I have always seen the elderly as the most humble human beings. We know that at some point in our lives, we won’t be able to tend to our basic needs, but we always expect this to happen when we’re older. However, there are times throughout our lives where we experience a feeling of helplessness the elderly must feel, being either physically or mentally incapable of helping ourselves.
That’s why I admire the elderly. They exhibit such humility in having to constantly be cared for. Though, having helped the elderly, I understand how hard it can be to ask for help, how they sometimes feel like a burden. It’s a natural feeling after being so capable all our lives, to find it difficult, and sometimes troublesome, to ask for help.
Asking for Help is Hard
We never fully understand how hard it can be to ask for help until we’re in a difficult situation. When we’re caretakers, we want the person we’re caring for to tell us their needs because we’re eagerly ready to serve and to help them through this difficult time. We just want the person to rest and get better. We want to alleviate their worries.
I’ve witnessed many people I’ve cared for try to complete tasks on their own when they shouldn’t, and I’ve gotten upset at them for not asking for my help. The usual response is “I don’t want to be a bother,” where my response is, “It’s not a bother. I just want you to rest and get better.” This happens not only when people are physically hurt, but emotionally as well.
When a family member passes away and we are offered support from other close family and friends, how often do we ask for help? I know I never asked for help, and haven’t been asked for help by those to whom I’ve offered it who are going through the same difficult time.
Why is it so hard for us to ask for help in these situations when we need it the most? Psychologists say that as human beings we are wired to be independent, and when asking for help we experience fear of surrendering control to someone else, fear of being rejected or seen as “less than.” These are all valid reasons, and reasons why I had a difficult time asking for help.
My Feelings When Asking for Help
A few months ago I was in a car accident. Even though I shared in my blog how I gained Accidental Joy from the situation, I experienced days of frustration, annoyance and depression. I share in my post how initially I felt horrible, but quickly made promises to myself, one of them being that I was not going to be embarrassed to ask for help.
Already understanding how it can feel when asking for help, I made this promise to avoid feeling annoying, troublesome, or even guilty. However, these feelings still arose, and I found myself dwelling on what I couldn’t do. Though I was never embarrassed to ask for help in doing tasks to care for myself, I did have feelings of guilt when it came to not being able to work.
I only ever got frustrated when I couldn’t work as a copywriter or help Little With Great Love. Being broken in my left dominant hand, I couldn’t write and found it very difficult to type. As someone with a strong work ethic, it was painful for me to not be able to work to my fullest capabilities or at all during this time.
Feelings of guilt arose when I had to push my assignments and tasks onto others, making me feel “less than.” Psychologists say that “we don’t want to be ashamed of our situation, or come across as incompetent” when we ask for help. “So we work really hard to make sure people don’t see us this way.” In this situation, being unable to work made me feel guilty, when I shouldn’t have felt this way at all.
As humans, we understand that life happens, and we never blame other people for being physically or emotionally incapacitated. So why should we blame ourselves?
Humbled and Grateful
Reflecting on the first two months of my injury and recovery, I realized I was never embarrassed to ask for help to do basic tasks. It wasn’t until I saw my sister, two weeks after my surgery, and she saw my mom helping me cut my food and take a shower that she told me “how humbling it must be Alyssa, to have to rely on others so much during this time.”
That was the moment I realized how humbling it is to have to ask for help. From that moment on I kept humility in mind when having to ask someone to open a water bottle for me, unzip my wallet, or any tasks that are so simple to do.
My mindset was changed about work throughout this time as well. I already know how important it is for us to take a break or vacation amidst work, but I realized how meaningless writing a report or responding to emails is in comparison to my health. I’m not saying the work we do in our lives is meaningless, as if it has no significance or purpose, but having to work means less to me than my health.
This is something my boss already knows (even though he pushes himself to work when he’s sick) and assured me to take as much time as needed to prioritize my health. I am so grateful to work with understanding people, and value this new mindset.
How to Humble Ourselves
Humility shouldn’t equal weakness in our brains. There are two parts to being humble. The first is being free of pride or arrogance, and the second is recognizing one’s total dependence on God.
Choosing to be humble means recognizing God is the one who provides. The Catholic Apostolate Center says, “Humility is a difficult virtue to embrace because it is such a quiet one and is often mistaken for what it is not… Being humble does not mean debasing yourself and refusing to acknowledge that you have any gifts or talents whatsoever.”
They continue by saying, “The truly humble man understands that he is not the greatest at anything, and that while he is better at something than others might be, his gift ultimately comes from God and is to be used for the glory of God.”
The Saints can teach us best about humility and what it means to be humble, since all the saints had extraordinary gifts that they always credited back to God. Here are some tips and motivation from the experts:
Do you wish to be great? Then begin by being. Do you desire to construct a vast and lofty fabric? Think first about the foundations of humility. The higher your structure is to be, the deeper must be its foundation.”St. Augustine
The soul’s true greatness is in loving God and in humbling oneself in His presence, completely forgetting oneself and believing oneself to be nothing; because the Lord is great, but He is well-pleased only with the humble; He always opposes the proud.”St. Faustina
The most powerful weapon to conquer the devil is humility. For, as he does not know at all how to employ it, neither does he know how to defend himself from it.”St. Vincent de Paul
There is no doubt that God will never be wanting to us, provided that He finds in us that humility which makes us worthy of His gifts, the desire of possessing them, and the promptitude to co-operate industriously with the graces He gives us.”St. Ignatius of Loyola