How Helping Helps

It’s interesting, if you can detach yourself a little bit, to consider how the notion of having to be helped is somehow shaming. I have felt this myself (you can read a post about accepting help here and a post about what this means for concepts of manhood here), so I can relate to it; knowing with your head that there is nothing to be feared in having to be helped every so often is very different to the experience of it.

However, like anxiety, which is constantly painted in negative terms, there are reasons why being in need, being in need of help, which admittedly, in itself is not very nice, doesn’t have to be seen as an automatically Bad Thing or a Sign of Failure. There is more to ‘help’ than meets the eye.

  • To be a helper is empowering; for children, for example, to help the teacher makes someone important.
  • To be helped, or to ask for help, means that you have reached out, and made a connection with someone else.
  • To help means stepping into an adult role; one where you take on responsibility and decision making.
  • To be helped is to recognise that we aren’t perfect, we have an understanding of our limitations (this is good for not getting too puffed up with unrealistic pride or, even more bluntly, too up ourselves).
  • To help someone else – or a lot of someone elses – is to make a contribution.
  • To be helped means that you courageously give the gift of trust.
  • To help is to notice someone other than yourself.
  • To be helped is to need someone other than yourself.

When I look at this list – and I have stopped here to avoid the danger of merely repeating myself – I can’t quite understand why it should be so shameful. Yes, there is a cost to giving help, to aid; for me, it is a price worth paying.

Otherwise, what else would we be but helpless? To be without help, would be a tragedy.

5 thoughts on “How Helping Helps

  1. I wonder if it is different in less individualistic cultures. In the West we tend to focus on independence as a positive and celebrate individual achievement, even when those individuals are helped by a whole team (e.g. an elite athlete has coach, nutritionist, physio, etc).

  2. Why is actually getting help, so difficult? Is it based on attitude, outward appearances, how you ask or is it simply who asks? Actually asking for help, for me, is such a major step as you have to admit you can’t manage independently and yes, it makes you feel like a failure. So maybe those people with a different outlook, those who believe they have an entitlement to help and aren’t afraid or embarrassed to ask and keep asking have the key?

    1. Maybe. I wonder, are they women? Do they enjoy the sensation of people running around after them? Are they conditioned to it? I read a really interesting thing on the manipulative nature of ‘white women’s tears’ once, and it really made me think.

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