February 11, 2014

Sometimes We Really Do Need Help!

When people see me in what seems an awkward or difficult situation, they naturally ask if I need a hand. For decades I automatically declined any offer of help for two reasons:

1. I’ve always been stubbornly independent – and proud of it.

2. I felt it critically important to be as self-sufficient as possible – in every way. 

Hand ReachingAfter all, I told myself, it’s embarrassing to have people fussing over me. Often their ‘help’ isn’t really helpful anyway.

As the years pass, my attitudes about independence and assistance are shifting. In the first place, if I’m honest, I am recognizing that I really do need help sometimes.

  • It’s nice to have someone load my groceries in the car at the supermarket.
  • If my hands are full, some help in opening the door really does come in handy.
  • I really do need the offer of a seat at a crowded event.
  • When I fall, it is hard to get up by myself.

Independence is a valuable personal characteristic. Taken to the extreme, it can be foolhardy and dangerous – and it can make me appear arrogant.

My hair is slowly turning gray. Just as slowly, I am realizing that folks who offer to help are not pitying me or attempting to rob me of my independence; they are simply trying to be considerate and helpful. Before refusing an offer of help, I would do well to consider whether I am coming across as independent or simply stubborn.

My advice: Balance independence and realistic use of help from others.

I’m glad that – however slowly – I am coming to realize that I lose nothing when I accept help.  In fact, by doing so, I may be helping both of us understand each other better.   

Guest blogger Alan Flynn of Sacramento has cerebral palsy and grew up in a small farming community in the Midwest, the middle child in a family of five boys. He has two adult daughters and a new grandson. Through his writing, he hopes to challenge himself and others to reach new goals in every aspect of our lives and gain self-understanding and enthusiasm for the opportunities waiting for us. 


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