Hoplessness

10 thoughts on asking for help

8461114451_ae837e12f1_z1.  You don’t need to know what is wrong.  If you have a feel that something is, that is all you need to start.

2.  You don’t need to have a solution.  That is what the help is for.

3.  Help is not for other people.  It is for everybody.  It is for you.

4.  Help is not weakness.

5.  Asking for help is a sign of strength.

6.  Being afraid or uncomfortable before, during and possibly after asking for help is normal.

7.  Being brave is not without an element of fear.  Being brave is acting despite of that fear.  Be brave

8.  Crying is not for girls.

9.  Asking for help will make life better in the long run.  Trust in that.

10.  If you don’t ask for help, what is the alternative?

I hope that helps.

How do deal with your ego and it’s ugly cousin, impatience

3254923387_ca4d070d0c_zWhat you want to do versus what you think you should be doing

When you first starting something new, like your own personal development, there is a strong tendency to want to progress and be at a certain level almost immediately.  Nobody likes to be a beginner, or the new guy/gal, but being the rookie is a vital stage that helps us learn essential lessons and skills.

If you could take time and be OK with going slow and appreciate every step of the process, then you go much deeper into your understanding of yourself and strengthen the benefits of what you are trying to do.

But believe me, it is not always easy. I tend to rush things and want to improve quickly.  Being conscious of slowing yourself down is a skill and like all skills needs practice.  In this case of growing patience and valuing the process, your biggest obstacles (OK, let”s just say it, your enemies) are ego and impatience.  Here are some insights on that will help you cultivate a relationship with your ego, understand impatience and realize that the happiness and change you are seeking is right here today in the process and not at a hopeful endpoint.

Ego

To be honest, in personal development there is no end point.  This is a quote that I not only like, but really illuminates the moment in your thoughts when your ego gets the best of you.  The quote is by Darren L. Johnson and reads “Anytime there is a struggle between doing what is actually right and doing what seems right, then your ego is interfering with your decision”.

This is the moment when we know what we should do, but in order to preserve our appearance either to ourselves or others, we choose to protect our image rather than do what is best for us.  This same voice is the one that convinces to stop doing something when we are tired, finding it more and more difficult and perhaps increasingly more monotonous.  Ego is the voice in your head and the uneasy sensation in your chest and stomach when you think you’re not doing enough, being enough and/or moving fast enough.  Some examples of when your ego starts to talk (if not scream at you):

  • The mileage in your daily runs is not progressing enough in the preparation for the marathon
  • Your hamstrings are not loose enough in yoga
  • Your blog has fewer visitors than you think you should have
  • Your relationship is not where you think it should be
  • You are not cutting down any longer in smoking.  In fact, you want more.
  • Those desserts are not getting cut out like they were last month.  You are now even cheating.

All of these are based upon where you  “think” you should be rather than where you actually are.  So where do these thoughts come from?  The ideas that your ego has are put there by you. You’ve determined the point that you should be at by comparing yourself to others OR to some mythical idea in your head.  This comparison of where you are versus where you think you should be has brought out your ego loud and clear saying: “WHAT YOU ARE DOING IS NOT GOOD ENOUGH!”

This then leads us into impatience. 

After the ego has been chattering and telling us to hurry up and improve, it is natural to become very impatient.  This quote by Charles Caleb Colton sums it up by saying “Patience is  the support of the weakness; impatience is the ruin of strength.”

If you could support the areas that you view as weaknesses or shortcomings, then the strength that allowed you to try in the first place would not be ruined.  You allow yourself to keep going. 

However, your ego can be very persuasive and when it speaks, your natural defence is to become impatient.  This immediate feeling of impatience is your ego’s way of trying to lessen the gap between where you are and where your ego thinks you should be.  This strong desire created by your ego to quickly have you become the image it has starts you pushing, the beating yourself up, and the operating with very unrealistic expectations.  This powerful combination of ego and impatience can either make your work miserable by placing you in a constant state of catch-up or frustrate you into quitting.  Either way, your work falls by the wayside just to silence your ego and get rid of the suffocating panic.

How to move past ego and impatience

Once ego has spoken and impatience is running rampant, there is a very simple choice:  learn to work with them and move your work forward.  I suggest the latter. 

If you can let your ego do it’s talking without reacting impatiently, the question changes from “Why am I not good enough?” to “How do I want to choose to show up to the situation?”  This keeps you in the game.  This prevents you from starting many things and ultimately quitting them and This is a big shift.

A questions to work with

Work gently with yourself and ask “Am I driven by where I think I should be in the process rather than appreciating where you actually are in the process?”  It is important to work from reality and not an invented future.  When you make this shift, notice what happens.  It might be hard to accept at first in some cases, but I guarantee the leanings from an accurate view of reality are much more powerful than a reality tinged with ego.  This topic is the basis of my ebook.   I”d love to hear your feedback and comments.

Our self imposed limits

ElderlyA beautiful, powerful reminder by Susan Sontag:

A lot of our ideas about what we can do at different ages and what age means are so arbitrary — as arbitrary as sexual stereotypes. I think that the young-old polarization and the male-female polarization are perhaps the two leading stereotypes that imprison people. The values associated with youth and with masculinity are considered to be the human norms, and anything else is taken to be at least less worthwhile or inferior. Old people have a terrific sense of inferiority. They’re embarrassed to be old. What you can do when you’re young and what you can do when you’re old is as arbitrary and without much basis as what you can do if you’re a woman or what you can do if you’re a man.

 

How to move past the hopelessness

Acknowledging how you feel

HopelessI’ve often found myself with a very heavy sense of hopelessness.  In some cases, feeling a very powerful sensation of not having a way out and I need to be very proactive in keeping this emotion in balance.  If I’m not careful, I can easily jump to many worse case scenarios that can overpower my current thoughts and cripple me into inaction.  At that point, I’m not going anywhere and moving more into my true self is halted.

Therefore, I work very hard with myself and clients to find bright spots.  Bright spots is a term coined by the Heath brothers in the book Switch.  Simply put, it is noticing what exists in your life when you feel things are working, and then replicating it in all areas of your life.  So for example, if I feel good at the end of the day, I often ask myself “What was different about today?” Or if I had a good conversation with somebody that really challenges my patience, I reflect up on what made this encounter special.  It is finding those mindsets, attitudes, situations and feelings deep from within and applying them to all areas of your life.

How to start

  • You have to be honest.  Gentle and kind, but honest.  A true moment of honesty produces very moving results.  
  • If you feel nothing is working, then find the areas of your life that are the least uncomfortable and analyze them.  They might not ideal, but they are more so than others, so deconstruct what it is that allows you to feel better about these areas.
  • If your life has a real range of sensations and feelings, then target those true bright spots.  Put them under a magnifying glass and see why they are so special to you.
  • Start to feel areas of your body as you think.  Notice where your emotions settle into your body and how the body changes depending on your emotional state.
  • Spend more time alone or at least quiet.
  • Take away judgement.  Think “no thought deserves a gold metal or a reprimand”.
  • Be gentle as you apply the bright spots to the dark ones.
  • Go slow.  Change is slow but the process can very be enjoyable if you give yourself a reasonable timeframe.
  • Keep at it.
  • Keep at it.
  • Keep at it.
  • Be frequent with your reflections and don’t shy away from it when it is uncomfortable.  That is where the really good stuff is; where all the learning happens.  You can learn more about yourself in a  few minutes reflecting on the challenging issues than a life time on the easy ones.
  • Be emotional.  Let yourself cry (even if your a guy.  Especially if you are a guy).
  • Look at your language.  How do you label events in your life?  How do you talk to yourself?  Others?
  • Get support.  Other people can listen, offer support and insight.  A change in perspective can jump you in an instant to a completely new way of thinking.

We are not alone in sharing a sense of hopelessness.  It is a very valuable emotion.

However, like all emotions, it needs to pass and not become a lifestyle.  Start the work and uncover the learnings that hopelessness has offered you and enrich your life with it’s teachings.