Here’s a valuable skill that I’ve learned that’s been very valuable. It’s how to talk about your problems without complaining and get help with them. I’ve had a challenging 24 hours. I’m happy I know how to ask for help because I didn’t know this useful skill for most of my life.
Here’s the difference between asking for help and complaining:
Complaining starts from an expectation on the world around you that is not met. Here’s what a complaint sounds like. This stupid phone company increased my bill and now I have to pay all this money.
Asking for help starts from within. It starts from self knowledge and self awareness. Here’s what the same thing sounds like when you’re asking for help. “I saw my phone bill today and I’m not sure if I’m going to have enough money to pay it.”
Do you see how different those two things are? In the first one you’re saying the phone company is wrong with implication they’re all jerks. The world’s out to get you. If you complain about that with someone there’s nothing they can do to help you. In fact, they can reinforce your point by agreeing with you.
The whole issue of what’s going on with you is also what you can change that is missed. You can’t change the phone company. You can’t change what anyone or anything else is doing. You can only change what you’re doing. Your actions can impact other actions, but the intent you deliver your actions with is what you get back. When you ask for help you identify the issues that are going on with you. This is what I do today.
For example, yesterday I was having a challenging day with my wife. My wife was having a tough time and I was not reacting well. I wasn’t being loving and understanding with her. I could phrase that two different ways. I could say my wife isn’t doing this or that – she’s the worst. She shouldn’t be doing certain things. You can see the poisonous energy as I use it to communicate it.
Thankfully, I went about asking for help saying it like this. My wife is having a tough day and I’m not reacting well to it. I’m frustrated, I’m upset, I’m wanting to make things worse, I’m miserable, I’m suffering. I’m telling you about it because I don’t completely want to lose my mind. I realize I love my wife and that she is enough and she’s having a hard time and it’s okay for her to have a hard time. She’s not doing anything wrong. I’m judging her and putting all these things on her. I’m having a hard time I’m frustrated. I’ve cried today and I’ve got angry today and I hope you guys can help.
There’s a huge difference in those two phrases. You can see the second way I’ve explained what was going on with me. What I’ve explained it in a context of there’s something going on here and I’m opening up to receive help with. The nice thing is when you do that people are willing to help you.
The first place I learned this was by going to my support group AA for help with stopping drinking. I had rarely done this in my entire life before and I felt miserable. I was so scared and afraid that I started complaining. My mom is doing something wrong. My dad is doing something wrong. My brother is doing something wrong. The university is doing something wrong. The underlying assumption of life is wrong and I’m right .
I sat down and they ask at the beginning of every meeting “has anyone had trouble staying away from a drink today?” Every other time before that I simply complained about life and then drank. This time, I raised my hand and said yes! I’m having trouble staying away from a drink today. I’m miserable I’m suffering. I hate how things are. I can’t stand how I feel right now. I want to feel different. I can’t handle this. I hate it!
I said that and everyone then offered me help as to how I could help myself and how I could feel better. If I just complained about everything like most of what I did before. I would complain and complain and then try to numb the pain of it. When you tell people what’s going on with you, you’ll be amazed at what they’ll share with you. What they’ll do now is most helpful. What the people did in my AA meeting is said well when I felt that way, this is what I did and this is how it worked. One person told me when they felt like they wanted to drink, they just kept busy.
When you share what’s going on with you, people will often open up and share what’s going on with them. Then, you get whole bunch of ideas of what you can do about it. If you just complain about what the phone company’s doing to you, the best idea you’re going to get is the phone company can shove it. I went home from that meeting with a ton of suggestions. I can try and a ton of things I can test on myself to see if they worked. I shared something similar yesterday except that I was having a hard time loving my wife and I needed love and support.
One guy said he was having a great day today, but he liked when people share what they’re doing while they’re struggling. He used it as a guide for the next time he was struggling. You prayed, you asked for help, you didn’t make it worse, you prayed, and you got through it. When you ask for help, you’ll get real help. You won’t get people just agreeing with your arguments against the world. Even worse, you won’t get people disagreeing with your complaints. How many times do you get people who tried to argue with you and show you how you were wrong? How much did that help? I know I’ve had a lot of people do that for me and it helped a lot.
When I ask for help now, it’s amazing how other people do things. I shared something frustrating I was struggling with with a few of my closes friends. One of them said that he’d already been through that. I can tell you that it’s pretty awful and if you can have the opportunity to not go through that you’re pretty lucky.
How many things have you been afraid of in your life would you have liked to have met someone who went through it? For me, I’ve been afraid of my wife dying a lot. There’s a guy who’s wife is already dead. My dad’s already dead. It helps to share what is going on with you then other people can give laser targeted feedback.
You’ll be amazed people will reveal things to you that you never knew about them. If you’re willing to share from the heart things that are going on with you, then you’ll get that back in kind. If you just complain, what you’ll usually get is people that come back at you.
You’ll complain about your mom to your friend. Your friend will complain about their mom or brother or sister. If you complain about your wife, they’ll complain about they’re wife back to you. I guess I used to complain about my wife because a lot of my friends used to complain about they’re wife’s to me. Now, noone hardly ever complains about their wife to me. Sometimes it takes people a while to adjust if you operate a way different most of your life. Hardly anyone complains about their wife to me now. Most people say “Jerry, I’m having a hard time about this, what do you know about it?”
Today, I pray to remember that I can ask for help in any situation and make things better. I pray to remember the difference between asking for help and complaining. The words might seem a little bit different, but the intent behind the words is massive. I hope to remember that the intent behind the words is everything. I pray that you have the same chance today to see the difference between asking for help and complaining. I pray you have the chance to talk about what you’re going through and seek other people’s experience with it. I’m honored you’ve read this. I value your ideas about future posts I should make. If you have specific things you want me to talk about, I would love to talk about them. I hope you have a great day today.