The idealization of succeeding independently inherent to North American culture creates a major barrier for many people to reach out and ask for support through life coaching. Often when someone inquires about my life coaching services, the first thing s/he says is: “I know, I should be able to figure this out on my own.”
Nobody really succeeds on her/his own. We all receive support along the way from family, friends, mentors, colleagues, teachers, people (living or dead) whose ideas and actions inspire us and even sometimes from strangers. When we look at nature, we discover that nothing happens in isolation. No tree grows by itself. It receives nutrients from the soil, water from the rain, energy from the sun. Since we are part of nature, the same is true for us human beings.
I recently talked with one of my dear life coaching clients who had reached out to me a few years ago with exactly these words: ”I know, I should be able to figure this out on my own.”
It has been an absolute joy to support her on her journey and witness how she transformed her life. When she initially contacted me for life coaching she felt unappreciated, underpaid and overworked. She is now doing the work she loves. She is well-compensated and recognized for her work. When I congratulated her on her incredible success and the way she had transformed her career and her life, she said: “I couldn’t have done it without you! Thank you so much for all your support through life coaching!”
She went on to share that asking for help has become a lot easier for her since receiving my life coaching services. Recently she had painted a hutch in the carport. Though the hutch wasn’t heavy, it was awkward to carry on her own. She watched herself think through all the scenarios of how she could possibly manage to transport this piece of furniture into the house on her own. That would have been her approach in the past. Quickly she concluded that she simply needed to ask for help. She asked her brother in law to give her a hand. It was an easy job for two people and she felt very satisfied and thankful for his support. Of course her brother in law received great joy from being able to help her.
As my client shared her most recent success story of asking for and receiving support, it occurred to me that every time we ask for help, we contribute to creating a new culture. This new culture embraces interconnectedness and collaboration. It recognizes that we only exist in community and that we all need support on our journey.
Here’s How to Open Yourself to receive support:
- Which aspects of your life do you think you should be able to do on your own? Write each of them down. “I should be able to do/figure out/handle/learn ……on my own.”
- Now rewrite each sentence in the following format: “If I shouldn’t be able to do/figure out/handle/learn ….on my own, I would…..” (Fill in your own ideas of asking for help and receiving support)
- Take a moment to appreciate that you don’t have to be a lone ranger and that you can reach out for support.
- Decide which of your ideas you will act on first.
- Follow through with your idea and reach out for support.
- Acknowledge that reaching out for support takes courage and celebrate your success.
- Remember that by asking for help you give a precious gift. After all, it is a wonderful feeling to be asked for support.
Asking for support is a skill that becomes easier with practice. Enjoy receiving support in many ways including through life coaching!
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Julia James is a certified life coach and award-winning author of the book, The Mini-Retreat Solution. With over ten years experience coaching people through positive career transformations, Julia is passionate about helping people connect with their true calling.