where a woman can build her strength and freedom

How do we know when someone needs our help?

Photo shows a pale blue gentle butterfly hovering near a flower that is bent over. Our help needs to be gentle like the butterfly.

When you need help, do you ask for it?
I am willing to bet money that you don’t.

Neither do I.
At least, I haven’t so far.

But I recently got married, and I added into my vows
that I will ask for help from my husband when I need it,
and he vowed to do the same.
No matter how proud we are,
how strong and self sufficient we are determined to appear,
we will ASK for help when we need it.

I never would have thought of vowing any such thing!
But my brother gave me the insight from his own experience,
as his wedding gift to me.
He didn’t want me to lose my marriage the way he lost his.

How many of us actually ask for help when we need it?
Sadly, very few.

This means we aren’t likely to be asked.
We are going to have to figure it out ourselves
that someone needs our help.

If we are observant, we will notice…

Signs of struggle

The person who needs our help is struggling.
They are having a hard time covering the bases.
They are having a hard time keeping up appearances.
Everything is hard for them.
Harder and more painful than it was before.

You will hear them say “I can’t…” do this, “I can’t…” get this done.
They are getting behind. 
Their responsibilities loom.
Their sense of all they must DO to stay afloat
 just keeps getting longer and longer
and more and more challenging.

When we see our friend, our family member, our loved one,
our fellow human being 
struggling like this,
it is best not to ask if we can help them.
They are very likely to say No.

Instead we just quietly DO something 
that takes some of the load off them.
We just grin and say “We’ve got this!”
as we cheerfully pitch in and contribute our best selves,
our best efforts,
to meeting their needs by helping them.

Stepping in without intruding is an art.
The more humor we direct at ourselves as we do it, the better.
We tell them OUR to-do list is longer than a jumbo roll of toilet paper!
We tell them we will want them to nominate us for sainthood!

Whatever cracks the helpless feeling they are struggling with.
We crack that feeling by creating experiences of loving camaraderie
that actually strengthen them 
as we lift some of the heavy load off their back.

Link: He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother

What if help isn’t what they need?

We have been talking about how we can tell if someone needs our help.
But sometimes, we may think that’s what they need, but it isn’t.
Sometimes all they really want and need is comfort.
There is a big difference between needing help and needing comfort.

Here is the difference:  
If a person needs help, 
it means they need us to take some kind of action.
They want something fixed or changed.
If a person needs comfort,
they are not looking for us to take action.
They do not want something fixed or changed!!!

If we are a person who is eager to fix
(like most psychologists) 🙂
any time we see someone suffering
we may believe it is our job to fix them…
We may not even realize
that is not what they want!

So…what DO they want?
Well, a person who needs comfort is suffering. 
They are in some kind of pain.

They are looking for us to be gentle.
Very gentle.

So the question becomes…

Link: Are we gentle enough to hold someone who is in pain?