning the value and reward of sharing life. She’s beginning to experience the joys of being able to help others while also being helped and supported herself. That’s a great balance. The give and take of life in community with others.
We all have things we struggle with, things that make our lives complicated, things that may make us feel like giving up, being silent, or withdrawing. Please don’t succumb to the deadly beast of defeat. Rather, surround yourself with a community of trusted friends who will help you find your legs so you can stand again and carry on. And who will even let you use them for support along the way.