I find it hard to accept help. I’ve never been very good at it. I am a proud person and hate feeling “needy”. I am the eldest of 6 kids and learned fairly early that I needed to be independent and self sufficient; but then I also needed to be helpful, nurturing and strong for my siblings. While I find it hard to accept help, I love to help other people.
I had a very difficult time establishing breastfeeding with my son, so I set out to share my experiences in the hopes that this would be helpful to other mums. It felt really good to be able to help people. I’m not going to lie, I have an ego, and I’m proud to be able to help people. But more so than that, it makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside. It makes me feel like I’m a good, worthwhile and valuable person. Although I’ve felt the warmth of gratitude and appreciation, the best bits are the feelings from inside of me – the satisfaction of feeling like I’m a good person. As a person who is quite extroverted and externally motivated, it’s really special to know within myself that I have done well. Most of my life, I’ve relied on praise from other people to feel good about myself.
Some mums are like me and they don’t like to accept help. This may be because they are too proud, too ashamed, or just so used to saying “No thanks, I’m OK” that the words escape their lips without them thinking it through. In the past, I would say I have been afraid of accepting help from people, for fear that it makes me look incompetent. I was a big girl, and I thought I could do it all by myself.
Then I had an “aha” moment. If I feel really good when people allow me to help them, will it feel good for other people if I let them help me too?
For some reason, I always thought offers of help were only ever borne from pity. I realised I was wrong. People offer help because they care about you, and they want to make your load a little lighter. I was doing my friends and family an injustice by refusing to allow them to do that for me.
So now when my mum says she’s going to pop over while I’m not home to do a little bit of cleaning, instead of saying “It’s fine, don’t worry about it” I say “Thanks mum, that would be lovely”. When I’ve been sick and my sister offers to bring over some dinner, instead of saying “No, I’m feeling better now” I wonder if she’s going to bring over one of her amazing curry dishes.
The simple transaction of offering and accepting help strengthens our bonds and can leave all of us feeling a little bit better about our personal value and the value of those around us. It’s something we can all feel good about if we let ourselves.