Challenging people’s blind spots often means that you’re exposing your own. So here is my disclaimer: I fall into each of the categories below at differing stages of my life, even though I consider myself as someone who is constantly looking for ways to grow (for my Myers-Briggs profile tells me so).
Committing to lifelong learning means that you need to be open to help. And feedback. And sometimes, you’re not going to like the truth that you have to face. But being willing to swallow the bitter pill of correction also means that you are allowing yourself to heal from an internal state of mind that is weakening you.
There are three basic states of helplessness that we operate in… any of them familiar?
1. We don’t ask for help: This is the saddest state to be in – when we really need help and support but we don’t ask for it. Maybe we’re too proud to admit that we’re in over our heads, or we’ve never been given permission to be wrong or make a mistake. Perhaps the environment that we’re in (work, social or relational) is toxic or destructive and we’re afraid to ask for help. (This is when we really should reach out for real help).
2. We ask for help (but we don’t really want to change): This is an interesting state to be in because we think that we’re being open by asking for help. However, if we find ourselves resisting helpful feedback (especially if it’s being echoed by a few people that we know has our best interests as heart), then perhaps we’re not really ready to change. Perhaps what we actually want is to have people listen to us moan about things, because playing the victim makes us feel powerful (when it’s actually a powerless state).
3. We ask for help because we are hungry for change: This is the prime state of ‘helplessness’ to be in because at this point, the pain of getting better finally outweighs the pain of staying the same. I love helping people who are in this state because the advice and support falls into good, fertile ground and you can see the fruit of an altered mindset manifest in new, positive behaviour in a few weeks and months.
So which state are you in today? In denial, resistant or open? Know that you will only be able to see real change in your life when you are open to receiving constructive help. Be proactive in implementing whatever systems or tools you can in order to correct faulty beliefs and shift your thinking patterns from negative to positive. Let the people who offer you help enjoy the reward of seeing you grow!
Work week reflection question: How am I standing in my own way of receiving real help that will help me grow?