The need for help has a funny way of sneaking up on us. We think we’ve got it all figured out and then we realize that we don’t as balls begin to drop. At the point when we become aware of a need for help, we have the choice to see something about ourselves that’s been proven in multiple fields of study; We are not separate from one another.
Whether you’re looking at cultural anthropology or evolutionary psychology, one thing is clear. The origins of human experience show patterns of community, sharing and collaborative support. Humans who survived the harsh elements and daily threats of life did not live alone. Rather they existed in relation to one another and specifically they persisted because of the ways in which they gave and received as a group.
The reason we have always shared resources and support is also a proven fact and boils down to one word: survival. As a species, humans have a prolonged need for support in our growth and go through very specific stages of development. Time and time again, research shows human need is better served by connection than isolation.
My curiosity this week comes from a question. When did humans become so averse to being supported by the help of a collective or collaborative process? It would take more room than I have in a weekly blog to explore this question thoroughly and it has to do with so many things. For today, let’s just tackle how our relationship to help is connected to the rule of law and political concepts such a democracy.
Among all the democratic ideals, I’ve seen this one inhibit people from having a healthy relationship to the human tradition and benefits of support from others aka. HELP. This ideal is individualism. Individualism espouses the ultimate importance of being independent and self-reliant.
Disclaimer: I am a 100% aware that I couldn’t do what I do as a coach of human performance without a healthy respect for individualism, self-reliance and the power you have to change yourself and the world around you through personal choice. And, unchecked complete self-reliance has the potential to be a self-destructive force.
Everything exists on a spectrum. Let’s say someone on the far-right side of a flat horizontal line is at an 8 on a 0-10 scale of self-reliance and individualism. This individual would sacrifice a great deal in the name of individual self-sufficiency to the point of: (to name just a few)
• Excluding others from helping them even when it hurts or creates a disadvantage
• Avoiding established wisdom and requiring themselves to learn on their own
• Feeling only they can know best for themselves (aka. There is no motivating amount of benefit to the wisdom of shared tools and knowledge)
• Subscribing to the belief that they alone must do everything in this life without the help of others for a variety of personally generated reasons.
Despite the variety of cultural messages, we receive that we are destined for individual greatness, it is NOT possible for us to be great solely as an individual. We are always giving and receiving help from everything around us and have been in a variety of ways since the successful survival of our species began.
When you approach the world with an abundance of individualism, it can function to separate you from that very same world. Whether you think it, feel it or know it; separation is an illusion based in a belief, experience or ideal you’ve adapted along the way. Separation is also the way you’ve been taught to understand the world. Every major scientific area of study separates the subject and the object of study from each other in order to connect to deeper meaning of how and why things work the way they do.
In reality, we exchange oxygen in our lungs in order to exhale carbon dioxide which supports a plant’s use of CO2 to create more oxygen. We, along with almost all other living things, eliminate what we don’t need and what we’ve eliminated supports other living organisms. Go smaller (or bigger depending on your view) and think quantum physics which has proven that molecules in one area are able to express and operate as if being connected to molecules in a completely different space.
When we see our connections to each other and the world at large, we can experience help is innate. We are always helping or being helped and with this truth, we can be deliberate and conscious in the ways we give and receive help.
Let’s Get Cooking!
So why not use Self-reliance as the amazing gift of democracy that it is? A source of connection, relationship and support within ourselves and for others. With a healthy amount of self-reliance, we can empower ourselves and each other by knowing our signs of need and openly asking to receive and give the help humans have been relying on since the dawn of our creation.
This week continue to ask yourself, what is help? How am I relating to the idea or experience of help in my life? Where do I reject it and when am I most open to receiving it?
Keep exploring your relationship to help as you add the layer of truth that we are always being helped and helping. It’s a process innate not only to our biological design but also our social, cultural and personal development as human beings.