Have you in the recent past felt vulnerable, felt you were not sure, did not have the answers, filled with emotions, felt that google was not good enough and was determined to seek help from a person instead?
When is the last time you called someone and asked for help to deal with a dilemma or challenge or feedback or a difficult relationship or an unhelpful behaviour or a sticky situation or habit?
Let me start with myself. In the last six months, I have met a counselor, had conversations with at least two peer coaches in addition to seeking out the support of my friends on a wide variety of matters that were important to me or troubling me.
And how did all this help me help others?
At the core of my interactions with people from whom I sought help were deep moments of vulnerability, moments of getting in touch with significant parts of myself, moments of realization. Those very moments of deep vulnerability and realization generated the energy in the form of empathy, sharable insights and the motivation to listen, understand and give. The imagery is of striking oil by digging deep.
To be able to get in touch with my own vulnerabilities has almost always strengthened my ability to help others. It is the well spring of energy.
On the other hand, if I were to imagine a world where I see myself as perfect, all sorted out, evolved, the imagery that comes to my mind is of walking on thin ice – looks smooth outside but ever fragile, ever transient, likely to cave in any time, creating feelings of anxiety. And the relationship that emanates from this place is of “I am absolutely fine, and you are the one that needs help.”
I would like to think of this another way – as a coach, I am constantly encouraging my clients and coachees about the benefits of seeking help and see the place of others in their growth and wellbeing. Yet, if that very experience is alien to me, how incongruent does that seem? How credible is my plea likely to be?
None of our lives can be described as ceteris paribus. Everything is changing, we, our relationships, the people around us, our priorities, others priorities, our evolution, others evolution and the world at large. So, the place of another person in our efforts to cope with this ever-evolving state cannot be underestimated.
If we are helpers and coaches, seeking help must be a practice we are comfortable with and have been experiencing periodically.
If we are helpers and coaches and we believe and propagate that change and exploration calls for vulnerability, the question to ask is if I can and have been comfortable with my own vulnerabilities.
On the other hand, to believe that one needs to be perfect to help another person is a myth and even an unnecessary burden.