“I’ll give you all I can…”
Before I get to far into this, I feel it’s important to say just how stressful it can be for me to ask for help. Somewhere deep down, I don’t feel like I deserve help to get myself out of my own messes. I mean, things wouldn’t be quite so bad if I’d just sucked up my pride and kept my job. Or looked for a new one with more gusto. What right did I have to ask anyone for anything when I clearly couldn’t help myself?
(I should mention that Green had also quit his job, and for a span of at least a month and a half if not more, both of us were unemployed.)
I continued struggling through each day, determined to be solely responsible for digging us out of this mess, too embarrassed by my own foibles to even fully reveal the details of our situation to anyone.
In the book, Sher lays out ten steps to take toward putting your life in the direction you actually want it to go. In lesson seven, “The Idea Bank”, Sher writes:
“This is probably the simplest and most effective way of getting great ideas that I know of. All it requires is that you tell as many people as possible – friends, colleagues, people on the bus – what your wish is and what obstacle you face.”
She goes on to say that the reason this works is because when people hear someone talking about their wishes and their obstacles, they immediately go into problem-solving mode and try to come up with ways to help. Even if that person can’t help directly, they may be able to point you in the direction of someone who can.
I read this and thought about a group I’d recently joined on Facebook called DFW Bartering Artists. The group encouraged artists in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area to connect with one another, asking for things they needed in exchange for their artistic skill, or whatever they could provide. The only rule: No monetary exchanges. Bartering only.
The creator of the group set it up because she wanted a haircut. Within one week it had 500 members.
I’d spent the week of the group’s inception scouring the page looking for barters I could help with. I didn’t find any, but I did know people who might be able to help with some, and I pointed those people in the direction of the group. Watching everyone trading with one another so willingly really touched me, and reminded me just how good humanity can be.
So when I read Sher’s description of asking for ideas, I realized that I’d just watched that very concept in action.
It occurred to me that I didn’t have to ask anyone for money, or to fix my situation for me. But I could definitely ask for help with ideas, for nudges in the right direction. I began to compile a list in my head of the things that would help me out the most: a job, tubing to fill some hoop orders, but more than anything else, I needed a morale boost. I needed help remembering that the world is on my side.
I wrote up an open letter and posted it to Facebook, describing my issues with asking for help and how I could really use some good vibes and help coming up with ideas. I addressed the letter to friends, family and the Universe. I felt that if nothing else, putting it out into the world that I was finally open to help could shift things up a lot.
Within minutes, I got comments from friends sending their well-wishes, which reminded me that no matter how bad things got, I had people who cared about me. I had people tell me about places I could try applying. I had people offer to donate rolls of tubing in exchange for their own hoops or payment when I could afford it.
But the thing that made the whole endeavor worth it for me came in the form of comments from people who related to what I said about being too embarrassed or afraid to ask for help. I had people I’d never met before tell me they were inspired by my note, that they saw themselves in it and felt they could have written it themselves.
In other words, my asking for help directly helped others.
The note signified more than just a request for help, it was a declaration of upward momentum. From that point on, I would look at what I had, the things I was grateful for, and watch things get better.
A couple of days after I posted the note, I got a call back from the interview I thought I had bombed. The next day, I received an e-mail inviting me to interview at the company my friends had told me about. I got hired on at both jobs. I went from feeling convinced I may never work again to having to choose between two excellent job offers. There is no doubt in my mind that the abundance came as a direct result of changing my attitude about my situation and opening myself up to aid from the outside. They may have come otherwise, but would I have been in the right frame of mind to receive them? Would I have gone into the interviews in a bad mood and continued my unemployment streak? Very probably.
I’m now working at a company I am EXCITED about. A company that rewards its employees for a job well done, that shows its workers in innumerable ways how it values them as human beings, not numbers. It’s helping me change my attitude about employment, as well. Soon I’ll begin receiving paychecks, which will continue the upward momentum as I begin putting things back in order.
The moral of this story is: If you feel like you are stuck and you can’t get out, think about the things that you need and don’t be afraid to ask for help. There is a second step that might be even more important: Don’t be afraid to be open to receiving help. It’s the openness that allows opportunity to flow into your life. Getting rid of the resistance that’s keeping you from asking opens more doors than you might expect.
Try it. You’ll be pleasantly surprised!