LIFE WITH CYNTHIA: “Independence is a lonely and dark place to live, and without help no one is safe”
“We can’t all do great things. But we can do small things with a lot of love. – Mother Teresa
“I can do things that you cannot, you can do things that I cannot; together we can do great things. – Mother Teresa
Ask for help … ? How often do you walk into a store and ask the staff to ask, “Can I help you?” The way we read their intent and the way they ask this question speaks volumes. After working in retail for a while, I have been able to act on the other side of this proverbial question with mixed results. Managing the staff to say it, managing customer expectations, and leaving our own luggage at the door when arriving for work all played a role. What does it mean when we ask “Can I help you?” Asking and receiving help is something that can be sensitive in our culture and society today.
I walk into a clothing store loaded with packages from successful purchases from other stores and when I walk into that store the customer service person says, “Can I help you?” And I say, “that would be amazing, can you keep these packages for me?” and proceed to hand over all my luggage to the unsuspecting person. What kind of response do you think I would get? Or I walk into a grocery store and approach the clerk, with nothing in my hand, and as they say, “Can I help you?” “I said,” Yes, I saw in the Canadian Tire brochure that they have tires for sale. How do you think they would react? As they shift gears, get ready to react, you never know what kind of reaction is going to come. This is the challenge of offering general “can I help” statements without being willing to help unconditionally! The open-ended “can I help” question comes with expectations on both sides, conditions on both sides, from two perspectives. This is where the challenges often arise.
In today’s world of asking for help and for those offering help, it has become very complicated. In this world of independence, there is a fear of needing help. Needing help has become seen as self-indulgent or unnecessary. So many people judge the help requested on their own terms. In everyday life, the offer of help can come with parameters and limits as the needs have become so complex. The request for help can often go far beyond the capacity of the caregiver. The needs may be deeper than expected. I watched my grandson while he wanted my go-cup. It was empty of the coffee I was drinking, and he had watched me drink it. He wanted help removing the cover. I helped him do it. Then he wanted it again and I helped with that. Intermittently, intermittently, then he went crazy and I don’t know why… there was a component missing that I couldn’t understand. I couldn’t help him anymore because I didn’t know what he needed.
There was toast in the toaster and I asked my son-in-law if he wanted me to help by getting them. Now in the seventh or eighth week on crutches his adjustment to life needing help has settled down somewhat, however, realizing that he needs to push himself a bit is balanced. by a request for help. He realizes that throwing things on the floor in a temper tantrum like the one-year-old is not right for him. He realizes that he needs help and that he must also push himself to be independent. Her routine was drastically altered by this injury and her appreciation for her family and her interdependence is paramount.
The flippant question we use: “Can I help you?” Could be replaced with “how can I help you?” To offer the chance that there are times, like my grandson’s temper tantrum, when nothing I can do will help or when the demand is not something in our power, when the help is not an option. Asking for help can be straightforward, and it can also be layered and complex. Helping refugees is not a simple task, nor is helping the homeless. Watching those who need help and taking on the task can be crippling, or it can be liberating. Watching a child struggle with a set of keys to unlock a door requires patience, which allows them to learn, while standing back watching an elder with painful arthritis struggle to unlock the door requires a knock of the knot. different hand.
Helping others comes in part from our own motivation, and we need to ask ourselves “why” we are helping? Our intention and reasons to help set the tone for the recipient to feel good about the issue. Take the example of my request to a store clerk to keep my packages. If this store clerk really wants me to have the best possible experience in his store, he will offer me help and support on what to do with the packages while I shop. They will find a way to help that is good for both of them.
Independence is overrated and seen as a strength in our society today, which frowns anyone looking for help. It hinders the mind when we offer conditional help to others. The absence of an open heart closes the door to how we can truly help. If helping outweighs your values or is moving with your beliefs, then take a step back and help by guiding yourself where you can find help. Wanting something in return or offering help with conditions results in mistrust and misalignment. Wanting to help someone change their beliefs is not helpful. Too many people ask, “What’s in it for me?” Next to the question how can I help. When we freely help and assess how we can truly help, the world is a better place. Not everyone can meet all needs.
Independence is a lonely and dark place to live, and without help no one is safe. Interdependence is a place of life where community and social structure thrive. To be interdependent is to live in harmony as one “universe”, a song with many different parts that help and support each other in harmony. There is an old saying: “No tree has branches so crazy that they fight with each other.” Yet how often do we judge someone who asks for help and create war between the branches. An ancient text also tells us that it is more blessed to give than to receive, but I ask, how can one give if no one is ready to receive or ask for help? When we help and ask for help with a pure heart, everyone is blessed.
Cynthia Breadner is a Bereavement Specialist and Bereavement Counselor, Soul Care Worker and provides specialist care in Integrated Spiritual Psychotherapy with particular focus as a Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Practitioner and Traumatic Incident Resolution Facilitator. She volunteers at a hospice, works as an LTC chaplain, and is a death doula, assisting with end-of-life care for the client and their family. She is the mother of the #DanCynAdventures duo and practices fitness, health and wellness. She is available remotely through safe and secure video connections, if you have any questions contact her today! CynthiaBreadner@gmail.com rupturestibah.com