Why do we always think we need to do everything ourselves?
I’ve thought about this a lot lately, having spent a significant amount of time by myself in the last few months. Of course, there’s a sense of freedom to it, being self-sufficient and independent, but it’s not easy either.
I have to constantly remind myself that I don’t have to be such an extreme perfectionist all the time, and that I don’t always have to do things by myself—because I don’t know everything, and I don’t have all the answers. Facing my own ego and accepting that it’s okay to ask for or accept help isn’t easy either. So often we get so caught up in our own stuff, we forget that we’re not the only ones living on this planet. But it’s a constant process—and a humbling one at that.
It’s funny though, the tough act we put on. Pretending we don’t feel things. Pushing those feelings of insecurity, loneliness, vulnerability, or whatever it is deeper and deeper. Bottling them up. Taking on too many things, when we know what we really need is to ease up and slow down. The constant need we feel to succeed, to be the best, to have it all. Feeling this pressure to do everything ourselves, but then feeling miserable and complaining throughout the whole process.
And to top it all off, saying no to help when it’s offered. Kind of twisted, right? We don’t accept the vulnerability. Thinking perhaps that if we don’t succeed, we are nothing. That if we don’t do everything, and then just one more thing, we are failures.
Our society has taken this masculine energy thing to the extreme. Influencing us to see vulnerability as weakness, to reject help from others, and to only show our toughness, our strength, our drive. There may be a time and a place for these things, but I think we need to embrace our softer, more vulnerable sides too.
We don’t always have to be so tough. We don’t always have to live so much in our own ego. We don’t always have to do things alone. I know we’ve all heard this before, but there truly is strength in numbers. Perhaps in some way, we humans like this pity or praise—or whatever we get from others—when they see us doing all the things. We like to be built up and to feel like we are superpeople, but I think we are superpeople regardless of what we do or how we do it. And superpeople need the company of other superpeople. We are in this together.
I’ve had my own challenges in accepting help and vulnerability. It wasn’t easy for me to begin opening up about my eating disorder, acknowledging that I had a problem, and finally starting my own healing journey. I had to be ready, but I didn’t do it alone. I couldn’t do it alone. It’s hard to be vulnerable and to listen when help is being offered because we think we don’t need it, or we just aren’t ready. Sometimes I get so caught up in my own head, in my own ego, that I don’t even hear it when it’s offered. That was definitely the case for me when I was really struggling.
But it’s a humbling process. Admitting to myself that I can’t always do everything alone. I will learn, and I will grow, but I won’t know everything or do everything. I need help and want help too. We are here for each other, to build community, to support, and to help each other. It may seem obvious, but it’s so important.
We’re all on a different path, but I believe it’s a collective one. In one way or another, we’re all connected. And this readiness to accept help and vulnerability will look different for everyone—whether that is to heal on a deeper, more emotional level or a more surface level, like accepting an offer from someone to carry one of your five grocery bags.
Whatever it is and whatever way it is, perhaps we would all benefit from at least noticing our thoughts and feelings around help and vulnerability. Do we close off? Do we get uncomfortable? Maybe even frustrated or angry? I know I have and still do at times, and this is something I work on every day. It’s a process, but it’s a beautiful one.
Accept help. Accept another human’s kindness. Accept another human’s generosity. And perhaps that will inspire you to pay it forward in some way. I believe in giving and service as ways to heal ourselves and our planet, but I think this acceptance is really important too. If we aren’t ready to accept help when it’s offered, then how can those who do give even move forward in their service?
Author: Mia Kataisto
Image: Author’s own
Editor: Yoli Ramazzina
Copy Editor: Catherine Monkman