Accepting Help

(This is a step-by-step, progressive course; if you arrived at this page first, please back up and start at the beginning, HERE.)

Even after you validate your life and problems, and accept your worthiness… are you open to accepting help? Remember, this course is designed to tackle your problems from various angles, trying to disassemble roadblocks you perhaps didn’t even realize you had, roadblocks that have invisibly crept into your thoughts, behavior, your entire personality, without you even realizing how controlling and powerful they’ve become.

It seems a little ridiculous to say it out loud, but many of you are not actually open to accepting help. You may be open to accepting some kinds of help but not others, or maybe you are open to accepting help but with stringent conditions, but it takes a surprising amount of thought and energy to break down your own barriers to accepting help unconditionally.

Take a quick skip to the bottom of this page and look at the picture of the bird in my hand. There is an important point to each picture and story here, so bear with me:

As occasionally happens, a bird flew into out window and stunned itself. I always check; sometimes they are killed instantly, but sometimes only stunned. You can help window-stunned birds by holding them for awhile. This keeps them from losing body heat, keeps them safe from other predatory birds and cats, and the strangeness of finding itself in some alien human’s hands helps the bird to be frightened and nervous enough to waken to alertness, rather than slipping down the slow fade to unconsciousness, oblivion and dying on the ground. I learned this trick from my dad and have used it to revive a few birds over the years.

The bird pictured above stayed in my hand for about fifteen minutes. But flying into a reflection – which it thought was ‘sky’ – is a confusing thing, and saps a bird of its surety in flying. So once it became alert, standing up, looking around, it still wouldn’t take off from my hand.

I stood and walked to a fence post, placed the bird on it, and walked out of sight for a few minutes. The bird was still there when I returned. It was alert, standing on the post and looking around, but it needed one final step to regain its flight-confidence.

So I walked swiftly towards it… and finally it broke its fear barrier and flew again.

Metaphorically, you become that bird at times in your life. You come to a point where you are overwhelmed, by some single overpowering event or by some long term corrosion of your life, and you need a helping hand because your problems seem to have reached a state that is insurmountable all by yourself. You are just like that bird… perhaps quite confused or stunned by what is happening, finding yourself in strange circumstances, trapped in the hands of some power you can’t escape.

But what parts of that power are trying to hurt you, and what parts are helping you? To that bird, I’m not a savior or friend or helping hand; it’s terrified of me, not sure what to do, feeling stunned and trapped and in fear for its life. I am a huge being beside it, and I can choose to help it or crush it, yet it will not ‘know’ that I am helping it. If I let it go, it simply escapes, not thinking that I have helped it and let it go, not feeling gratitude or trust towards me.

But you, when you need help, are not actually that bird. You can learn to discern the motives and conditions of those around you who are helping you, for better or for worse.

This is where another great effort, and often disappointment, begins, because once you begin the search for help, you usually have to wade through a whole pile of things you DON’T need, in order to receive what you do need. You go looking for help, and it seems everyone wants you to join a religion or cult, or people you go to in your own religion don’t seem to know how to help, they just repeat things they believe in… but perhaps those things seem empty and don’t answer your deep need.

Or you go to a professional who you hear might have answers for you… but you have to buy a book, or buy a course, or pay for one-on-one counseling, or pay for counseling-by-email, or have to pay for SOMETHING in this ‘industry of help’; or you go to a friend or relative for some deep help, only to discover that person wasn’t really there for you at all; or you find out that someone you thought was simply helping you selflessly, turns out later to want to sleep with you or something else ‘in return’.

There are hundreds or thousands of pitfalls to stumble into when you’re vulnerable, weakened, looking for help. People, even ‘helpful’ people, even prey on people like you who are vulnerable, weakened, looking for help. It’s big business. Your problems are big business to others. Your problems are also an ‘opening’ to predators on the prowl, and to vultures of opportunity. Often there is so much falseness to wade through that you find it’s hopeless and you begin to doubt anything or anyone being able to help you, because you wonder what their angle is, what they’re selling, what they want from you, or what harm they want to do to you.

You may have gotten to the point where you don’t even accept help any more, even when you’re asking for it, because you don’t know what ‘else’ is going to come paper-clipped to that help, and don’t have any faith that anything can help any more. Or maybe it’s more benign, maybe people around you have tried to help you for nothing in return, but they still don’t seem to know what to do or say, all the help they offer doesn’t quite seem to ‘scratch your itch’, to connect clearly with your deep need. They don’t quite see you… hear you… authentically, and can’t seem to do or say some appropriate thing that truly resonates with you. They just don’t ‘get’ you, what you’re going through. So you lose hope that you’ll ever meet anyone who can say what you need to hear.

But there is help. There are all kinds of people willing to help you, in an authentic way, free and for nothing in return, simply because they care and they want to help – even if you’re a stranger – with no strings attached. And these people are all around you… you just haven’t known how to recognize them. Chances are you haven’t met anyone like this, whether friend or relative or stranger or counselor or book or religion or whatever… because you’re here on the internet asking ‘help me please’, putting it out into the void and hoping someone or something truly helpful will finally reach out and find you. Right?

Maybe you don’t ask anyone for help and never have. Maybe you’re even afraid to let people know what you’re going through, maybe it’s completely private, something you keep hidden and can’t tell anyone. You’re afraid, maybe rightly so, of how they will react. Or maybe you’re not in any danger, but your own ego simply can’t accept it if others were to know how you’re feeling inside, or what trouble you’re in. Men in particular go through this; you can ask for help in constructing a house or fixing a truck, but when it comes to something deep, something affecting your feelings, many men are still brought up to feel that it would be ‘weak’, unmanly, to talk about it with ‘buddies’ and to ask for help with ‘your feelings’ and difficulties.

Maybe you need help but the only person to offer it is religious, or of a different religion, or of a different culture and upbringing, and you suspect that even to listen to them means you’ll have to put up with a lot of stuff about them trying to convert you, make you ‘buy into’ whatever they’re talking about, just because you want help from them. Maybe you need help but the only people who offer it… are people you suspect will want something in return for it eventually, will think they ‘own’ a part of you and can tap into that somewhere down the road. ‘Hey, they did something for you when you needed it… now they need something from you. So pay up; you OWE them, right?’ – This is unfortunately a very common activity, for people to use helping others as a form of currency so they can instill a feeling of owing, or guilt, in that person, turn around and use it later to extract something from them. That something being some return favor, chore, job, money, sex, babysitting, whatever.

Yes, you often have a pathway littered with little landmines like that right at the exact moment you don’t need them – when you’re vulnerable and seeking help. And your knowledge of these landmines, and avoidance of them, can build into a very impenetrable defense that you hadn’t even been aware existed. You can literally be screaming for help, and pushing away any help that does come.

This step is simply to become aware of one thing: your conscious act of accepting help.

That doesn’t mean ‘blindly’, doesn’t mean accepting help from anyone or anything. It means still making your own decisions and avoiding what you sense may be harmful or not what you want. But it also means putting aside your ego, or your resistance, when you DO find a source of help that seems authentic, and giving it a sincere welcome into you. It means that no matter how weak and vulnerable you become, and how desperate you are for help, still keep a tiny part of your awareness open to discernment: to differentiating pure, unconditional help, apart from devious, harmful help. Many of you will lump it all together, the ‘bad’ help will taint you even towards the ‘good’ help and you’ll be resistant of ALL help.

But try to move beyond that, and when you sense someone coming along who seems to truly care about you and wants to help you unconditionally, try to allow that help. If you have doubts, you can learn to clarify things. Simply saying this can work: ‘Are you really helping me unconditionally? Because that’s what I need right now. I don’t want to feel like I owe you something in return later, I don’t want you to feel you own any part of my future or behavior, I want to feel free to turn you down even if you ask me for a return favor later. I just need help, and I don’t want the person helping me to think they’re buying something for later. Can you do that?’

I find it helps to clarify this if you’re in doubt about someone’s motives when they offer to help you. It even occasionally causes them to look more clearly into their motives, perhaps see they DID have some ulterior motives. But if you clear it up this way, a number of people will also ‘get it’. They’ll get that you are asking for help, but you want to trust that this help does not have anything else paper-clipped to it, because you are weak and vulnerable and you don’t want anyone taking advantage of that. This unusual appeal for the best motives in people, is often answered surprisingly well.

This clarified asking can help with many other roadblocks too. You can ask for help from religious people, cult people, people of different religions and beliefs than you, but preface it by saying, “I’m asking you for help, but not to convert. I just don’t want to debate about your or my beliefs right now. Can you help me, WITHOUT all that? If not, I’ll go to someone else.”

It helps to reach out to the humanity of people. If you clarify up front that you are in need of unconditional help and cannot (even will not) repay it in the future, this candid appeal hits to the core of goodness in most people. Not everyone – perhaps you have some pretty rough eggs around you – but most peoples’ intrinsic goodness can be reached, even if they’ve forgotten it for awhile.

Really, when you learn to accept help, learn to try avoid the conditional help of people who aren’t behaving so purely for your benefit, when you appeal to their better nature and clarify that you’ll only accept pure and unconditional help from them, and learn to recognize and accept genuine selfless help from someone else – it will actually make you much stronger, not weaker. Learning to ask for help in a clearer way, and learning to identify and freely accept the right kind of help, will open your life up, fill you with gratitude and the desire to start spreading it around yourself.

I didn’t begin to reach my true power as a human being until I learned to accept help. It didn’t weaken me, it made me so much stronger, so much more grateful, and so much more giving. There are so many pitfalls to accepting help, I had to learn them and deal with them all along the way. It’s taken me a good twenty years to really work through my defenses to ‘being helped’. Now… man, don’t even come near me, I’ll be asking you to help me with everything, money, life, food, sex, house, car, entertainment, I’ll ask you shamelessly and without guilt for any help I do and don’t need, and I’ll tell you that I’ll probably never give you anything in return, and I’ll feel totally okay about asking for it and accepting it from you and never giving you anything in return. It’s great.

I am kidding. But if I do ask for help, of any kind, and with no conditions, I am fine with it. And now I understand about the many defensive feelings ‘being helped’ engenders in people, and am careful to clarify it with others who ask my help. It really surprises them sometimes. I’ll do something for them, they’ll say a ‘Thanks man, I’ll get you back some day’ kind of response. I say, “Don’t you dare! If I even think you’re trying to repay that, I’ll say no! My gifts are free, my favors are free.” This is an alien happening, to most people, and I love seeing the reactions. Because they are used to the pitfalls, to the feeling of having to owe you for any favor you give them.

Even guilt is a pitfall, simply the guilt of accepting help. Amazing how we learn to feel so guilty about even needing help, guilty about asking for help, guilty about receiving help without being able to ‘pay it back’ in the future, shame about appearing weak and needy, guilty about the entire details revolving around being helped.

Your defenses built around accepting help are much thicker than you thought. They are tied into your feelings of worthiness, your self-worth as a human being, your guilt, your self-opinion, your ego, your personality, the very essence of who and what you are. And that is why I am bringing it up. Those defenses won’t just go away because you read this. You’ll have to work through them along the way. But it is worth it.

Learn to feel fine, even wonderful, about accepting help. Do not fall into the narcissistic trap of feeling you deserve help, you’re owed help, because then you are uncaring, even arrogant with expectations, when you receive help. But feel fine about gratefully ACCEPTING help, graciously, freely, caringly. Feel fine about accepting a LOT of help, if you need it. Feel fine about accepting a lot of UNCONDITIONAL help, without ever hoping or planning to repay it, if you need it. Learn to let go of your guilt and your defenses to accepting the right kind of help from the right kind of people.

There is no problem that cannot be more powerfully, efficiently, and sometimes even more enjoyably dealt with, when you learn to openly accept help, clarify what kind of unconditional help you need, and find the right helpers.

Accepting Help

Unlike a bird, you can learn to discern (hey, that rhymes) someone who is truly and unconditionally helping you, from someone who has other motives. And you can learn to accept help guilt-free, shame-free, owe-free.

After learning to accept help… what NEXT?

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