Week 4 Blog: Getting Help
It’s interesting how “getting help” immediately makes me think of therapy. And that I have done plenty of. Some advice I have received was good, some was great, some was flat out brilliant, and some I was definitely not ready to hear. I have never been huge on confiding in friends or family members. Those who I have spoken to, from the bottom of my heart, did not exactly respond with kindness. And so, parallel to my pay-by-the-hour support, I went down the rabbit hole of self-help books, podcasts and motivational speakers.
After a good few years of cleaning out the non-fiction alley at the library and carrying my journal with me like a totem, all I can say, really, is that you need to want the help to make it count. Put differently, you need to have an answer to the “what would you rather have instead” question. And it better be an honest one.
I can’t tell you how many hours I have spent looking out the window, ruminating about my life, the reasons why it turned out the way it did, and where it all originated. While it is always good to know where you are coming from, it is even better to know where you are going. And that is where the hardest work has to be done. I understand so many things about myself now I could probably reverse engineer my entire neuronal pathway system. I have done so much head nodding at my therapists’ couches I could be a cameo in a hip hop video. Yet, all this understanding, knowing and realizing would precisely be just that if I didn’t want the change for myself. Sure, I have had moments of rebellion where I thought the world to be a very unjust and unfair place, where everyone walks around hurting people and I pay half of my salary only to recover from it. At some point it didn’t matter anymore though. I have tasted the taste of not being an a-hole. I have felt the lightness of not second-guessing someone’s intentions. I have smelled the breath of fresh air that comes with forgiveness. And I have not looked back since.
I guess what I am trying to say is that all the (un)professional guidance I have received in my life played the role it was supposed to. Yet, I would not be true to myself if I didn’t say that the most sustainable and lasting help came from within. From actively reminding myself that I know how it feels to be kind. From actually believing and having practical evidence that I am capable of change. And sure, countless hours of counselling and self-learning got me there, but now I see them more like the driver who decides to give a ride to a hitchhiker. “Hey, kiddo, I can only take you this far. You’re on your own now”. It’s great not having to walk all the way from north to south, but wherever you were on your way to and whatever you had to do there, that’s on you.
It should be plenty clear by now, but I definitely think there is no shame in asking for help. However, the quality of the help is always directly proportional to the genuineness of the intention. I mean, how many times have I fired up my meditation app, only to wake up half an hour later, drooling on my zafu. I get it, being tired is real. Having a lousy day at work is real. Migraines are real. What is equally real though is being serious about change. Not being addicted to looking to others to tell me how to live my life, but grabbing the bull by the horns myself, knowing I may get hit. Because that is real too: getting all the help, support and guidance you needed and still not putting it to use. Because “not now”, because “what do you know”, because “that is all I have”. And I am not telling you to not sit there and mourn the loss of what used to be. Getting closure is a privilege not all of us have had a chance to savour. Be conscious of time though. Make sure you have enough mental energy left to welcome and embrace the new. That is actually one of the most valuable things I have been told in therapy: you can never fully prepare for the future. All you are doing then is wasting the time you have now that you are not getting back.