Asking for help. This topic has risen to the top of my social media feed more often than not, in a multitude of ways. What first comes to mind is the number of ads, businesses and/or non-profits posting that they need sales, students, volunteers, donors, etc. Next, I think of all the articles supporting a growing trend in suicides among younger and younger folks, and friends posting how much they care and are willing to listen. Hotlines and info about how to get help are shared. Then, I see the posts of friends asking for prayers, support, and good thoughts to come their way. Some ask for money and some just ask,- “what are y’all doing on a Saturday night?”
We live in a new era -one that has desensitized us to posting about our life, our family and our community, but truth be told, how many of us are asking for interaction in those posts? How many of us are crying out for attention, desiring the feeling of connectedness that we no longer have through person-to-person interaction? Most likely, A LOT of us.
I recently listened to an audio book entitled “The Art of Asking” by Amanda Palmer. I have to start by saying that I loved this book. Her writing style is real, raw, and intricate. She weaves stories of human connection and really gets at the heart, desire, and fear associated with such connected-ness, or lack thereof. I found myself drawn in and simply astonished at her ability to describe feelings I know I’ve experienced before, but never in my mind have I been able to describe.
Her work history is completely off-center compared to what most would think of as “work.” And yet, her ability to dig deeply, asking questions and to interact and in order to understand the human heart is, well, invaluable. I highly recommend this book. Not a reader? Check out her Ted talk from February 2013.
So, why do I bring up this book? Because in the book Palmer describes her lack of fear of asking. Through asking, she built a tight-knit community of fans, friends and followers that have not only enveloped her over the years, but have also helped her, loved her, and consistently followed her art, music, and writing through many twists and turns. Her secret? It’s not a secret. It’s an ability to be present, to ask for help, to be true to your word, to spend time connecting with people and listening to their stories. It sounds simple, but if it were, she wouldn’t have tons of stories of her fans sharing with her all the hurts and longings for connection in their lives.
Asking is something born out of being in community with others - out of being in connection. It comes from a place of trust and vulnerability. But what we see more and more, with the age of the internet, is that people are more wired to connect, but more disconnected than they have ever been. So what keeps us from asking? I can’t answer this for you, but for me, here’s some of my favorite lines that go through my head when I consider asking:
I don’t want to bother them
I don’t think they have the time
I’m afraid they won’t be interested
I can just do it faster myself
I’m afraid it will cost too much
I don’t want to be a burden
They will think I’m incompetent
I’m sure I could think of more, too. At the end of the day, fear is the underlying reason for most of those lines running through my head. What I didn’t think about though, and it hit me as this book opened up, is that just because one of those may be true at one moment, it doesn’t mean it’s true each time. It also doesn’t mean you should stop asking or that you shouldn’t ask someone else - FIND YOUR PERSON(s)! We tend to get a little too hung up on rejection when truly it gives us a chance to ASK AGAIN. And it also gives us an opportunity to connect with someone who would truly LOVE to help or participate, or pay, or volunteer, or give - YOU NAME IT! Human connection relies not only on those asking, but on those who desire to give, to support, and to help. I know, because I’m one of those people. I love helping others.
Fear is something I have battled on-and-off for (at least, if not more) the last four years. And funny enough, when I look back through times of overcoming fear, asking for help or asking for something I really wanted, I’ve found that most times, I got it?! So, fear wasn’t even holding me back from rejection, it was just plain HOLDING ME BACK. And that’s what makes me really sad and frustrated, because I may have just stalled some pretty awesome ideas or moments because I succumbed to fear.
So, I’d love to do the cheerleader thing here and get us all pumped up by saying, “NO MORE! I’m punching fear in the face. GRRRRR…”
But truth be told, I’m walking into this with just a bit more insight. I’m LEARNING to ask myself some detailed questions. If you’re interested in walking with me, then I think you’ll enjoy this list of questions. I generated them to help me get better at asking for help and ultimately to overcome my fears associated with being in community.
To get these questions, I’m going to ASK each of you to do me a favor. EEK! It’s so hard (but much easier in written form). Could you just scroll back up to the top of the page? Then, look over to the right corner and click on the SUBSCRIBE button? You subscribe, and I shoot this PDF right back to you! Then, I would love it, if you would let me know if/how it helped you.