Before my divorce, life was about being the perfect wife, mom, employee, friend and daughter. I put so much pressure on myself and never asked for help. I thought sharing anything I was going through would be a burden on other people. I was always there for others and helping them through their life challenges but never opened up about what I was going through. After my divorce, I went through a lot of counseling. Actually, I still do. A big priority, at the time, was to help me open up to other people and ask for help.
What resonated with me the most with the counselor was that I was “preventing true friendships by not opening up. By not sharing my challenges with others I wasn’t letting those people connect with me.” He challenged me to tell two people my life story. At that point, I had never told anyone my whole story, not even my ex-husband. I chose to open up to my longest friend and the guy I was dating at the time. I shared the circumstances that led to me being raised by my grandparents. I talked about the two years I did live with my mom during my teen years, where we lived in five different places and at times had only a can of green beans for dinner. Both of them were so amazing and made me feel safe.
It made me realize that I was really missing out on fulling connecting with people by not opening up. We have a need sometimes to portray life as perfect, but it never is perfect. The more I work with moms, the more I realize it’s not just me or my issues. We, as moms, have set unrealistic expectations on ourselves. Why do we think we are superhuman and have more than the 24 hours everyone else has?
What are we doing by not asking for help? For example, by teaching the kids to make their own breakfasts, are we preventing them a chance to have some control over their lives and what they eat? Are we preventing them from learning responsibility? Are we missing opportunities to teach the value of helping others and working together as a family? Are we teaching them not to ask for help?
When we stop and change our perspective, asking for help isn’t just about us, it’s about helping others as well.
Recently during one of my Life Balance sessions, the mom was telling me about how only a couple of moms are real and open up about challenges they are going through. I am not suggesting that we share all of our problems with everyone. But why do we pretend that our life is perfect? It isn’t. We need to change our expectations of ourselves. Let’s let other people help in order to really have less stress in our lives. Not being able to ask for help can be very isolating and lonely.
I have two challenges for you this week. The first is to ask for help every day with something. You may have to slow down and take the time to teach or explain how you do it, but you will notice how much your life can be less stressful. We all can get help. We just have to ask.
The next challenge is to open up to at least two people about what is going on in your life. It can be a spouse, friend, counselor or life coach, like me, but just try it as it can drastically change the level of connections and friendships that you have. You don’t have to share your whole story but find something that is personal and start with the words, “can I tell you something that I have been struggling with? It would be a great help to me for you to just listen.” It’s helped me tremendously and my marriage now is so much stronger. We have a stronger bond than I could have ever imagined.
Are you preventing people from truly knowing and loving you? Only you can change that.