A few days ago I was having coffee with a group of long-time friends. After a few minutes spent discussing the three requisite Canadian topics of weather, politics and hockey the conversation shifted to turning points in our lives.
One of my friends reminisced about a journey he had begun some five years ago when he had enrolled in a well-known weight loss program and had shrunk down his body size by one third. Not only had he successfully lost 90 pounds he had comfortably remained at his present weight of 180 pounds for more than three years.
Another one mentioned that he recently celebrated his fourth year of sobriety. He reminded us of how he spent more than 20 years of his life hiding his drinking from friends, family and coworkers all the while deluding himself into believing that he was doing so successfully.
Someone else at the table talked about how he had clawed hisway back from the horrors of addiction to prescription painkillers and another person at the table told us of how her business – that had been causing her great stress and anxiety – had turned around the moment she had put into practice the advice she had received from a friend.
Several others at the table shared their stories and at one point each person remarked how the turning point in their lives had begun the moment they joined AA or signed up with Weight Watchers or began weaning themselves off prescription drugs or started to put into practice the ideas and recommendations provided by a friend.
They all marked that first action as being the first day of their new lives, that the massive changes in their lives had begun the very day they had each taken that first step in a new and fresh direction.
Before the last drop of coffee was drained they all agreed that the common denominator to their new and improved lives, the one thing that was common to all, was that each of them had made a choice to change the direction of their lives and had acted upon that choice.
A few days ago I was chatting with a long time friend.
My friend has overcome many challenging struggles in his life and we were discussing some of his recent successes.
This particular friend had not been part of the coffee group but he said something that immediately brought that coffee conversation back to mind.
He said that each turning point in his life had begun the moment he realized that the challenges in his life were bigger than his ability to overcome them alone and he had finally done the one thing he had resisted doing for years.
He reached out to a friend, acknowledged his problem, and asked for help.
And he questioned why he had waited so long before asking for help?
And why so many of us do the same?
After my conversation with him I thought back to the coffee chat and realized that exactly that same thing applied.
A crucial piece of each person’s story had been overlooked during the part of the discussion where we discussed turning points in our lives.
The dramatic, changing turn around that each of those folks had experienced had not begun the day they had taken their first step as each of them had alluded to during our coffee earlier that day.
In fact, the catalyst to the massive changes that each of them had experienced had started several days, weeks or even months prior to that moment. It had begun when each of them had done something that they could have done many years earlier and had chosen not to do.
You see, I left out a very key part of the story in the earlier paragraphs.
The person who had gone to Weight Watchers had gone with a friend. The person who was celebrating four years of sobriety had gone to his AA meeting with a friend. The lady whose business turned around the moment she put into practice the advice given by a friend had first sought that advice from that friend prior to putting anything into practice.
The dramatic changes that had so profoundly impacted the lives of each of those people had really started the moment each of them separately and individually accepted that;
a) they had a problem in their lives that they were incapable of solving by themselves and
b) they reached out and asked a friend for help.
And this is the question of the day. Why is it so difficult for so many of us to ask for help?
Are we afraid that our friends will discover the truth about us?
Are we afraid that asking for help will be viewed as a sign of weakness?
Do we fear that by asking our friends for their help they will laugh at us, chastise us, criticize us?
Have we created a façade that we don’t want anyone to penetrate?
Do we really think we can do everything on our own?
Is it shameful to acknowledge failure?
Have we confused pride with false pride?
As I further reviewed the discussion from earlier that day I remembered that each one of them had acknowledged that their only regret was that that they had not taken that first step years and years earlier.
That first step of asking for help which had led to the first step of taking the very actions that had so positively changed their lives.
And I couldn’t help but wonder how different each of their lives might have been had they not waited to ask for help but had done so years earlier. How many years had they suffered silently because they had, perhaps, been too afraid, or ashamed, or embarrassed to acknowledge their own unhappiness to others?
And I reminded myself of how often my own false pride, arrogance, ego, stupidity, shame and embarrassment have kept me mired in miserable situations rather than acknowledge to myself that I could not resolve them alone and simply ask for help.
And I vowed – never again.
Sadly, so many of us will never ask for help – even when we desperately need it.
And I don’t know why.
It makes no sense.
I can’t figure it out by myself.
Can you help me?
Till we read again.
P.S. My book Life Sinks or Soars – the Choice is yours will be available in both hard copy and e-book format at both Amazon and Barnes & Noble by the end of November. Several people have ordered copies of the book as Christmas presents for their friends and family. Naturally, I think this is a brilliant idea. If you would like to do the same you can order online in a few weeks time or you can click here and those cheerful folks at Self Connection will happily send you as many copies as you wish. They are holding the price at $9.99 through the Christmas season. You can also order the books by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I would offer to gift wrap the books for you but, unfortunately, my wife Gimalle does not allow me to play with scissors.