Until we can receive with an open heart, we are never really giving with an open heart. When we attach judgment to receiving help, we knowingly or unknowingly attach judgement to giving help. ~ Brene Brown
A few years ago I was involved in a mindfulness community and a speaker said something along the lines of Brene Brown's quote above. I remember this struck me because we were in a room full of professional helpers. To think that if we judged ourselves for needing help, we were also judging others made me a little uncomfortable.
If you think about it though, it's that discomfort that makes asking for help so much more difficult than giving it. Asking for help requires vulnerability. We have to put ourselves out there and risk rejection.
Offering help is easy. It makes us feel good to help others feel good. It helps us to connect without feeling vulnerable because we are not putting our own stuff out on the line. It also may make us feel powerful, but is it at the expense of the power of the other?
As Brene Brown points out, vulnerability is uncomfortable, but it is a crucial element in being what she calls "whole hearted."
So who should I ask for help?
Well Brene shares some types of people it would be wise to avoid sharing your vulnerability with: Someone who hears your story and feels shame for you; Someone who responds with sympathy ("I feel sorry for you") rather than empathy ("I've been there"); Someone who looks to you to be a pillar of worthiness and perfection; Someone who is so uncomfortable with vulnerability he/she scolds you; Someone who thinks you must be exaggerating; Someone who always tries to one-up you ("you think that's bad...").
Instead, share your story with someone who loves you because of your vulnerability not despite it and can respond with empathy. This is the type of person who can be trusted to help to the best of their ability. You may only have one or two such people in your life, but if you give them the chance to help you it will deepen your relationship even further.