And not in a great way.
It’s been a rollercoaster – so emotional and bringing with it, many challenges.
This journey of personal development is not for the faint of heart, I can tell you. Oh – and neither is the entrepreneurial journey. But still, I fight on. I know it will all be worth it in the end.
There have been a number of different challenges these last few weeks – and in the midst of all the drama, I was forced to do something that I very rarely do.
I asked for help.
I called an old friend and I asked him for help – very specific help.
I felt ashamed, I felt weak, I felt vulnerable, I felt scared.
I cried so hard, I thought I might never stop.
I felt very humbled.
My friend responded so positively – in fact, in a way that I could never have anticipated.
And once I had been able to pull myself together, to acknowledge the generosity and kindness of his unconditional support, it got me to wondering…. WHY?
Why is it that the simple act of asking for help could bring me to my knees?
What is it about asking for help that made me feel so much shame?
Was it the asking? Or was it the request?
Am I the only woman in the world who feels this way?
With the benefit of a LOT of journaling, I was able to unlock the truth of where this behaviour originated for me and how ‘going it alone’ and NOT asking for help (in fact not really asking for anything) – looks in my life today.
How being the ‘strong, independent woman’ has served me, and where it may perhaps have blocked the way to allowing true friendships to grow and evolve at a much deeper level.
But after this recent and very humbling experience, I accept that this is an area that needs some work. And I have decided to take the advice of a dear friend – Emily, from NYC.
During a very long lunch at the end of last year, we discussed this very topic and Emily told me about a project she had been involved in at her University where students were invited to test out a new behaviour every day. To ask.
Every single day, each student committed to asking for 3 things. 2 fairly small ‘asks’ and one much larger.
In asking every day – and working through the challenge – the students were able to eliminate any ‘icky’ feelings (eg shame, fear) around the specific action of asking … and in fact, were able to bring in some pretty amazing results.
Asking 3 times a day feels like a bit too much of a challenge for me to start out – but I do accept that this is a good time for me to start developing my muscles in this area, to ASK so often that there is no drama, no shame, no fear – and most importantly, no need to be attached to the outcome.
I’ve checked out a few articles on-line, and I am reassured that I am not alone. For many women, asking for help is a real challenge. Some (myself included) believe that they will be seen as weak. In their careers, many believe that it will be seen as a sign that they can’t cope. Some even believe that others will find out that they are not really good enough. A fear of being told NO is another reason many women don’t ask for help – this likely to stem from a fear of rejection.
In its simplest form, if we don’t ask, then we won’t be rejected.
We like to be in control and if we don’t feel that we are, we may start to experience insecurity, stress and fear. But the danger of not letting go – or sharing the load – is that we run ourselves ragged by trying to do it all.
When I think back to my time in Corporate, particularly during the time I made the switch from Marketing to Supply Chain, I often worked 70-80 hours per week. But still, I would rather have worked myself to death than admit that I needed help. I would have hated to think anyone held the view that I couldn’t cope. So, I said YES to everything that came my way. Whether it fell into my area of responsibility or not.
But ladies, you must know this – saying NO more, or asking for help – it is not a sign of weakness. In fact, being able to recognise when you are becoming overloaded is a strength, not a weakness. You are a woman, a human being, not a machine. Saying YES to everyone that gets passed over to you could seriously damage your health.
And so why don’t you join me in the challenge. To ASK for something every day. It doesn’t matter how big or how small, the key thing is to get comfortable in the asking and not to be attached to the outcome.
So, whether you are asking someone to open a window for you, asking for more milk in your coffee, or asking a colleague to take the reins on an important project – you get to decide.
Let me know in the comments below, what you will ask for this week. Practice daily – let’s see what this will bring.
x Until next week, sending you love x