Learning to ask for help

When I turned 7, I got my first pair of regular shoes. I had spent half my life, three-and-a-half years, in a cast, or various braces, and custom engineered shoes. That was the treatment for Perthes hip, a childhood disease. Cured, I didn’t need them anymore.

During some of that time I had to ask for help to go to the bathroom, and to do many other things. To get around I scooted across the floor, often on my stomach, dragging my legs behind me. I came to resent having to ask for help, becoming fiercely independent.

As an adult I spent a lot of time contemplating. A favorite subject was “If you’re so smart, open a Coke bottle without touching it.” In my early 50s a friend noticed me staring at a Coke bottle sitting in front of me. She asked me what I was doing. I told her I was trying to open it. She grabbed the bottle and twisted off the cap, saying “You mean like that?” I was speechless, thrown for a loop. My friend could see my consternation.

Several weeks later I realized that I had in fact accomplished what I was after, opening the bottle without touching it. I relayed that to my friend, to which she retorted “All you had to do was ask for help.”

What a revelation! I could accomplish more by asking for help, instead of trying to do it all by myself.

As we age it’s especially true. Actions that were once easy alone come to be only accomplished with help, with the assistance of another human being. After a life of independence this can be a hard lesson to learn.

The choice we are faced with is to stop doing something or to ask for help to get it done. Instead of losing desirable results, we can still get them, but it takes getting out of our comfort-zone and asking for help.

What have you given up doing that you could do with a little help?