No matter how smart you are, you don’t have all the answers! Have you ever watched someone who does not have access to GPS get lost? There is no shame in asking for directions.
In fact, it is just plain silly and a bit stupid to be so independent that you do everything by trial and error. This same concept applies to life situations that go to the heart of why people get stuck in their lives. You don’t have to figure out and do everything yourself. Why doesn’t anyone offer to help? Maybe it is because no one knows you need help.
Sometimes there is this little voice in our head that say “you should be able to do it yourself”. But, that little voice can get us into a heap of trouble.
The ultimate example of this is illustrated in the rather sad story of when my sister, Mary was in the hospital with a recurrence of breast cancer.
Mary was brilliant, a Ph.D. organic chemistry professor. She had the good fortune of being hospitalized where she was aided by many of her former students who became nurses at the local hospital.
I lived over a thousand miles away, but came to her unsolicited as I knew she would never ask. As I entered the hospital room I overheard a nurse lecturing Mary to “Hit the call button. And ask for help right away.”
Asking for help right away
The nurse was upset that Mary sat in a very uncomfortable and unsanitary way too long. Mary had been just waiting for a nurse to come along and help, but she did not want to be a bother. She believed she should be able to overcome obstacles by herself.
The fact was that what she did by waiting made the nurse feel bad.
Taking this further, Mary was moved to a rehab nursing center. It was her second day there when I came in from lunch. In desperation, Mary cried that she could not take it there, that she had to get out or she was afraid she would die there. It was a plea for help! She was desperate.
So what would it take for her to get out of the rehab nursing center? It really all boiled down to getting from the bed to the bathroom and back on her own.
We talked about how she was learning in rehab –what to do to get out of bed, building up her strength, how to anchor her body and where.
I asked her to think about the exercise, the very specific body movements she needed to make to get from the bed to the bathroom. To go over it all in her minds eye at night when she could not sleep.
Mental practice produces real physical results.
Being able to visualize it, Marie felt like she got some control back into her life right then and there. I could see it in her face. She said “That’s all I have to do?” In a short time, she was able to go home to her beautiful garden. She wanted at least one more summer in her garden. She had two.
But to make this happen she had to start by asking. Then talk, think about how, and act. Having a goal helped also — an interim goal of getting to the bathroom helped with her ultimate goal of being in the garden in her own home.
There is a fascinating book, The Brain That Changes Itself by Norman Doidge, M.D. Dr. Doidge and the subject of neuroscience were featured on PBS’s The Brain Fitness Program. Chapter 8 of the book – “Imagination” talks about mental practice and how it is very effective even when physical practice is not possible. Check it out!
Ironically, God was directing my reading, too. It was just the night before the events of the story that I had read the book and learned how much mental exercise can help.