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Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Say Yes to Help

Two weeks ago, Carol, one of the other Broads, asked me if I wanted her to write an extra post this month, as I would be on vacation the week I usually write for this site. “No, no,” I said, “I’m sure I can handle one little blog entry.” Fast forward to this morning, when Chris emailed me to make sure I was okay as I hadn’t posted anything yet. Yes, dear readers, I am fine. Great, actually after a week’s vacation, except for a case of the Mommy Brain. (Is there a statute of limitations on blaming my son for forgetting things? If there is, don’t tell me.)

So I think my lesson of the day is that accepting help is good. Having an infant son, working part-time, writing, and running my household keeps my plate pretty full. At the moment, the balance feels okay. Daniel sleeping through the night, and napping, has improved things greatly, but sometimes, okay, often, I can’t do everything myself.

I heard someone say a few months ago that when they help someone else, they feel really good. This made me realize that maybe I’m not bothering someone by asking for help, but giving them an opportunity to feel good. I like that reframe. When I’m able to assist someone, I’m usually glad to do it. Sometimes I say yes when I should say no, but that also teaches me something, so really, I never lose by helping others.

A few months ago, as I left Trader Joe’s with a cart full of groceries and a screaming baby, a man materialized and offered to load the bags into my car. My first inclination was to decline, but instead, I said yes. I strapped the baby into his seat, and by the time I’d finished my assistant was wheeling the cart away, saying over his shoulder that he remembered those days. I imagine that stranger felt good about helping me, and I went home with a grateful heart, touched by the random act of kindness. I try to be kind as often as possible, so maybe I need to practice allowing other people to be kind to me.


  1. Lol, because I got to practice letting go after I asked. I really, really, really wanted to ask, on Sat. And, again on Sunday and yesterday, "are you sure you do not want me to jump in?"

  2. This topic is so timely for me. I realized this year that I really hate to weed the garden. I saw an ad on Craig's List and hired a helper to do the work. I feel really good about giving a young woman a good day's work. But you are so right about the good feeling that the helper receives from random acts of kindness that you described. I am going to make a point of looking for more opportunities both to give and to receive.

  3. Carol, good restraint :) I felt a bit chagrined as I remembered telling you on Friday about how I deliver when people are expecting me to. Oh well, my secret is out - I'm imperfect.

    Chris, I love the idea of hiring help. That's a win-win in many cases.

    Thanks, Broads!

  4. Hi!

    I, too, was wondering where you were, Julie. And almost jumped in, myself. But I am practicing restraint, not being in charge, letting life move at its own pace. I knew something would come through WITHOUT my help for a change.

    On the other hand, I love your message. For me, asking for help is the biggest risk I take. Like you, I am often surprised when someone offers to help and I actually take it, rather than saying, "No, that's okay, I can do it." Of course I can do it. I always do. But that's not the point. I used to say, but needed your post as a reminder, that I don't expect to be able to keep the electricity moving through the wires or the water flowing through the pipes or the weather from changing, so WHY do I expect myself to do so many other things by myself? Thanks for the funny, timely reminder!

  5. I have to fight saying, "No thank you," when someone offers to help me out. I just don't want to be a burden to anyone and I have a stubborn independence streak. I try to say, "Yes" to offers of service as often as possible because, like you point out, you are really doing the provider a favor. Giving feels so good and if none of us ever took, where would that leave us.

  6. This discussion reminds me that strengths can be overdone and look like weaknesses. For instance, when overdone helpful can be smothering and supportive can be self-sacrificing.
    The talent with our strengths is to learn to use them as strengths.