"The bottom line is that we need each other. And not just the civilized, proper, convenient kind of need. Not one of us gets through this life without expressing desperate, messy, and uncivilized need. The kind we are reminded of when we come face-to-face with someone who is in a deep struggle."
~ Rising Strong
I'm currently reading Rising Strong by Brene Brown and BOY is it a goodie! I've been reading it on and off for the last two months or so - I tend to get really into a book for the first half and then life gets busy and it gets pushed on to my bedside table for a few weeks and then something comes along in my personal life to launch the book back into my field of consciousness again. When I re-picked up this book again yesterday I thought - YES! Why did I wait so long to keep reading this? This is ground-breaking!
With books like Rising Strong and Daring Greatly we need time in between chapters or paragraphs to process. Some of the ideas presented poke me to directly look at my own behaviours and habits and reactions and thus we need time to unravel and maybe journal or simply sit with what that stirs up within us.
The quote above is from a chapter which really struck a chord with me - "Easy Mark: Rumbling with need, connection, judgement, self-worth, privilege, and asking for help". In this chapter, Brene talks openly and honestly about her own personal stories with such vulnerability that, as a reader, you want to take that leap of honesty about yourself also - it's magic :)
She mentions that under times of stress as a way of managing anxiety we all have patterned ways that we will go to- some of us over-function and others under-function.
"Over-functioners tend to move quickly to advise, rescue, take over, micromanage, and basically get in other people's business rather than looking inward. Under-functioners tend to get less competent under stress- they invite others to take over and often become the focus of worry and concern. Many of these behaviours are learned and line up with the roles we play in our families. It's not uncommon for firstborns to be over-functioners."
Although there have been times in my life where I have experienced both over-functioning and under-functioning as a response to managing stress and anxiety, I'd say I'm mostly on the over-functioning team (yay for being firstborn!) And there are definitely times in my life where I have taken on the co-parent role with my sibling and parents!
When moments of stress and anxiety hit us like a tonne of bricks what is your instinctual response? Do you immediately grab a pen and paper and write a list of all the tasks you think can be done to restore "order"? Do you run inside your home and sit there until someone rescues you from the pain?
Both ways of functioning in the face of anxiety and fear are forms of armour to protect us. If we stay busy we won't need to feel the pain because we are 'helping' to make it better. If we don't do anything and just lean on everyone around us to fix everything, we won't need to feel the pain either.
As Brene talks about, we need to view both of these with vulnerability as opposed to judgement. If we judge ourselves or someone else judges us for having this immediate response then all that will happen is that we retreat further into our holding patterns. Having vulnerability in times of doubt and fear and pain requires IMMENSE courage and strength. To sit in the moment with the people around you and open up honestly about what has unfolded and the uncertainty of the situation ahead - that's mammoth! And then to ask for help from those people around you - that's even more scary! But it's also liberating and freeing and an INCREDIBLE asset to learn.
One of keys Brene mentions and that really struck me as something we don't value enough is the capacity to RECEIVE that help. Until I met my husband I wasn't very good at receiving help, in fact, even now I still have to check myself! Two years ago I thought I would be able to plan a whole wedding from the other side of the country all by myself and come out smiling - HAH! Nice try Allyce! Fast forward to a month out from the big day - I'm having a complete emotional breakdown trying to be in twenty places at once and still adding more tasks to my never-ending to-do list. And I'm extremely organised person - I didn't leave anything to last minute, so I thought I could handle it all by being prepared. But I forgot one important thing - to ask for help and more importantly to be willing to RECEIVE that help. Because there wasn't a shortage of helpers - I had so many gorgeous friends and family contacting me asking how they could help every single week! But I thought that if I asked them I would be inconveniencing them and knowing they were busy in their own lives I didn't want to burden them with my worries and tasks. Because it was MY wedding - so shouldn't I be able to handle all the stresses myself?
"We don't have to do it all alone.
We were never meant to."
When I had that breakdown moment I stopped and took a good look at what I was attempting and what I was creating. And with advice and prompting from my gorgeous mother - I reached out and asked for help. I made myself open to receiving that help from my family and friends and I trusted in them and their abilities. And it was the BEST thing I could have done. Having all of them so intimately involved meant that I created a lot of beautiful memories and experiences but also that the actual day itself went off without a single hitch! I didn't have to worry or stress on the day because I knew I was supported by everyone around me. It was so scary for me to admit to them that I didn't have it all together and that I didn't have all the answers but there is no way the end result could have been so wonderful if I had simply forced my way through alone with my pen and to-do list as my only buddies.
"In a culture of scarcity and perfectionism, asking for help can be shaming if we're not raised to understand how help is human and foundational to connection. We can encourage our children to ask for help; however; if they don't see that behaviour, they will instead attach value to never needing help. We also send strong messages to the people around us, including our children, friends, and employees, when they ask for help, and in return, we treat them differently - as if they are now less reliable, competent, or productive.
We accept our dependance as babies, and ultimately, with varying levels of resistance, we accept help as we get to the end of our lives. But in the middle of our lives, we mistakenly fall prey to the myth that successful people are those who help rather than need, and broken people need rather than help. Given enough resources, we can even pay for help and create the mirage that we are completely self-sufficient. But the truth is that no amount of money, influence, resources, or determination will change our physical, emotional, and spiritual dependance on others. Not at the beginning of our lives, not in the messy middle, and not at the end."
If you haven't already, I wholeheartedly recommend buying a copy of Brene Brown's Daring Greatly and Rising Strong. My copies have scribble marks and turned down pages all over them :)
If we can take the leap into vulnerability and show our true selves to those we trust and love in our lives, then we can learn that important capacity to both give and receive help. I truly believe it makes both all the more sweeter - once we allow ourselves to be truly loved and appreciated and supported, then our capacity to do the same for others increases tenfold. And maybe we have to keep reminding ourselves of this over and over again for the duration of our life but if we have people in our lives who can help us recognise those moments and remain supportive then it's way easier than going it alone!
So jump in. It's scary to take the first leap but it's beautiful on the other side :)
- My name is Allyce and this is my lease on life! I live a plant based life full of music, yoga, laughter, sunshine, and chocolate!My job as a performer takes me to many wonderful places around the world and I'm on the journey to share my experiences and findings with all of you as I travel as a plant-based yummy yogi. Let's create the life we truly want to live - one full of awareness, acceptance, responsibility, love, and gratitude.
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