How to let people help you

How to let people help you

You are a high achieving, smart, successful woman. You’re holding a million pieces of life together, juggling twenty balls and keeping them all airborne. You can spill your coffee down your shirt and walk into a meeting with your CEO 20 minutes later. You can simultaneously make dinner, teach fourth grade math, and listen to the emotional drama of a 13-year-old. You can leap tall buildings in a single bound. Possibly even walk on water.

In other words – You’ve got this.

But you don’t have to.

I can’t tell you the thousands upon thousands of times that someone offered me help and I responded with, “I’m good.”

I remember one trip to Houston, Texas when I first started my career coordinating leadership development programs for senior leaders. Thirty-five of us flew  from Minneapolis to Houston and then got on a bus to our hotel. Everyone had luggage, but I also had all the course materials for the week. More than one person offered me help, but instead of saying, “Thanks, that would be great” and handing them a box, I chose to sling my backpack over my shoulders, balance one box on top of my roller bag and drag it behind me, and situate another box on my hip with my arm slung over the top. My fingers barely reached the bottom.

It would have been so much easier to accept help. I didn’t even have to ask for it! It was offered directly to me. But my lifelong MO has been “I’ve got it” so that was my response. I remember taking a certain amount of pride in walking into that hotel, laden down with all my supplies and making it through the door without dropping anything. It gave me confidence to know that I always had it together.

This is a tiny example, but when a million of these tiny examples add up, they create layers of unnecessary stress and anxiety. It’s not just about accepting help with suitcases and boxes. It’s working late nights to complete a project that was really too much to take on in the first place. It’s bearing the weight of your husband’s illness in silence because you don’t want to be a burden on anyone. It’s crying in your car while sitting in the garage at home and then wiping your tears and smiling as you walk in the door.

I see two major reasons we don’t accept (let alone ask for!) help. First, we don’t want to be a burden. We’re afraid that we’re going to put a major inconvenience on someone. But here’s the thing – people LIKE to help. They ENJOY being needed. So flip your mindset and see that you are giving someone the opportunity to help you.

Second, accepting help is admitting that we can’t do it all. That is confronting. And scary. And vulnerable. This one often takes some deeper work. You need to get behind what’s driving you to feel like you always have to have it all together so that you can create a new story for yourself. A story that makes life easier and more enjoyable. This work is hard, but it’s worth it. This is the work that can really change your life.

Heather Whelpley is a coach and speaker that works with high achieving women that want to stop overwhelm and get back their joy while still having a successful career. Click here to learn more about coaching.

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