There is a really important lesson I would love to share, something that has continued to have a profound impact on my relationships. It is that giving is a circle. What I mean is that it is equally as important to receive as it is to give. Strangely enough I find that I spend equal (if not more) time talking to my clients about receiving, or asking for help as I do about becoming more giving.
There is a really interesting dynamic in relationships where when you ask for help, the other person feels closer to you. The rubbish in our lives about being super heroes and the badge of honour we wear when we do it all alone, creates isolation and loneliness.
Learning to ask for help means also being graceful about the response. I have learnt to really appreciate a friend who is clear about their boundaries. For me it is a whole new level of communication to move away from the ridiculous mind reading and second guessing that has become a part of our social etiquette, where I say “no thanks, I don’t need help” but you should know that I want you to help anyway. Or I don’t ask my partner to help, but he should know better by now. Or I don’t offer to help because he should ask if he wants me to. When you strip it all away, and each of us take 100% responsibility for asking and answering, then it deepens your connection.
I hold the people in my life responsible for their choices. I have to presume if I ask you to help and you say yes, that you are maintaining your own boundaries and practicing self-care. I have to presume that when I offer help and you say no, that you are genuinely fine.
Let’s be really clear, there are people that I know DON’T do this, and what that means is that we have a pretty superficial relationship. There is a very passive-aggressive element to that kind of exchange, and it creates a real disconnect between people.
Learning to receive with grace and gratitude is a crucial part of this circle. When you receive a compliment or a thank you for help, you must kindly and warmly say “thank you”. NOT “oh, this old dress” or “it was nothing” or “ no need to say thanks”. Because you are not discounting the value of your action, you are devaluing the gratitude and appreciation that is being offered. You are holding your hand closed around that little twinkling light.
Instead, say “It was my absolute pleasure”. “you are so very welcome”. “Thank you, what a wonderful thing to say”. Because what we reflect magnifies. And it deepens connection. And that is a good thing.