Tuesday, January 17, 2012


Last week while I was at the gym trying to distract myself from being bored by the cross-trainer I listened to a podcast about loneliness, with an interview with Emily White who has written a book about her personal experience. It was a very revealing interview and one particular topic got me thinking. Through her research, White found that loneliness begets loneliness; that it's an ever spiralling situation where being sufficed with one's own company doesn't encourage a lonely person to get out and meet new people.

Lately I've been contemplating the benefits and not-so good aspects of self-reliance, and I believe that a similar paradigm to the loneliness spiral exists here to. Over the course of our lives, starting when we're very young we begin to learn that we are able to do things - open a door, tie our shoelaces, read a book, swim 50 metres, make a sandwich. This mastery is very important in us becoming self-reliant adults that can go off into the world and not starve or freeze to death.

Yet I think some of us can take this too far, and become so self-reliant we forget how to ask for help, or feel like it's a weakness when we need to. I'm like this - I hate asking for help and will go to great lengths to manage my world myself. It's crazy really, as a person my life's mission is to help others, yet I am unable to accept help myself. And it's self perpetuating. You are in a situation finding things difficult, but rather than ask for assistance you struggle through, and in turn learn that you can do it. Great! Fantastic!! Another situation mastered. So next time you find yourself in a similar or worse situation, you've previously learned you can do it so you jump on the merry-go-round again.

Yet this mastery and self-reliance is not all good. Just last week I experienced the worst sunburn I've had since I can remember. It got worse and worse for days, I should have seen a doctor early on but I didn't. I drove 400 kilometres home with wet fabric draped on my legs pouring water over them like some breached dolphin. Finally I went to the doctor, hardly able to walk. After two hours in the waiting room I felt like bursting into tears.

And then I thought - why didn't I ask a friend for help? Why didn't I ask someone to come and drop me off at the emergency room? Why could I not ask for help?

This is something I need to work on this year. I need to remember that like me, others like to be given the opportunity to help when a friend is in need. It's not a weakness, it's not putting people out, it's being a normal human being.

1 comment:

  1. I put my hand up. I like to be given the opportunity to help. Just call me.


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