Backpacks Full of Rocks & Helping Hands: Late Night Musings on SeEking Advice

In the last couple of days, I started reading Amanda Palmer’s book, The Art of Asking or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Let People Help

After watching her exceptional TED Talk, I immediately picked up her book after being drawn into her story and level of boldness.

I’m only a few chapters in, but every time I pass my kitchen table and see the book sitting there, I feel driven to go out there and do something and seek advice. (Love books that can do that.)

I often think about setbacks I’m dealing with as my problem. This is my burden to bare. This is my problem to solve.

My my my.  

I treat problems like I treat my kitchen table — something that’s mine. Problems are something I have to deal with (which is true), but I also clinging to the assumption that I have to deal with it alone (which is not true).

And so I’ll fight, and fight, get overwhelmed and discouraged, pick myself up and fight and fight etc. All the while, if you took one look at me, you probably wouldn’t even notice anything going wrong. Perhaps if you got really close, you could start to see the cracks in the mask, but beyond that, everything would look normal. However, if you could take a ride inside my brain — like you’re in a magic school bus — you would see multiple internal battles taking place. 

I have a strong feeling most of us live like this.

We internalize our struggles, pain, stress, worry, frustration and basically either fix it, mask it, and or live with it.

These internal battles manifest in millions of ways: 

Overeating, self-sabotage, anger, addictions, apathy, hard work, reckless abandon, success, sometimes even violence. 

And as much as our problems are ours to solve and to *own* — who else is going to care about resolving them most than the person experiencing them firsthand? — our problems are not our burden to bare alone. In fact, problems are meant to be shared.

The fundamental core value of friendship, family and belief in a high power is relying on something other than just yourself, and finding peace through the collective human condition of being apart of something bigger..

The moment I focus on helping others, my pain vanishes from my mind. Is the pain still there? Of course. But by focusing on the care and concern of someone else, you’re not dwelling on your own struggles — you’ve taken that weight off your shoulders — rather, lifting someone else up from there own.

Personal pain is the equivalent of carrying a large backpack full of rocks. The more you think about it, the heavier the bag feels. The more you try to move, the more resistance you encounter. Helping others up is as if you are reaching out your hand and picking and dusting them off from the ground. From your perspective, you really didn’t do much. But to them, you did something life changing. What cost you next to nothing completely altered the course of someone’s life. Do it enough times and you forget all about your backpack full of rocks. You might even not realize that with each step of the way, the person you helped took a rock out and cast it away.

And when you need help yourself: Ask it.

Seek advice, seek insights, seek experience. There's is nothing shameful or embarrassing about asking for help. The only embarrassing thing is that you didn't ask sooner.

Stay BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner 

PainJosh Waggoner