Tanya Younce, M.Ed., LPCC


May I Help You?

When I went to college and became increasingly independent, I held a pretty firm belief that I was then supposed to be completely self-sufficient with all the responsibilities in my life.  By the time I graduated, I’d already lined up a job in downtown D.C., secured an apartment with some roommates, had my own car, and never had to rely on my parents’ help for money or other types of assistance.  Good for me, right?

One day, though, my mom and I were out shopping for dresses for some special occasion, and when it came time to purchase the dress I’d picked out, my mom tried to pay for it.  Startled, I whipped out my credit card instead and said “No, no…I have this, Mom” and we went back and forth like that for a little while until she finally put her hand on top of mine, looked at me with warm, pleading eyes and said “Will you please let me do this for you?”  

It kinda shook me inside!

A little light shined on a new awareness that allowing others to do things for you didn’t necessarily mean you were dependent on them or that you owed them anything in return, but that they simply wanted to care for you.  I allowed her to pay for it, she felt good about caring for her daughter, and I felt loved in a new, more adult way.

I also remember my first professional massage.  I was lying face-down on the table, under warm and comfy  sheets and blankets, and the masseuse asked me “So do you know how to receive a massage?”  What a weird question, I thought.  But she explained that it was difficult for some clients to fully surrender their bodies to her touch, her manipulation, her repositioning, etc.  This is a good example of how people go about allowing others to care for them.  Can you surrender your story, your emotions, your guard, your beliefs….just for a moment….to connect and give permission to be loved, listened to, cared for, assisted, and comforted?
This American culture, in my opinion, has made us self-sufficient in too many ways.  We’ve isolated ourselves from the care and help of others — not necessarily to keep them out, but to continue proving to ourselves “I can do it!”  “I’ll take care of it!”  “No, no…don’t bother, I can handle it!”  

You don’t earn any prizes for holding the entire weight of life in your arms.

In my blog last year called The Healing Power of Connection, I wrote about this similar subject.  How can we shift our perspective on the need for others to care for us so that we don’t look at it as any kind of failure or sign of weakness on our part? Or see it as burdening others?  The simple fact of the matter is that when we decline someone’s help, we actually rob them of a chance to be part of our lives, our healing, our stories, and even our joys! 

People are out there waiting to give you their time and attention and compassion.  Instead of seeing this as your inability to handle everything in your life (and let me tell you a secret….YOU CAN’T HANDLE EVERYTHING, no matter how much you try to believe it!), see it as giving certain people the chance to do something nice for you.  Many of your fears about doing this — like the fact that they’ll pity you, or use the information against you one day, or will betray your trust, etc — turn out to be false assumptions anyway.  I’m not saying you won’t need to be careful with who you allow in, but erring on the side of letting others in and possibly getting burned, is better than never letting anyone in at all.  You don’t earn any prizes for holding the entire weight of life in your arms.

“May I help you?  Please?  Can I care for you?  Let me do this for you.  I love you and want to connect.”  Sometimes we need to just take that as face value, smile and say “Ok, thank you.  That’s so nice of you!”

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