By MJ Ali
Have you ever been in the middle of trying to do three different things at once and looked around to realize there was no help in sight? What was your first feeling? What did you do? Did you ask for help, or just power through?
Everyone has their reasons for choosing one or the other, and those reasons are often complicated.
I had a boss who practiced interdependence with her team. She identified and supported the strengths she saw in each staff member, and helped us all to develop those strengths and apply them directly to the work we were doing. Jasmine developed a culture of excellence by fostering an environment of mutual support that, in turn, produced unfailing loyalty and resilience. We were doing very difficult work under unbending and uncaring institutional constraints, yet we moved mountains together anyway because we relied on one another and worked extremely well together.
In a not-so-interdependent world, though, we can end up inadvertently creating a cycle of dependence to affirm our existence, or from a need for control. As a result, we don’t engage in interdependent relationships, and end up actually isolating ourselves. That sets us up for martyrdom, always doing for others, neglecting ourselves under the umbrella of “if I don’t do it, no one will” and “I don’t need any help from anyone; that’s my job” that inevitably builds resentment, fatigue, burnout, anger, and toxicity.
We can’t be helpful to others in a healthy way if we’re not helping ourselves, and inviting others to experience the joy of helping us when we need it. Asking for help is not an easy thing for many, so I invite you to try. Ask someone during this holiday season—the stress-out of all stress-outs—to help you with something.
Don’t wait until you’re overwhelmed and ticked off that no one has seen that you needed help but never offered, but genuinely ask someone to help you. Invite them. You may be very surprised to find that they’ve been waiting for you to ask them to engage in interdependence for a very long time. After all, everyone, on some level, wants to feel useful.
Below are links about creating interdependence for businesses, families, friends and caregivers that I hope you’ll find helpful.
And, just one [more] thing: Rick Hanson’s latest Just One Thing newsletter about gifting yourself is very timely.
Happy, Enriching, Loving, and Interdependent Holidays to All!