Asking for help should not be an ancient secret. image: panicdoctor.com
This past weekend, I went on an all women retreat. I was showered with support and inspiration and I came home feeling like a million bucks, ready to take on the world. But let me be clear about something. I’m not normally one to go on these kinds of things but what Feng Shui has brought to my attention as a Westerner is that we don’t ask for help as much as we could or should. If you think about it, Asian and various other cultures create their communities around extended family and friends. Need someone to watch your kid? Covered. Need some advice? Got it. Run out of salt? Just ask.
As a woman, it may be easier to ask for advice or to rely on our friends for support. Personally, I find it more challenging to ask for help in my professional life than in my personal life. Who wants to look “incompetent” or “weak” in the work arena? I’m sure this rings even truer for men. They’re told: Be self sufficient. Suck it up. Figure it out. Don’t let them see you sweat.
When is all this madness going to stop? Well, as usual, I have some ideas about it.
In Feng Shui, there is a section of the Bagua (a.k.a. the Feng Shui compass, see image below) called the “Helpful People” or “Benefactors” section. I know, hard to believe since we are not a society conditioned to ask for help. But let me repeat this, the Chinese have a WHOLE section of the Bagua dedicated to Helpful People/Benefactors. That’s right, whether you are a man or a woman, it is not frowned upon the ask for help. When I reveal this to clients, there are varied reactions. Confusion. Amusement. Disbelief. Relief.
Asking for help is like developing a muscle. It may not be easy at first but with repeated effort, it will become second nature, allowing you to reap great benefits and create a supportive community where you need it. You may even find out that others were looking for the same but were not willing or able to take that first step.
Align the bottom of this Bagua with the door of your space. The Benefactors section is the bottom right hand corner of your space. Image: Feng Shui Creative
Here are some tips for bringing more Helpful People into your life where you may need it:
1. Clean it up! If your Helpful People/Benefactors section is a mess, you gotta take care of it. Nobody’s gonna help you if you can’t get your ahem, stuff together. So start tossing, shredding, packing. You need to make room to allow the help to come in.
2. Set it up. If you lean toward the spiritual and have an altar, think about setting up your altar in your Benefactors section of the room. If an altar is not your thing, think about putting up an image of someone who has supported or inspired you in the past such as a parent, mentor, etc. You can also put an image of a person you don’t know personally. I won’t tell you how many times I have seen images of Steve Jobs in the Benefactors area. It runs the gamut folks.
3. Be creative. You can apply the Bagua to any area. Therefore, your Benefactors section can be where you choose - in your bedroom, your cubicle, even your desk. Find the lower right hand corner of any of those spaces and put something that represents Helpful People there. Be inventive. If it’s your desk, you can tape an inspirational quote in that area from someone you admire. The point is that when you see what you have set up, you will be reminded that you are not alone, opening up the path for help to come your way.
4. Organize a Mentoring/Buddy community. At work, organize a mentoring event then set up the brainstorming activities in what section of the room? Yup you guessed it, the Helpful People section. In your personal life, gather a group of friends to help each other out. Are you good at organizing? Help someone clean out their garage. Are you a tech geek? Help them set up their Pinterest account. Helpful People goes two ways.
So the next time you feel discouraged, alone or just don’t know where to start, look up and look around because help is closer than you think. It just takes breaking out of social norms while sprinkling in a bit of creativity and organization.