A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a post incorporating “rules” from NCIS, one of my favorite shows. After posting “Sometimes You’re Wrong”: Rule 51 & Weight Loss, I realized I’d not mentioned probably THE most important rule: Rule #28 “If you need help, ask!”
While we really don’t need to think of this as a “rule,” the concept alone is incredibly important in our lives, whether it’s weight loss or not. Not asking for help is what gets so many of us in trouble and usually it’s our own fault. I don’t want to assign blame (as attorneys say) mainly because we don’t ask for help because we don’t realize it’s an option. Obviously, if you’re moving a sofa, you ask for help because there is no way one person is going to be able to carry a sofa and unless you’re pushing it to another spot in the same room, you’re going to need help. But when it comes to things like weight loss, it’s not like your friends and family can do it for you! “I’m totally on my own here! Right?”
Not necessarily! While you can’t ask your family to not-eat those marshmallow peeps for you, you can ask them not to eat them around you. I know my Rule #52 post was about not expecting your family to eat the same things you eat and not making “rules” about what they can bring home, so it might sound like I’m back-tracking a bit here, but it’s okay to ask for help even if that help is “please don’t eat the Oreos I love in front of me.” It’s one thing to make rules but it’s another to ask for someone to be considerate, which means you have to be considerate too! If your family is having movie night and everyone’s eating popcorn, you may have to sit on your hands to keep from eating it yourself because making a rule that “no one eats popcorn in front of dad!” is unfair to the rest of the family. Ordering everyone not to eat snacks after dinner is inconsiderate to everyone in your home; asking them not to do it in front of you is a little different, and sometimes it means that you have to bite the bullet and resist your cravings, as in movie night.
Of course, asking for help means you need to admit that you need help controlling your impulses with foods like those. For some people, that’s a hard thing to do. Just asking for help for anything is hard for some people including me! It means admitting that you can’t do everything on your own. Really, I don’t know why that should seem so hard, but as I just admitted, I have a problem doing it! “No I don’t need any help washing my pickup!” “No I can wrangle both these crazy dogs on my own!” “No I don’t mind going out to Chinese- I’ll be okay!” And I am okay with the Chinese, until I start munching on the fried won tons! So maybe asking them not to order those would have been a good idea…
For some of us (like me), being independent is pretty important. I remember I severely sprained my back one summer moving a bookcase. It never occurred to me to ask for help- I was just sliding it three feet down the wall! Over the years, I’ve come to realize that not asking for help is literally asking to do things the hard way. No one can be expected to know everything or do everything on their own and to expect someone to do it all on their own is frankly unreasonable. I know that and I really like helping others, but when it comes to asking for help myself, welllll I’m not so good at it. I have to remind myself that asking for help is not the same as saying “I’m incapable!”
For a lot of people, asking for help where information is involved is equal to saying “I’m not smart enough to find out on my own!” We’ve all met people like this: they’re the ones who ‘know everything’ about a topic even though it’s fairly obvious that they didn’t until you brought it up. Admitting ignorance is not the same as admitting stupidity! When I was a teacher, I’d regularly meet students who were afraid of asking a ‘stupid question.’ I would always tell them the only stupid question is the one you don’t ask, because if you thought of it, so did someone else!
When I went to work for a probate attorney, one of programs I needed to use was Excel, of which I knew nothing other than it’s the green icon on my computer screen. I went out and bought Excel for Dummies. (I usually recommend Nutrition for Dummies when people want to eat healthier.) I’d had some experience with those books and a hallmark of their set up is that they assume you know nothing about the subject of the book. That was pretty much my starting point! What surprises me the most when I recommend them is how often people are offended by the title or embarrassed on my behalf when I tell them I read it. There is no shame in admitting you don’t know everything about a topic! Don’t forget that wisdom begins with a question! Years later I am now fairly competent in Excel, though by no means an expert, but I’ve made worksheet that we use for calculating our settlement costs. It adds up our fees and costs, subtracts them from the settlement, shows the net settlement and reconciles the amounts. It does what I need it to do and it’s something I put together myself in about half an hour. When people ask me ‘what class did you take?’ I tell them it was a Dummies book and they look shocked or offended. I’m not: I didn’t know how to do it and now I do! Why should I be embarrassed?
Asking for help is hard. I still remind myself. That’s how I came to be writing this blog and this post in particular. I started this blog was to pass on information I’ve learned over the last couple of years because if I had known most of this stuff when I was in my 20’s or 30’s, I would not have gained nearly 440 lbs! There was no almost no information available beyond naysayers who were too busy promoting the low-fat, high-carb diet aka the Diet That Nearly Killed Me! As for this post in particular, I have a lot of boxes and furniture in my house that need to be moved around and I finally that if I’m going to get it done without hurting myself and in a reasonable time frame, I’m going to need some help doing that. I bit the bullet and asked my dad if he could bring his dolly and truck to help me out. While I was ‘rationalizing’ why it was okay to ask for help, I came across Gibbs’ rules and while reading through them again, I saw #28 “If you need help, ask!” Duhhhh. Asking for help or information is not admitting weakness or stupidity: it’s common sense! It’s how we learn to do anything and it’s how we get things done. It’s true when it comes to moving furniture, learning a program, losing weight and even building stronger bonds with your family. Even if your family never decides to ‘eat healthy’ as a group, asking them to help you lose weight can strengthen bonds and create a sense of unity. Many times people are surprised to learn that family members are often eager to help. Losing weight is hard enough without having to go through it alone. Why do it the hard way?