“A problem shared is a problem halved,” a friends Mum once said to me.
This was many years ago, I was barely out of my teens and struggling with the messiness of growing up.
I sat sobbing at her kitchen table, pouring my heart out quite literally as tears dripped all over the floral tablecloth.
Since then I’ve repeated this same heartfelt message to countless people who’ve bravely opened up to me, trusting me with their stories and looking for guidance through life’s ongoing challenges.
I’ve also developed a deeper appreciation for the power of sharing our problems and revealing our messiness to people we trust.
Let me back up for a moment first and clarify something important.
I still don’t enjoy asking for help and discussing my challenges feels awkward. So please don’t for a minute think the advice I’m about to give comes easily to me. It doesn’t.
It does however offer me enormous relief and clarity when I’m stuck in a roundabout of thought. When I’m in a repetitive negative pattern, that’s getting me nowhere, and I can’t seem to find my own way out.
That’s when the power of asking for help comes in.
I believe in collective wisdom and the strength of communion. I’ve witnessed time and time again the power of women lifting each other out of the depths of confusion and despair to levels of understanding they couldn’t reach alone.
A problem shared is not only a problem halved, it’s a problem explored and deconstructed to become solvable.
Once a problem is exposed you’ll quickly receive advice. Well meaning suggestions from people with a different view, with less emotion in the game and with the benefit of different life experiences and wisdom.
Listen to their suggestions with curious ears. Be willing to explore a new perspective and eager to move from your stagnant state.
Then trust your own instincts, your heart and gut, acting only on what feels right for you.
Where things go wrong is when the listener assumes too much and doesn’t truly understand the problem for you. When they are keenly offering advice and not truly listening.
Which is why I will always say advice is simply that, advice. It’s not a rule or a have to. Take it if its useful and leave it if it’s not.
And always be selective, sharing your problems only with those trusted souls who’ve earned passage to your inner sanctum.
And if someone is sharing with you, remember its a privilege. Give them your full attention. Kick any judgement to the kerb and support them to find their solution. The way forward that lifts them up and feels good to take.
We all need help sometimes. Connection and communion is what feeds our souls.
This is your one great life, don’t waste a moment stuck in a dreaded problem or lost in confusion about what to do next.
Ask for help. Seek advice. Explore your problem. And believe there is always another way forward.