I don’t need help.
And — as I learned just recently — not only will I not seek out support, apparently I’ll even silently resent you when you don’t help me….
You see, it was Monday night and I was exhausted. I had spent the day looking after my two little boys. I’d been awake since 4am rocking my 1 yr old back to sleep. I’d spent the day at the Science Center because my 3 yr old loves the Space Shuttle. Neither boy would take their nap that day so it was 4pm, I was running on empty and I emailed the guys in my Men’s Group:
“I’m not coming tonight, as Monique’s away and I can’t get childcare.”
A reply shoots back to me over email:
“Disappointing Rich. You are a powerful man – getting childcare for a scheduled meeting is within your power. And you could easily be home by 11.”
I was angry. I knew better than to reply by email when I was mad. But I needed to get this one out of my system. I hit reply and typed furiously:
“You know what would be nice? It would be you checking in first to see how I’m doing. It would be you saying, It sounds like you might be having a hard time, Rich. It would be you checking in with me first before letting me know how much I’ve disappointed you or that you think I’m lacking power.”
And then I really let rip:
“It feels like I’ve been there so much for each of you over the past 6 years. I’ve coached most of you, I’ve supported most of you. I’ve even made powerful introductions to support some of you with your business or your family.
The past 6 months have been the toughest 6 months of my life. I’m physically and emotionally worn out in a way I’ve never felt before.
And I have no idea how to ask for support. But right now I’m feeling pretty angry.”
Well, the reason I’m in this group is that these guys see through my stories. And we have a ruthless commitment to speak our truth to one another.
An hour later, I received this reply:
“Awesome. This is perfect. How can we support you in an extraordinary way, Rich?
It’s great to see how incredibly deep this pattern of yours is. You go through “the toughest 6 months of your life” and NONE of your closest friends have any idea. Zero. That’s how deeply hidden you are.
When you meet your friends – its about service (powerful), helping others (strong) and not revealing.
Why don’t you reveal what’s going on with you – why the need to appear so strong?
You wrote “I’m exhausted and can’t find baby-sitting” – when you’re going through the toughest time of your life. That’s a big gap.
You must be really hurt to list things you’ve done for the group. I am sorry you feel hurt.”
He’s so right.
I’m really present to the resentment in me at not receiving support. And yet I have no damn clue how to ask for it. Asking for, and receiving help seems so weak. My whole mission is to show up as powerful and to be there for others. So I actively keep it out.
Here’s the irony, of course: I’m in the middle of writing my second book about the qualities of high achievers that hold them back the most. Chapter 8 begins:
“YOU DON’T ‘NEED’ HELP.
Well, you don’t. People are astounded by what you create. You are one of the highest- achieving people you know. And you definitely don’t need support. In fact, you actively keep it out. You work hard to keep it out.
Now just imagine for a moment, what could be possible if you became available to support. Not because you ‘need’ it. You don’t. But just because it’s available. Not because help would make you weak. But because it would be a sign of strength from a powerful leader…”
Ouch, once more.
I’d been taking to me, all along…
“Friendship is more than just being there for your friends. Being a great friend means that you let your friends be there for you.”
— Shane Parrish
I don’t need help – Part 2
Saturday was such a challenging day for me. I watched myself as I put off and put off reaching out to my friends for support.
I could see my mind working, in the moment.
It took me over an hour to write a simple text to ask for help.
I have this story deep down of: I can handle it… Seeking help will be weakness… And why would you want to help me anyway…
But I was wrung out. Physically. Emotionally.
I had nothing left.
And I had a one year old and a three year old to take care of as Monique was away for the entire day. And I’d been up since 5.30am and now the boys wouldn’t take their naps and I had no clue what else to do with them and the day was barely half over…
And, for probably the first time ever, I had to get past those old, old stories of mine that I don’t need help.
So, finally, I did it.
I sent a text to some of my closest friends asking for help.
And then I watched a second story showing up as I waited for their replies.
I don’t ask for help because if I ask and you don’t give it, I’ll feel rejected…
When some of them couldn’t help me—it didn’t matter that they were in Hawaii or had other commitments—I told myself that I didn’t matter to them. And I wished I hadn’t even asked.
Well, one of my friends was in town and he didn’t hesitate to come over to be with me and my boys. And it was only once he arrived that I witnessed yet another story of mine that I didn’t even know I had.
This story goes… If you do show up, I’ll need to take care of you and that will be even more tiring. So it’s better not ask.
My friend, Steve came over and I so appreciated his company. He had such fun with my little boys, who loved him.
But I was in an unusual spot because I was simply too tired to ‘take care of him’ in the way I’d normally do.
I enjoyed hanging out with him but I was too tired to do anything other than enjoy being with him. I didn’t have the energy to ask the kind of questions I usually would, to find out about him and his life and how I could support him…
It may not make sense but I saw in the moment how that is where my attention usually goes. I need to take care of YOU…
No wonder I’m exhausted hanging out with people if that’s the energy that I bring to all my interactions. No wonder I like to be alone. No wonder I don’t ask for help.