“We cannot give help when we cannot ask for help. … When you judge yourself for asking for help, you are, by default, always judging when you offer help. ” Dr. Brene’ Brown. Willow Creek Global Leadership Summit, 2013.
I’ve been wrestling with this statement for more than a month. I don’t want it to be true. I love to help. I don’t love to ask for help. I feel guilty asking for help, that I am unworthily taking someone’s time. I feel inadequate asking for help, as if I should be able to figure it out myself.
But I don’t want to be guilty of judging people who are asking for help. I tell people all the time, “just ask us for help.” When I taught speech, I told my students, “Come and ask me for help.” I’m happy to help.
You are too.
But as Brene’ points out, when I am self-critical about asking for help, it means that I feel more adequate, more worthy, more important when I am asked for help. Which is a form of judging. Or, perhaps, that by helping I’m serving a form of penance.
What’s the cost of not being able to ask for help? I want to be careful here, but I think we will have trouble accepting help from God. The good news of the Kingdom is that we need help approaching God and that God is that help.
I wonder if we would be better off if we tried this:
- Rather than feeling guilty for asking for help, I’m guilty so I ask for help.
- Rather than feeling ashamed for asking, I’m ashamed so I ask for help to see myself as God does.
- Rather than feeling inadequate, I acknowledge I’m inadequate for the task by myself so I ask for help.
So, what are you thinking? Help me understand.