Ask For Help, Part II

Click here for Part I


“I’ll give you all I can…”
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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.

I’d been reading a lot, and one of the books I’d been picking up for a few pages a night was Live the Life You Love by Barbara Sher.

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.


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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.

It did.

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.


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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!

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Ask For Help, Part I


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Yesterday marked the first day at my new job.

If you know me, you know that work and Jess do not mix. As a general rule, I spend most of my time trying to figure out how to avoid having a job.

It’s not that I dislike working. I actually spend the first several months of my new jobs enjoying the work, trying my hardest, and making an effort to impress my bosses. When it becomes apparent, however, that my best efforts receive very little in the way of praise or acknowledgement of my value, my morale begins to drop. When, the first time I try to call in sick, I hear terseness and disapproval on the other end of the phone, I begin to realize just how much my employers actually value me and my health. Read: Very little. When the icy weather comes, the stuff that I am on occasion unwilling to drive through, and I call to ask whether I can stay home, the voice on the other line tells me they’d really prefer I try to make it in, which shows me that they do not care about my fears or concerns, or that they even acknowledge the increased risk involved in coming in to work on that day.

In short, the longer I work for a company, the less important I feel as a human being, and thus, the less effort I am willing to put into my work. It gets so bad that waking up every morning becomes a momentous task, and the drive to work and subsequent eight hours behind a desk feel like handing over my soul for the right to have a roof over my head.

There have been times when I’ve happily traded that roof for my soul again.


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For a long time, I’ve thought that perhaps there’s something wrong with me. I mean, so many people do this every day for their entire lives, until they’ve earned enough to retire and live their own lives. Was I wrong to think there had to be a better option? That people deserve more than to chain their hearts to a grey cubicle for half of their lives?

I ranted quite a bit about this on my LiveJournal, frequently and with much the same anguish over the years. I’m pretty sure people became aggravated with me, especially those who viewed hating your job as one of the facts of life, those who told me I should consider myself lucky to even have a job. I began to feel guilty about my opinions on work, but it didn’t stop me from looking for something better.

In May, I tried quitting cold turkey. Again. That decision cost me my annual trek to North Carolina for the Hoop Path Retreat, but it’s hard for me to regret it because of how much I enjoyed having my life to myself. Still, the money ran out and eventually I knew I needed to get a new job.

The search seemed more awful this time around than it ever had. It felt like any job I could possibly find would be a means to a paycheck and nothing more. I didn’t want to do it again, and thus my motivation flagged. Severely.

Things got bad. And then things started to feel bad. And then, when each day seemed like it would be spent wondering, “What’s going to go wrong today?”, I decided I had to get serious about looking.

It’s not easy to find work when the last thing you want to do is actively seek out the thing you willingly traded in for poverty, but I did my best. I received a nice kick in the pants from a friend who told me her office was hiring, so I forced myself out of bed for a 9 AM interview (quite the feat considering I’d been waking up at 1 PM).

If you’d like to know how to fail an interview entirely, just ask me about that particular morning. When you’re battling extreme exhaustion from only two and a half hours of sleep, and you’re not even entirely sure you want this job in the first place, answering questions from a well-meaning interviewer becomes about as easy as picking up anvils with your teeth.


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I knew I had blown it. I knew there was no way they would call me back.

I spent some time later with friends, telling them about my botched interview and listening to them talk about their new jobs. They told me about how the company they worked for put the morale and well-being of their employees above everything else, and my ears perked up.

“Are they still hiring?” I asked.

“Yes, they’re about to start a new training session, actually.”

I printed out my resume right there and asked them to take it in.

But when I didn’t hear back from them either, I began to fear that perhaps I’d waited too long this time, perhaps I’d quit one job too many, and that I might have become un-hirable.

When our home situation grew all the more desperate, I knew something had to give.

 

I asked for help.