I’ve developed the theory that to be relaxed, healthy, confident, and joyful adults we must rediscover our natural brilliance from toddler-hood. I’m lucky enough to have two nieces who are currently sharing their brilliance with me. The youngest, who is twenty months old, has been coaching me lately simply by being herself.
She’s just getting into a groove with her talking skills. Her repertoire includes the obligatory “no” as well as other necessities like “mom,” “shoes,” “juice,” and “quack.” Her catchphrase, however, is “need help.” (Pronounced “nee hep.”) The simplicity of this is truly brilliant. When she needs help (which is often), she just says, “need help,” and points to whatever issue is at hand.
I’m not really sure why, as adults, we stop saying, “need help.” I think nearly every client I’ve worked with, including myself, has had to re-learn how to ask for help. Not asking for help in a direct, clear way is at the root of so many relationship struggles. I know I have certainly driven my husband nuts in the past, because I hid my needs from him until they burst forth in a ball of confusing resentment.
I used to hide my needs from myself, too. I didn’t let myself admit to myself whatever I really needed or wanted from myself and others. This made it impossible, naturally, to actually ask for help.
For the past few years I’ve been working on being honest with myself and clearly stating what I need, both to me and to others. My husband has been very appreciative of this directness. However, as I was going through my recent grieving process, I found myself falling back into the old habit of hiding my needs. This led to a large but very useful argument with my husband, in which he reminded me that he 1) cannot read my mind 2) wants to be there for me and 3) needs to know how to be there for me.
So, I’ve taken a page out of my niece’s book and reintroduced the simple phrase, “need help” into my vocabulary. Each day, I ask myself what I need, both in the grieving process and in general. Much of what I need is simple, easy to do for myself, or not that big of a deal to someone else. When taken in small, daily doses, my needs are easily met. It’s only a backlog of unmet needs that causes trouble.
It feels ridiculously luxurious, decadent, relaxing, and delicious to both meet my own needs and get help and support from others. The combination is truly amazing. I’m grateful to my niece for reminding me just how simple it really is. Just one phrase: need help.