Do You Accept Help?

When you are a helper, the hardest thing in the world is to accept help. But sometimes needs must, and it’s important to recognise when the situation is such that you have to get off your high horse and be humbly grateful for the help of others.

Many of us in the helping professions derive much of our identity and sense of security from the support we are able to give to others. It’s a wonderful gift most of the time – there are few better feelings than seeing that light bulb go on in someone’s eyes, or receiving a grateful testimonial. 

But sometimes the helper needs help, and that can be a moment of existential crisis – if I am not the helper, if I accept that others can and should help me in this moment, who am I?

You’re a human, that’s who. To quote Peta Kelly, who once gave this as her title in a conference bio, you are Human AF. Neither better nor worse than anyone else, and sometimes in need of support, just like any other human. 

It can be a very humbling moment, but also one of great gratitude and joy. That “I am the helper, I don’t need help” attitude is a suit of armour many of us carry, usually as a result of childhood wounds. It only gets heavier with time, and time will always bring us situations where we need help – physical or emotional. If we are able to recognise these situations and open up to accept the help we need, we can get through them. Otherwise, the weight of the armour may crush us.

This past week, my family went through a situation that brought us face to face with the mortality of someone who is very dear to us. He is still with us, thankfully, but we don’t know for how long. 

I am generally a pro at being Cleopatra, Queen of Denial, but this week my armour fell away, and I am very grateful to those friends and family members who reached out to support me. It really brought home to me that everyone, even the helpers, needs help sometimes, and it’s OK, even excellent, to accept it. It’s not a weakness, it’s a great strength to be able to accept help. Some of us take longer to learn this than others.

Another point I have learned is that it is actually selfish to deny others the opportunity to take care of us in our need. Just as we derive joy from helping, why not let others feel the same? Consider it a gift to them, and you will feel differently about accepting help when you need it.

How about you, do you allow others to help you?