We’re suffering from a common allergy, but it’s not from anything we eat or touch. Instead, this allergy is triggered by simplest of phrases, “Do you need any help?”
We have created a dichotomy for ourselves where we resist the circumstances of being seen to be helped though we do actually want and need the help. My theory for our predicament is that our allergy has formed as a result of the lack of empowering language we use in our discourse concerning our fellow citizens struggling to live well.
Our subconscious default is to look at situations through a ‘them and us’ light. When it comes to understanding people in worse-off situations to own own, it’s not hard for us to conclude (though unspoken) that those needing help are somehow different to us – perhaps less capable to live well; perhaps a bit weak?
The washout of all this is that when we are in a position to be helped ourselves we resist, begrudgingly accept or even deny help. Why? Because we have created a story where to live well means to live independent of others – we don’t want to be seen as unable to cut it on our own; that’s how weak people are.
But the truth, as I sure we all actually know, is that no one can cut it own their own.
Helping each other out is our only means of survival - in a physical sense as well as in a spiritual/emotional sense. Moreover, being able to live well ourselves means that we need to be both the helper and the helped. One grows our empathy and the other our humility.
Both of these character attributes are what make the human species set apart from all other animals. The fact we can care and support others with no connection to us – by act of will – is actually an amazing thing. It proves we are much greater than our base instinct; we can choose action for the betterment of the whole. That’s a tremendous power for each of us to have.
However, both empathy and humility seem to be pretty low on the list of attributes that we aspire to on a daily basis. Probably because they lead to putting other first and in a world of scarcity – that’s a scary thought.
What if we miss out because we enabled someone else to get there first?
Here’s my challenge if you’re up for it:
Deliberately put yourself into a position where you have no choice but ask someone to help you. Now taking note of the vulnerability you feel as a result (if you don’t, then pick something more challenging to be helped with), go out of your way to pay forward helping a few others.
Enjoy the experience? (Does anyone?)
If many of us struggle to welcome help, what can you do in aid of this?