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Law of Adaptation III
9/8/2008 - Lia Hadley

Takers Give Taking A Bad Name

(This is the second to last post in this series.)

Everyone know what a Taker is. We’ve all met our share of Takers in our lives. Some of us have co-workers who are Takers; people who wouldn’t know what a Fair Share is, if it hit them in the face. Some of us even have friends or family members who are Takers. If they don’t steal the clothes off your back, they feel no shame at dumping all of their emotional garbage on you, or draining away all your energy with their relentless demands. Basically, Takers give taking a bad name.

Over the last months, I’ve been talking to friends and family about this concept of give and take as a way to adapt to life’s circumstances. It is very obvious that all of the women I have been talking to are uncomfortable with the concept of taking. The idea of asking for help, stating what they need and when, is paramount to asking them to participate in some deviant form of sex. Actually, they would probably prefer the later.

Here are three examples of circumstances that my friends cannot master on their own and when I made a suggestion of asking others for help, they initially rejected these possibilities. Only after much discussion and persuasion did they agree to at least consider acting on the suggestions.

Case 1

My dearest and oldest friend (meaning we’ve been friends for 35 years now) immigrated to New Zealand about four years ago. They (she, her husband, and two children) set a goal to come back to Europe to visit family and friends in 2010. Now, with the weak American dollar causing havoc on their jobs and financial situation in New Zealand, she fears they will never be able to afford a trip back home. I suggested to my friend to ask her friends in Germany if they would be willing to help them pay for train fares or B&B costs during their stay here.

My logic is, if I know they want to come in two years time and if I start setting a bit of money aside now, then I am sure I can save up a few hundred Euros to help them. I’d far prefer to do that and be able to actually see them after so long, than never see them again because Europe is just so expensive.

Case 2

A friend of mine lives on her own. She is experiencing a lingering summer flu that’s left her running from her bed to the bathroom for days now. I offered to make some soup for her or do some grocery shopping. She insists that she has enough in the house. Only after more probing, does she admit that she has not had anything warm to eat in days.

Case 3

My sister is keeping care of our dear uncle, who is dying. She sits for hours each day holding his hand and inwardly, spiritually helping him to breathe. I suggest that she ask my brother and his wife to come down and give her a few days rest. I suggest coming over from Germany to give her a week’s rest. Once again, as in the other two cases, much persuasion is needed to convince her that even though she feels personally responsible to stay by my uncle’s beside, there are other people out there willing to help.

In all three cases, the person in need, initially, felt great resistance to asking for help. They would prefer to continue along their path of isolation, illness, and emotional strain, than admit to those who love and care for them they need a helping hand. What would you do in the above-mentioned situations?

I think we all, as of a certain age, have to start reflecting why we are not able to indicate our needs. Not knowing whom to ask, or when, or how, is just not smart. It doesn’t make sense. When was the last time you asked someone to help without feeling embarrassment, shame, or desperation?

10 Comments From Other Members
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9/8/2008 Anne Mudd from Wheat Ridge CO wrote:
I would help without being asked.
9/8/2008 Susan Terbay from Dayton OH wrote:
Last summer I hit upon a difficult financial situation and needed $300 to get caught up - while the amount wasn't outrageous - for me it could have been $1 million - I hate to ask for help - I think in the back of my mind it speaks of failure or worse - refusal. I told six dear friends of my situation and whatever they could give would be wonderful and each one responded in their way - with no strings attached to their giving - telling me that if the roles were reversed I would help them and I would. We deny others a chance to do something good when we fear asking for help.
9/8/2008 Joyce Norman from Birmingham AL wrote:
Lia, I learned one of the above lessons last year and I believe I am a better person because of it. Downsizing at the university where I was Senior Writer, cost four of us our jobs. This caught me totally offguard! Months went by and I began feeling the lack of a monthly check. My longest and closest friend would ask, "You would let me know if you needed something. Right?" I mumbled, "Sure" but never intended to ever ask. One day she appeared and said, "Let's go." We went to a movie (with me protesting) and then to dinner. I told her I just couldn't take her money. She reminded me of the
9/8/2008 Joyce Norman from Birmingham AL wrote:
time when I had helped her when she was very ill. She looked me straight in the eyes and said, "Now, it's my time to help. You'll come out of this (which I did) but in the meantime, just get over it!" She continued to help me out and everytime I would protest she would again say, "Get over it!" That phrase has become one of my little catch phrases and when I do a favor for someone else now, they look uncomfortable and I use the three-words. It's difficult to take when you are used to giving, but I learned a wonderful lesson.
9/8/2008 Suzanne Caplan from PA wrote:
I have learned how to ask both others if they have a need or for myself when I do. I do not feel shame but I do wonder if it will be one and out. They will do what I need and move on. So far, so good. Perhaps, I am cared for.
9/9/2008 Lia Hadley from Luebeck SH wrote:
Anne, it is good to know you would help if asked, but would you be comfortable of asking for help? Susan, I think the trick is realising that part of life is learning how to ask and receive gracefully when we all find ourselves in situations of need. It is not our failure to be in such situations (e.g., yours was wholly unexpected), but our refusal to accept them. You found a smart solution and I'm sure your friends were glad to help.
9/9/2008 Lia Hadley from Luebeck SH wrote:
Joyce, it is good to have such wise and persistent friends. She taught you a great lesson and just your writing about it, is a act of recognition and thanks. Suzanne, that is exactly what I am talking about, to ask without shame and to give with a generosity of heart. These two simple things make life much richer.
9/9/2008 Maria Main from Burlington CT wrote:
I will admit it is hard to ask for help at times.There is that feeling of being "independent" that you don't want to lose. After all isn't that what your parents were trying to develop in you as you grew? I floundered for a bit and even asked for help "for my children" when I was divorcing. Thank God it turned into help for me because I really needed it at the time but couldn't see it. Now I don't automatically refuse offers of help. If the need is there I am gracious enough to allow others to fulfill their "help thy neighbor" obligation.
9/9/2008 Anne Mudd from Wheat Ridge CO wrote:
Lia, yes, I can help without being asked, and I can ask without expectations. I'm comfortable with both scenarios.
9/9/2008 Lia Hadley from Luebeck SH wrote:
Maria, at this point in my life I sort of think of independence as being independence of mind and not so much physical, financial, or emotional independence. Anne, you said it well. I am hoping to find that ease with the issue in the years to come.

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