Receiving Help

25 10 2010

The previous posts dealt with asking for help and how difficult that can be for someone bent on achieving self reliance.  But perhaps even more difficult (for some) can be the ability to receive help, even when it is offered freely.  There’s biblical passage that uses the metaphor of seeds being planted in the ground. If the seed falls on the rocks, they will dry up and won’t grow. But if they fall on fertile ground, they will merge with the soil and sprout into a plant of their own kind and nature.

This is what it means to receive. We have to be receptive to ideas, assistance and new habits of thought and action in order for them to take hold and have a lasting effect on our lives. If we are rigid and closed, they will not be absorbed. If we are open and nurturing, they will begin to grow and flourish. Much of the time, there is plenty of help or helping hands available, but they are rejected as fast as they appear.

This non-receptivity can play out in many forms. I know several people on trust funds who feel like they don’t deserve the money and give it away or waste it immediately, leaving nothing to show for it. Some people have difficulty receiving compliments, but are the first to compliment others.  Helpers are the worst a receiving help, often running themselves into the ground in the process. Why? Well, some (and I am included) may feel that asking for or receiving help is a sign of weakness, or that certain conditions might be placed on it, which will later be thrown back at the person, or that it will have to be repaid in full.

If you are a ‘helper’ type, ask yourself this:
What if I offer help to someone and the person rejected it?  How would that make me feel? If I don’t receive help offered by someone, how would that make them feel?

Know that helping isn’t always so much about the person being helped – it’s much about the person offering the help and the feeling of good will that comes as a result. Rejecting help form another has the effect of denying that person an opportunity to be selfless and feel good about themselves.

As for receiving help, it is not a sign of weakness – actually it takes a strong person to admit he or she cannot do everything on their own.  Nor is it something to feel guilty about or that “I’ll owe this person something in return.” The best thing that can be done when receiving assistance is to accept it with gratitude and utilize it to improve your condition.  An improved condition, or a smile on your face, will reward the person providing the help in spades.

Personally (and yes this is personal exploration I am sharing), I have trouble receiving help (or compliment, etc.) and part of the reason behind these posts is to help me improve in this and other areas. Maybe in the past, favors were offered that were later thrown back in my face.  But that doesn’t mean that’s the case now. To help me allow others to help me, I only have to focus on the joy that I get when I help another.  Who am I to deny someone else that joy?

©2010 Chris Sheridan


I am Asking for Help!

7 09 2010

Yesterday’s post outlined the necessity to ask for help, and today, I am stating that I actually need help, and, that I am asking for it! (updates to follow)

(2pm) I’m still weighing the idea of asking for financial assistance when I am trying to achieve financial self reliance! I know it’s okay to ask (see last post) but I’m still feeling nervous about it.

(3:30) I finally asked and will receive – twice! And, I’m feeling okay about it:)

Asking for Help

7 09 2010

Self reliance also means asking for help. This may sound like a paradox, and it is, but true in the sense that you would hire an instructor to teach a skill (ask for help) that would enable you to become self sufficient. The difference is in asking for a quality of help that allows you to help yourself, instead of the kind that keeps you always needing to be helped. Being able to help yourself means that you can also, if just by example, help others to help themselves.

There is a Biblical quote that goes something like this: “Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day; teach a man to fish and he will eat for a lifetime.” This metaphor outlines the difference between asking for help that will enable self reliance or help that promotes further dependence.

Being self reliant does not mean we no longer need anyone’s help. And, self reliance is never really “achieved” – it is something to be attained and then maintained. We all need help to become self reliant – help so we can better help ourselves – and thus be able to help others to help themselves…and so on.

You Have To Want It

2 08 2010

You have to want it. Plain and simple. And you have to want it more than you want to avoid it. Any shift or change, especially with things that have been long held or deep seeded, requires more than just a need and desire. It has to be vitalized emotionally with a positive resolve and clear determination to follow it all the way through.

Exercising regularly and keeping to a healhy diet are clear examples of this. All the New Years resolutions and gym memberships aren’t enough. You have to WANT to work out more than you want to avoid it, and that may mean facing a set of fears or inner conflicts that get in your way. And in the area of nutrition, it means making hard choices and accepting certain inconveniences. Organic produce is more expensive and there really are no drive thrus that serve up healthy food. But are these inconveniences worth it? Is it too much trouble to properly take care of your body now, compared to the inevitable health problems that will arise later if you don’t?

Knowledge is not enough, either. Just knowing you ‘should’ cultivate a new habit is not as powerful as really wanting to do it. Saying you want to do it is only lip service unless it’s followed with decisive action. Often those things that seem most difficult to change also are complicated with a deeply held belief system – one in which you may not be fully aware. For example, if you want to make more money, but deep inside you’ve adopted the idea that money is ‘bad’ or is the root of evil or that people with money are greedy – and since you don’t want to be bad or perceived as greedy – then you will thwart any attempt to gain financially, keeping it just out of reach. This belief may seem ridiculous to your intellect, but emotionally, it may be lurking in the shadows, ready to rise up just when progress is finally being made.

The “father of American psychology,” William James, described the difference in effectiveness between intellect and emotion. To paraphrase: When it comes down to a struggle between your rational (intellect) and passional (emotion) natures, the passional always wins.

Self reliance requires such changes in both behavior and belief. I have to want it more than I want to sustain habits of codependency or the ‘need’ to seek permission, acceptance or approval of others. Branching out on my own may require a ‘betrayal’ of my current situation, and with it, all the “slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,” to quote the Bard.

The question remains, do I want it, really want it that much that I’m able to endure such difficulties? Stay tuned…

Doing vs Being

24 07 2010

Okay, so this is not a title bout to the end between ‘doing’ and ‘being’ since these are really a pair that go together. Like the two parts of the day – light and night, and, waking and sleeping, doing and being must be in balance. Scripturally, the verse goes: “Faith without works is dead.”

Modern living is about doing more than being – even our vacations and leisure activities are busy and bombard us with sensory overload. Sometimes our sleep is so busy that we are exhausted by the time we wake up. And, even the advice to just “let it go” can keep us busy for hours.

The fact is, many of us just can’t sit still. We diagnose it in many ways but behind all this restless activity is some sort of fear that if we slow down, everything will fall apart. So much that our ‘lazyniss’ is full of anxious thoughts, fears, worries, resentments, guilt, and a hundred other things we occupy our minds with – even when our bodies are relatively still.

This uneasiness points to the fact that we are somehow unable or unwilling to accept life – and ourselves- on life’s terms, just as it is. Are our lives and selves that difficult to accept? Notions of self improvement and advancement have been taken to an extreme that we no longer accept what is -we are always trying to change it in some way. So strong is our desire to get what we don’t have, that we barely recognize what we do have, or look deeply into what is to see the truly great things that are already there.

Being does not mean to no longer do and rest on our laurels-actually it can help us do even more, but do it more efficiently. In muscle training, it is vital to both work out AND rest, so the muscles can repair themselves for the next visit to the gym. Like the stillness of the surface of a pond makes it easier to see into the water, a still mind can provide a penetrating insight that reveals much more than one that is agitated or disturbed in some way. Do and be. Be and do. Or as Frank Sinatra said, do be do be do.

Arrows and Targets

26 06 2010

Just as a seed needs the fertile soil to grow, ideas and goals need a forum or a container that will hold and nurture them. Thoughts will only stay in an ephemeral state until they are applied in a tangible form, thereby making them real-ized or made real. And the danger with unbound desires is that they get dispersed and dissapated, leading to frustration and disempowerment.

So if thoughts and ideas are like arrows, they need a clear target to be directed towards – or they miss the mark and just fly off into oblivion. Both are necessary. And, it is much better to have a target in sight before shooting aimlessly.

Many of us have arrows but no target. Skilled workers need a job to practice their trade. Teachers need a classroom of students; hammers need nails. Without a target these potentials are relatively useless, even though they themselves (arrows) are just as good and just the same as they would be with such an avenue of expression. Therefore the target – an appropriate target that matches the needs and function of the arrow – is just as important and necessary.

I have a quiver full of powerful arrows, but have found the traditional and existing targets to be inadequate for my particular needs. My lessons don’t fit in mainstream classes and my music doesn’t fit with someone else’s band. So I have to make my own targets. By using new media, distance learning and the Internet, I can make my own “classroom” or school in which to teach. Likewise, I can form my own band around my particular musical style. As I do and the pathway become more clear, I am finding relief from anxiety and uncertainty, knowing my “orphans” are getting a home, that my content now has a context…and my arrows have a target.

Self Reliance and Music

22 06 2010

From an earlier post (April 14 & 19) I described myself as a solo musician and wrote about playing a show with no back up or rhythm section. Now I have taken the songs I played and have begun recording them. Again, I am doing this by myself and I still have every intention of playing gigs with other players, but in the meantime, I can still take the songs to the next level.

Although I play bass like a guitar player (instead of a bass player!) and my drum programming skills are rudimentary at best (every pun intended), I am able to do what I can to further develop the songs on my own.

And this is part of self reliance. Even if I can’t take something all the way all by myself, there are stages and steps which I can accomplish solo. As long as I am doing all that I can do, I’m sure the rest (which I can’t do alone) will surly follow. And the more developed and completed my part of the work becomes, the easier it will be to attract and bring in the other players. This way, they will rely on my strength as I will be better able to provide something stable and concrete to offer.