A Little Help From Our Friends

Posted by on Apr 18, 2013 in Joy, Kaizen-Muse, Ultimate Blog Challenge | 15 comments

A Little Help From Our Friends

I am going to get straight to the point today, because the Beatles were right: we get by with a little help from our friends.

I’m a product of late 20th-century/early 21st-century American society, and as a product of said society I’ve noticed that we’ve taken the notion of Rugged American Independence and we’ve turned it into a religion. We all firmly believe that we must be independent at all costs. We can’t depend on anyone for anything, because that means we’ve failed. (And we’ve talked about how crazy we all are about failure recently, so we won’t rehash how crazy we get about that.)

Here’s the thing: it’s impossible to be completely independent. Read that again, preferably out loud. I’ll wait.

I’m dead serious when I say that we can’t be completely independent. Think about it for a minute. Who all do I depend on? Well, if you take family and friends out of the picture, there’s still a pretty decent list. I depend on:

  • My employer to pay me each month
  • My condo association to keep the grounds and building I live in in good shape
  • The water company to make sure I can take a shower and flush my toilet
  • Grocery stores to stock the food I buy (and restaurants to cook it!)
  • Jon Hamm to keep making episodes of Mad Men (okay, okay…)
  • Pharmaceutical companies to get me through allergy season
  • The postal service to deliver my mail
  • The police to keep my town safe
  • My financial institution not to lose all my money (eek!)

…and if I wanted to I could probably sit here and list another 100 things I depend on every single day. We all depend on each other; we just tend to forget about a lot of it.

I haven’t even listed the fact that my friends keep me sane when life goes all pear-shaped. That they give me a place to go on holidays or just for fun on the weekends. That they will help me out when things go wrong. They’ll offer me a cup of tea and an ear when I need one. (This, by the way, is the idea behind Muse Song, the muse of self-care and encouragement, from Kaizen-Muse. Nurturing yourself by hanging out with good friends and feeling the love is good for your creativity!)

The same thing is true with family (though in my case, they’re a little farther away). If I really need something, someone I know will jump in and help me. I’m sure you can say the same.

It really is okay to need others.

You know what? I’m totally okay with that, and you should be, too. None of us expect someone who’s been in an accident or has come down with a particularly deadly illness to get by completely on her own. We don’t expect folks who’ve just experienced a significant loss to soldier on as if nothing’s happened—and if they do, most of us worry about them. If you’d offer assistance to someone else when he needs it, you shouldn’t begrudge yourself the privilege of receiving that same assistance when you’re the one who needs help. I don’t especially care for the American Church of Rugged Individualism, especially when it makes people neurotic (or worse) over being perfectly, wonderfully human–which by definition means we can’t do everything ourselves.

Remember what Brené Brown says: we’re all hard-wired for connection. If you’ve been having a rough time lately because you feel like you need help with something but are convinced that you should be able to do it yourself. please lighten up and cut yourself a break. You’re human. You help others, and others help you in return. That’s how it works, and it’s how it’s supposed to work.

And just in case you don’t believe me, I’m depending on Ringo and his friends to remind you. Enjoy!


  1. I think I understand the sentiment behind this post but feel like I must run into different individuals than you do. I find way too many that are more than willing to accept help. Usually financial without conscience or consequences. I guess it’s about striking a balance.

    • Hi, Caroina,

      I’m not talking about freeloaders or scam artists here, which is what you seem to be describing. I’m talking about ordinary, everyday people who have grown up believing that they have to do absolutely everything for themselves and that accepting help from others is a sign of weakness or that they’ve failed. I’d be surprised if you haven’t come across people like this, because they’re pretty much everywhere (and I speak from experience here as one of them, too). These are the people who insist that they’re fine when you know they’re not, who won’t let you reimburse them for something they did for you, who try to do everything themselves even though it’s clearly beyond their capability. American culture idolizes the super-strong, independent hero who relies solely on himself, but it’s an idol that doesn’t really exist in nature. We all need each other.

  2. I agree completely on what you say about now being aware of the help we get from services. They are always there and we take them for granted.
    With age I´m becoming more flexible about accepting help and it being “my turn” :)
    Lovely writing style, fresh and upbeat.
    Paula – Buenos Aires recently posted..How do you wish to lighten up?My Profile

    • Absolutely, Paula! And it’s not just services—often all we need is a little help from a friend. We do tend to take a lot of the help we get for granted, though, which is perhaps the subject of another post! :)

      And yes, I’ve noticed that, as I get older, I relax about a lot of stuff. I think it comes with the territory!

  3. Hi Nancy,

    I see what you are saying about working with others. The way I would put it is to be strong in our own power, and enjoying collaboratively working/playing with others in a way that’s mutually beneficial. Doing it from a place of synergy and everyone wins together, so to speak.

    • Thanks for giving us a different way to look at it, Hemal!

  4. Wonderful reminder of our inter-connectedness — and a great mini-concert too — thanks! :-)
    Paula Farrington recently posted..Crepe Paper & Cardboard, Costumes & Creativity — Junior Junkanoo 2013My Profile

    • Thanks, Paula! We really are much more interconnected than we tend to think, aren’t we? :)

  5. I’m so with you on this one! Interdependence (and dare I add with detachment for “payback”) is a much healthier water to swim in! I’m involved in Coachsurfing, a grassroots movement to change the world via hospitality…. it has helped remind me the world is as full of love as I knew it was.

    • Coachsurfing sounds interesting, Julie! Thanks for mentioning how, yes, the world is full of love (among other good things). It’s hard to remember that if we insist on doing everything ourselves.

  6. I like to think of us as interdependent and not independent because human connections are very important for all of us. Great post.
    Nicki Sanders recently posted..Quality Education: A Permanency GoalMy Profile

    • That’s the perfect way to think of it, Nicki! :)

  7. lovely post, as I also think that many people are becoming increasingly reliant only on themselves, and that is quite a lonely place to be. Broken and dispersed families, and also the internet has a lot to do with it, all the independence and convenience afforded to us through that, does mean that we rely less on others. Your post is a compelling read

    • Jana, I totally agree that the internet has a lot to answer for. I don’t think it’s just the convenience; I think it’s also the fact that surfing the web is a solitary activity and a lot of us can’t stop looking at our various devices long enough to pay attention to the people we’re with. And given the resources available online, surely we should be able to do everything ourselves! We may wish it were true…but it’s not.

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