I have had the honor and the pleasure of speaking in different places around the country lately. During one talk-turned-group-conversation in a room packed full of beautiful, brilliant, powerful women and men, there was a sweet, competent, capable soul who asked, “Were there people who helped you climb out of your rock-bottom pit of despair after leaving the U.S. Air Force Academy?”
The question made me pause for a beat. It felt far bigger than the inquirer’s words had implied. A warmth filled my chest, and I realized that what they were truly asking was, “how did you ask for help?” And that just may be one of the most profound questions that any of us driven, intelligent, goal-oriented humans can ask.
How do we ask for help...?
In my case at USAFA, I had had such ambition, such a “pull yourself up by your bootstraps” feeling of personal and professional responsibility, that asking for help was simply not an option in my head. As the consummate empath and people-pleaser, I absolutely did NOT want to “burden” anyone else with things in my life, in my memory, in my experience that would distract them from utter joy in their life. So, I kept my mouth shut about things with which I was struggling. I tried to keep my heart shut to them as well—I tried to compartmentalize them from my own consciousness so that I could function, carry on with my business at hand, and frankly, just “get over it.”
BUT, THERE IS NO LIFE-HACK AROUND HUMAN EMOTION. WE MUST GO THROUGH TO FEEL BETTER.
The shrapnel of guilt, shame, fear and pain that I had been feeling after losing my sister as a child, after being violently sexually assaulted, after my dream of graduating from USAFA exploded in my hands, corroded the compartments that I had tried to lock so tightly in my mind, my heart, bleeding their toxicity all over myself, my relationships, my life as I had known it.
COMPARTMENTALIZATION IS UNSUSTAINABLE.
Traumatic things that we try to stuff away instead of working through inevitably rear their ugly heads, and manifest in some way—be it a vice we use to soothe ourselves, our sabotaging of relationships, personal injury or suffering illness—life always seems to provide us brilliant, if not painful, opportunities to work through what we have not.
So. In answer to the question posed, it took me a long time to realize that none of us do anything alone. LIFE IS A CUMULATIVE, COOPERATIVE, COLLABORATION. We affect one another in every moment. So when we are struggling, those around us are aware of it. Those around us are effected by it. Those around us are already invested and involved. We don’t realize it, but in this space, we have actually already started energetically asking for help. So the moment that we acknowledge our fear, face that which we have been avoiding, and embrace the open hearts surrounding us, THAT is when we become ready to ask for help out loud. When we surrender to the fact that we are ALL human, we ALL have our stories, we are ALL in this together, we open ourselves to the pinnacle of what we came to experience on earth...TRUE CONNECTION.
We all want to create in this lifetime, we all want to feel amazing, we all want to experience the exponentially expansive collaboration of working together. And to do that, we innately want to support one another.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
Polo REO Tate was born in Lansing, Michigan, where her family has deep ties to the community. Her Great Great Grandfather was Ransom Eli Olds (R.E. Olds), a pioneer and prolific inventor most notably responsible for inventing the first internal combustion automobile—the Oldsmobile. Growing up, [...]