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The Practice of knowing when (and how) to ask for help

I am one of those people who likes to control everything. I wish “control freak” were too harsh a self-descriptor, but in truth, I fit the definition well. Although my nature can be of benefit in certain circumstances, it can also be of detriment, both to myself and to those around me.

If I want something done a certain way, I have two choices: (a) do it myself; or (b) ask someone to do it for me. It is the latter of the two that type A’s have the most difficulty with. Do I want something done a certain way? Better to do it myself, right? Well, not necessarily.

Firstly, being controlling also can mean being close-minded. Presuming it’s better to always do something yourself means you’re refusing to acknowledge that your way isn’t necessarily the best way. For example, I love to cook. Not only is it a creative outlet, but I also like controlling what I consume. The difficulty comes when I start following my own directive rather than that of a more informed person. As it turns out, my partner’s method of frying the perfect egg is a lot better than my own, which leaves for a runny yoke and a charred pan. It only took me four years of dating him to acknowledge that his technique is superior, and that being open to learning (and loosening my control) is to my own benefit.

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Secondly, doing everything on your own becomes difficult (if not impossible) when you are unable. Take, for example, my recent knee arthroscopy. Although not the worst of operations (if you can even call it that), I am to stay off my feet as much as possible for the first few days. That means I must, by default, ask for help with certain things–or risk hurting myself further.

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Thirdly, not asking for help can actually offend those trying to help you. Rather than ask for help explicitly, which to any control-freak is like pulling teeth, I instead end up implicitly suggesting that the other person should offer me help. “I’m so hungry” is not the same thing as “Would you mind making me breakfast?”; nor is “There’s this event I’m thinking of going to” the same as “Would you mind coming with me / driving me to this event?” Not only are they not the same, but the former method of phrasing can actually be offensive. You are suggesting to the other person that their help is unwanted, but that they should be offering you help anyways. 

So, to all those type-A-control-freaks out there, just remember that the best way to get what is to be open to learning, and to know when, and how, to ask for help. While my knee heals, this will be a big part of my yoga practice.

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