A Little Help From Our Friends
In the confines of our own minds, it’s easy to convince ourselves that we’re all alone when times get tough and that whatever we’re going through is unique to us. We tell ourselves that it’s our problem and nobody can or will help us. While it’s great to be self-sufficient and independent, we can go too far with this mentality. Sometimes, we are like a lost driver who’s not willing to admit that he’s taken a wrong turn, and rather than stopping to ask for directions we keep going on our own and get further off the path. Sometimes we know that we’re lost but we don’t want to let others know that we’re not perfect, so we brave it on our own to avoid looking bad. As hard as this may be to hear, some of us get so accustomed to the feeling of being lost that we don’t take opportunities to find our way even when they are right in front of us. In other words, we can get addicted to drama and to suffering such that it becomes a part of our identity and we end up unconsciously holding on to it. Whether it’s a pride thing, a denial thing or an unconscious pattern, the solution lies in seeking the support that we need and asking for help.
As an artist, it’s easy to buy into the idea that the challenges I face are “special” or unique to my craft. The concept of “writer’s block” is a perfect example. Many artists would suggest that this is a specific obstacle encountered by those walking the creative path at times when inspiration is nowhere to be found. Upon closer inspection, I have learned that the real issues at play are simply procrastination and resistance to starting new projects. Similarly, a lack of motivation (or the so-called inspiration) is usually the product of fear and this can be remedied by taking action towards our vision or goal even when we don’t feel like it. The truth is that these are challenges that everyone face, not just artists. In this way, I’ve been surprised and relieved to discover on numerous occasions that the things I struggle with in various areas of my life are not just common, they’re normal and part of being human!
Of course, there is an endless supply of self-help resources available that can provide the support we’re seeking. “The Artist’s Way” by Julia Cameron has been a dear companion to me on my creative and spiritual journey, as has The Daily Love. There is however a very different and perhaps more immediate kind of comfort that comes from the people in my life. When we are willing to open up and share what we’re going through, the answers and the encouragement we are looking for are often right there waiting for us. If we ask for help, the Uni-verse will deliver it in the form of a willing listener, a surprise phone call, a knock at our door or a timely piece of advice.
Sometimes we may need to be more proactive and even selective about where we turn for support. It helps to know who our greatest allies are and that can vary depending on the issue at hand. We may have certain friends who are faithfully optimistic and who can lend a dose of positivity and encouragement when we’re down on ourselves. We may have that one friend who is a particularly great listener and who always has the best advice when it comes to relationships. We may know someone who has the very experience we are lacking and it’s simply a matter of believing that we are worthy of their help. Sometimes, there’s nothing like the special kind of love that our family members can give us. Or perhaps the particular problem at hand requires the ears of someone who we’re not as close to, who can offer a more objective perspective.
Regardless of the challenge, it takes as much, if not more courage as it does to face it on our own, to allow ourselves to be vulnerable and let someone else in. Whether we’re feeling alone, discouraged, stuck or simply lost, one of the best ways we can help ourselves is to ask for help. It’s also worth knowing that the person who is offering support or encouragement often benefits as greatly as the one receiving it, in the same way that student and teacher are interchangeable.
While it’s great to be strong and to be able to deal with our challenges on our own, there are times when we need to be reminded that we’re not alone and that help is there for us if we are willing to ask for it.
So what problem or challenge have you been dealing with all by yourself that might be helped by turning to someone else? Who are your greatest allies? Who can you turn to for support with whatever challenge you’re currently facing?
We’re all in this life together and we can get by with a little help from our friends ;)
Written for The Daily Love (Oct. 15th, 2011)