Religion & Beliefs

Something To Think About Next Time You Feel Like A Complete Twit For Asking

This week's haftorah is one of seven "Haftarot of Consolation", starting on Tisha B'Av and going until Rosh HaShanah. Yes. Right. I've thinking about consolation a little lately, because let's face it, life happens (as I'm fond of saying) and … Read More

By / August 22, 2007

This week's haftorah is one of seven "Haftarot of Consolation", starting on Tisha B'Av and going until Rosh HaShanah. Yes. Right. I've thinking about consolation a little lately, because let's face it, life happens (as I'm fond of saying) and presents moments for us to consider pretty often, if not, you know, constantly. So, bear with me as I stretch this a little for a sec. We all have good days and bad days, invincible days and shaky ones. I think most of us prefer to at least try to solve our minor, day-to-day issues on our own, and most of the time, we do. But, life happens. Sometimes, circumstances overwhelm us, too much crap piles on at once from too many directions, buttons get pushed, and we find the wind knocked squarely out of whatever coping skills we've come to rely on. And, if you're like most of us, friends, family and other loved ones pop up at such times to offer support. It goes without saying that it's very reasonable to expect our loved ones, in such moments of overwhelm, to hug us instead of standing still and doing nothing. We trust them to listen when we need to blow off some steam and reassure us when we feel fragile. Of course. That's part of the deal. We don't keep fair-weather friends around; we keep people that sick with us through good and bad, just as we do the same for them. Right. It's easy, and usually accurate, to call un-supportive people fair-weather friends. But, it might be worth considering that we can be just as guilty, in a sense.

Sometimes it's really difficult to ask for the support you need, especially when you're already feeling thin-skinned and wobbly from all the stress you're under. And, a lot of times, it seems like a lot of conflict arises from this very point. There's a balance to strive for, I think, of reasonable expectation of support to come from our loved ones without having to ask– hugs, a sympathetic ear, etc.– and the responsibility we have to ourselves and each other to ask for support and help when we need it. How many times have you been stressed-out or pissed off or whatever and felt dismissed by a friend? Sure, it's happened to all of us. It happened to me not long ago. I was stressing and fretting and feeling the weight of the world and when I complained, looking for a little support, I felt blown off. And, feeling blown-off, in the moment, made me feel pretty angry. Angry, that is, until I reminded myself I hadn't communicated that I needed anything but to vent. I'd gone looking for support but hadn't asked for it. And well, as far as I'm aware, nobody in my inner-circle is a mind-reader. (Uh, and if any of you are mind-readers, eesh, have I got some explaining to do.)

So, what about asking for help and support? It's brutal sometimes isn't it? Sometimes, asking for help makes me feel like the limits of my proficiencies (and far-from-proficiencies) are pointed out in bright blinking neon aarows for the entire world to see. (And, hello, how uncomfortable is that?) Sometimes it feels easier to just keep stressing and fretting than to ask for help. And, on some occasions, it's hard to accept help when it's offered. We don't want to be a pain in the ass to someone we love, we don't want them to be stressed out like we are right then, right? We maybe deep down fear that asking too much of the people we care for will make them resent us, or, be angry at us, or worst of all, want to avoid us when we need them in the future. But, maybe, the opposite is true? Maybe (not to be all Schmaltzarella on you) asking for help and accepting it when it is offered, in a way, actually helps us better connect? Think about it, for reals. Okay, we feel good when we help people, right? Mitzvot, giving tzedekah, moat chitim, bikkur cholim, all of those kinds of things leave us feeling, kvell-y, uplifted and good, like we've done well and helped push a little tikkun olam into the world someplace. And, on a more micro level, when we do a favor for a friend or family member, we feel good when they express appreciation, even in small ways. Right? Right. So, how whacked out is that this idea comes so easily to us, yet we find it so hard to accept help when it comes our way? And, if you think about it a step further, in doing so, aren't we denying the people who care for us the same opportunity to feel good about lending a hand where it is needed? Sure, we're taking the support being offered us, but in doing that, we're giving to the people we love, in a sense. I mean, doesn't a true mitzvah have to have both parts of the equation (giving/receiving) in harmony for it to be really a mitzvah at all? Sure it does. Also, what about the merit in giving someone the opportunity to do good in the world? Doesn't that count for something? Sure, it does, too. And, if we look at it that way, half the mitzvah is in the asking. Half the mitzvah is up to us.