Have you read my last post “Why I Try Not to Help”? I’d explained that I have become quite mindful of these impulses I have to step in and offer advice or even take the task on myself whenever I see someone struggling. After butting heads with my daughters over sharing some yoga philosophy, I made a commitment to watch for that impulse and to acknowledge that my “helping” can actually deprive them of an opportunity to try something new, to learn, to grow. I must say that it was going well. I’ve stopped myself a number of times; I’ve reminded myself to have faith in the ability of those around me to figure it out. Yes, it was going well. Until yesterday morning, that is.
See, the tables turned rather abruptly yesterday morning. I had computer issues and all of a sudden, I wanted, no needed, help - immediately! My laptop had been acting up a bit over the past couple of days and I’d asked my husband if he could take a look at some point to see why it was sluggish. It’s well worth pointing out that I have a very limited understanding of computers and their associated paraphernalia. Words like modem, router, gigs and cat-5, send a cold chill down my back. I have zero knowledge about this world and very little interest in changing that. So, this morning, when a pop up screen repeatedly kept coming up and blocking my view of the person I was speaking with over Zoom, I started to panic. It can be rather stressful when you see this big yellow triangle with an exclamation point that just won’t go away. Try as I might to listen to and connect with this lady, this pop up was pushing all my buttons.
To make matters worse, I had a number of meetings lined up for the day. All at once, I envisioned my day spiralling into a mess of lost productivity. The instant my meeting was done, I busted out of my home office and practically ran to where my husband was sitting on the couch, laptop in hand, demanding help in a tone of voice that brooked no argument with regard to the urgency of the situation. I thrust the laptop at him and informed him that my next meeting was in less than an hour. The unspoken message was: “You better get working on this, hon’. You’re on the clock.”
You’d think that I would have walked away, grateful to have such a knowledgeable and patient husband. Well, you’d be wrong. Instead, I pushed aside the couch cushion, his coffee cup and his iPad and wedged myself in right next to him. Then, something really strange happened. While he was getting ready to run an antivirus program, I started to google the weird pop up message to see if I could find a way to fix it. I came across recent articles about how this was actually malware that has been affecting Macs. I’d also found a couple articles that explained how to remove the problem. I was troubleshooting computer stuff! I was! Me! Huh.
What’s even stranger - and this is where I hang my head in shame - is that I started feeling rather impatient with my husband for starting up this antivirus program because it meant that I wouldn’t have access to my laptop for a while and wouldn’t be able to test out what I’d uncovered in these articles. My husband was doing exactly what I’d asked (or rather told) him to do. I wanted it done pronto by someone else because I’d told myself that I knew nothing about it and that I was in a time crunch. So why on earth was I annoyed?
That’s when the lightbulb went on and I realized that I had, in my panic to get my laptop fixed for my next meeting, denied myself the opportunity to learn something new and maybe even to gain a bit of confidence that I could find a solution where computers are concerned. Of course, the easiest way for me to justify my actions is to consider the time crunch. I had a meeting in less than an hour, surely that counts for something? Well, it doesn’t. Not really. The antivirus program took almost two hours to complete its scan so I had to push back my meetings anyway.
Did my day spiral into an unproductive mess? Nope. I actually managed to get a lot done that did not require my laptop. It certainly was different than how I’d planned my day but it was okay. My meetings were delayed and things got shifted around but no one was negatively affected by it. On the contrary, I realized that me not rushing to “help” others also extends to me not rushing to hand off my own challenges to others. It was also a very good reminder that I can and should slow down and be receptive to these learning opportunities.
There will always be times when we can use someone in our corner to walk alongside us in our struggles. It is important that we are able to recognize when those moments arise and reach out when we feel we can benefit from someone else’s experience, knowledge and support. In my case though, pausing for a moment and exploring the situation and whether or not I could find a solution on my own would have been a good first step. Make no mistake, I would likely have spent more time fumbling around before eventually doing exactly what my husband did to remedy the issue. Maybe next time, I’ll allow myself that grace period to be a beginner, to expand my knowledge. Ultimately, I think we always have a choice to panic or to breathe and choose a growth mindset.