There is a grocery item that I buy on a regular basis. It’s in a glass jar and it’s on the top shelf. Now if it were a box of cereal, I could easily give it a little poke and it would likely sway and bounce off the shelf and into my hands. I’m less than eager to try with a glass jar. My strategy instead is to wait for either a taller patron or staff person to come by. I ask politely for their help, thank them kindly, and go about my shopping.
Pop quiz: What does this choice mean about me? Am I a failure because I’ve only grown to be 5’1″? Am I dependent on others? Is my lack of height shameful? Or am a resourceful thinker using the attributes of another to help me solve a problem that is difficult to manage on my own?
My silly (although very real!) example is intended to show that asking for help often makes good sense. In this scenario it would be quite ridiculous for me to go buy a ladder or climb up the shelving just so I could do it on my own. The point is, sometimes it doesn’t make any sense to do it on our own.
What I think is really great about being a modern human is that there are so many of us able to do so many different things. I do think we need a sense of self-sufficiency in some aspects of life, but we are social creatures. We are meant to make it together. With so many others, shouldn’t we be REALLY MAKING IT?!
It is actually a skill to realize that something you want or need to accomplish or understand requires the skills, talents, insights and feedback of other humans. We have so many resources available to us yet, I often witness people believing that because they can’t see the solution, it must not exist. This is problematic. If you don’t think there is a solution, another perspective, or a different philosophy, you won’t seek others to help you find it.
It’s this kind of thinking that stunts our emotional development. We get so stuck in our own feelings, thoughts, and beliefs that we mistake them as the absolute truth – the only way things can be. Feelings, thoughts, and beliefs can be changed, shaped, and challenged over the course of our lives. That’s healthy. Stagnating is not.
I believe that my primary job as a therapist is to help people identify options for their lives around their feelings, thoughts, and actions that they didn’t previously recognize. I believe that the clients who seek me out are skilled at recognizing a need for fresh ways of looking at their situation when the old ways stop working. This is brave, not weak. It is effective and smart, not shameful and foolish.
Are there things in your life that require a new perspective? What things are better done on your own?