This is a question I ask myself, my clients, and other humans often…
We, humans, thrive in interdependence yet we are socially and culturally conditioned especially in the western world around valuing independence much more. We celebrate the individual who goes fastest alone and does not need help. Somewhere, we are told that asking for support is a sign of weakness. And then, there are gendered expectations that play into this as well.
I have had my own shame stories in moments where I couldn’t figure something out, solve a problem independently, or felt stuck where I knew partnering with other humans could help me move forward.
Yet, oftentimes, I have internalized the message that I should just work or think harder or manage things on my own to get to a solution. And, when I have given myself permission to ask for help or partner with others to expand my own capacity for who I can be and what I can do I am always humbled by the power of connection, community, and other brains to come at a problem.
I often wonder how much human potential can we unlock, how much compassion can we bring forth in the world and how many more problems can we solve effectively if the right people come together. What would our families, our workplaces, and communities look like if more people had permission to raise their hands and seek support? What if we all had greater capacities to notice when people were struggling and could benefit from another hand. What could our world be if there was less of a stigma associated with interdependence and humans were celebrated for banding together both in times of good and bad.
When I think of interdependence, I see its value in expanding our capacities for both being and doing. I often think about how can I expand my own capacity for empathy, kindness, and compassion? Sometimes, it means reading books written by other humans, watching others demonstrate these skills effectively, and engaging in meaningful dialogue? It means working with a coach who can hold up a mirror to me and show me my blind spots when I am not integrity with these important personal values. Sometimes, it means being in a community with other humans asking seeking similar moments of connection, learning, and growth.
And then there is the doing and I have often asked myself these questions – How can I expand my village in my parenting? Can I humbly acknowledge that breastfeeding was challenging and I needed to see a lactation consultant to support me with my desire to feed my child? Can I go to a trusted colleague and brainstorm a problem that could benefit from both of our brains vs just mine? Can I include a mother’s helper in the home during intense seasons of life to have an extra pair of hands in the kitchen?
I know it takes a lot of surrender, acceptance, and humility to acknowledge our own limits but also see our own potential and invite other humans to bring that to light. It takes courage to notice the limits of our existing systems that seek to keep us small and give us permission to see all our brilliance.
And yet there is nuance…
Sometimes, it is about giving ourselves space and permission to trust our own capacity for change and impact. Sometimes, it is about protecting a raw idea and giving it room to breathe before having the world set its eyes on it. Sometimes, it is about discerning who deserves to come into our space and learn about our story. Sometimes, it is about strong self-belief in own capacities. Sometimes it is about solitude and inner reflection before inviting other people in.
The next time you are stuck, in pain, or have that intuition that there is more on your path, pause and ask yourself who could you be if you invited more humans into your world? Notice, where the resistance is and see if you can sit with it – with curiosity, kindness, and wonder and notice what emerges!
Pic credit – Shane Rounce