We all need support — lots of it. We weren’t meant to do everything for ourselves.
Assess how you currently navigate challenges: Do you immediately isolate, put on your armor, grab your sword, and head out into the forest to slay the dragon alone? Or do you enlist the help and strategic counsel of other knights and soothsayers who have already weathered similar challenges? What is your typical response to feeling stressed, overwhelmed, and isolated?
Next, consider all the ways you could ask for the help you need.
Asking For and Receiving Help in Our Everyday Lives
Here are a few ideas on how to ask for and receive help in our everyday lives:
• Let your boss know you’re overextended at work and you’re concerned this will effect the quality of your work. Specifically, you can ask for help prioritizing tasks, request additional staff support, or tap coworkers for help or ideas on how to streamline processes or tasks.
• Cultivate an existing friendship, or create a support group that will meet your specific needs.
• Ask a neighbor, another mom or dad, or a single friend to watch your child when you need help. Don’t feel like you have to reciprocate; just practice receiving.
• If you usually handle the cooking, ask your partner to make a meal for the family — and then stay out of the kitchen. Let go!
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• If you have a big house chore to handle, like cleaning out your garage or weeding your yard, create a “work crew” of friends. Reward them with a party afterward, and/or offer to swap house tasks the following weekend.
• For family or parenting issues, ask for support and ideas from a parenting educator or coach. Often churches or local nonprofits offer this for free. If you’re unsure, ask potential mentors to lunch to get to know them first.
• If you want more emotional or practical help from your partner, set up a date to talk about this and brainstorm ways you could support each other to bring more flow and ease to your days (sometimes you may simply need emotional support).
• Get your kids involved. Ask them to help fold the laundry, vacuum a room, help with dinner prep, or water the plants. Kids are never too young to share in household or family responsibilities.
• Practice saying yes! The next time someone offers you something — to buy you coffee or lunch, to watch your cat, to help you move, and so on — accept the gift, smile, and say thank you!
Finding and Building Your Tribe
I’m passionate about fostering connection and creating intentional community for myself, my family, and others. I’m involved in so many groups that when I’m headed out the door to an evening or weekend gathering, my husband likes to joke, “Which women’s circle, girlfriend gathering, or retreat are you going to or leading today?” My husband has learned to find his tribe, too, participating in a weekly drumming group — for over seven years — and attending an annual men’s spirituality retreat.
Building your tribe takes work, however. It’s a skill that we have to learn. And as I travel around the globe, I frequently hear the question “How do you create community?”
A female executive at a large Fortune 500 company came up to me at the end of a “build your support network” presentation in Philadelphia. She had tears in her eyes. She said that while she was in a book club, involved in her neighborhood, and occasionally attended women’s leadership discussion groups, what she sorely missed and craved most was real, authentic, meaningful dialogue with people who let her show up without her mask — makeup-free.
Letting Down Your Guard: Being Open to Connect More Deeply
Finding such a community of people may be just a conversation away, but it requires us to let down our guard, be vulnerable, and open up to a new way of being with others. People everywhere have a growing desire to circle up and connect more deeply around matters of the heart. It’s how we’re supposed to be, and when you experience this, there’s no turning back. Before you can find or build that community for yourself, however, you must cultivate the mindset and desire to make this a priority; you set your intention for how you want to interact with others before you ever take action.
Building and facilitating community is core to my being, and it’s radically transformed my life. Whether it’s reaching out to a mentor for support on a new project at work or emailing my meditation circle to ask them to send me good thoughts when I’m having an emotionally turbulent time, I now know that if I’m feeling alone — it’s my choice. And I can choose not to be.
Reaching Out & Asking for Help: Creating a Personal Support System
When my son was small, I had a bulletin board in my kitchen with a picture of my family in the middle and an affirmation in large type at the top that read, “I Manage My Life with Ease and I Experience an Abundance of Time and Support.”
On the board, I posted lists of various support areas with phone numbers. In part, this was a practical tool: it helped to have handy the contact information for moms and friends, play groups, my health and wellness support, babysitters and child care, therapists, parenting coaches, and so on. But more importantly, I would feel a wave of support wash over me every time I looked at the board and visualized my support system, ready to spring into action when needed.
Now, I just have to keep remembering to reach out and ask for help through all my life stages!
Support Can Make All the Difference: Flipping on the Support Switch
Learning to ask for and receive help isn’t something that happens overnight. For most of us, this takes some inner work, releasing control, lots and lots of practice, and often rewiring some of our habits and expectations.
Ultimately, I believe that what life is all about is releasing, stretching, evolving, and coming into the highest expression of who we are while in community. Who would choose to go it alone when you can walk your path in the good company of your brothers and sisters? Support can make all the difference in how we experience the journey.
*subtitles by InnerSelf
Reprinted with permission of the publisher,
New World Library, Novato, CA 94949. www.newworldlibrary.com.
©2013 by Renée Peterson Trudeau. All Rights Reserved.
Nurturing the Soul of Your Family: 10 Ways to Reconnect and Find Peace in Everyday Life
by Renée Peterson Trudeau
About the Author
Renée Peterson Trudeau is an internationally recognized life balance coach, speaker, and author. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, Good Housekeeping, and numerous other media outlets. On the faculty of Kripalu Center for Yoga & Wellness, she leads life balance workshops and retreats for Fortune 500 companies, conferences, and organizations worldwide. Visit her website at http://reneetrudeau.com/