It is my opinion that humans did not evolve to live as rugged individuals, living lives of solitary existence and meeting all of our own needs in a vacuum. And yet, there can be such a focus on self-reliance that the concept is taken to an extreme and we tell ourselves that we should be able to do it ALL… to be a good cook, a sound financial planner, to know what types of exercises are best for our bodies, to have the discipline to meditate daily, to grow our own food, to DIY our lives.

This isn’t an issue for everyone, in fact I also believe that this concept exists on a spectrum and that there are people who don’t believe they are capable of much at all by themselves, and they stay within the safety of the harbor their entire lives (yes, yes, I was an Outward Bound instructor and I tear up every time I share the analogy of leaving the calm waters of the harbor, flying the blue peter flag, fully equipped and ready to go “outward bound”).

However, on the opposite end of the spectrum do we not find the perspective that “I am supposed to be able to [fill in the blank]”?

I have shared with many clients that when I began private practice and took the leap into being my own boss, I envisioned that during my newly claimed free time I would get into the best shape of my life, become a natural marketer and easily promote my own business, practice more yoga and mindfulness, cook more and generally have more motivation to achieve all of my goals. In reality, without the external structure of an employer, I struggled with achieving much at all. I was sleeping in later than I had in years, getting to the end of a day and wondering where it had gone. It was during this time that I reached out to my friend, Becca Lee, who had started her own business of personal health coaching, and asked for help. I needed some form of structure from somebody other than me. Her weekly strength training plans changed everything.

This was over five years ago, and I still need the reminder at times: I need help. We all do… we need to live in community, to lean on one another. And so while I don’t question paying for help when it comes to car maintenance or completing my taxes, there are areas of my life that are more difficult to admit that in fact, yes, I do need help. Marketing my business is one of these areas, so is learning a language. So why not apply this lens more generously? Especially when I remember that my livelihood is based upon the willingness of others to ask for help. Perhaps as a therapist that is super obvious, but even in your role, whatever it is you do in the world, however you participate in our global community…. aren’t you helping someone achieve something? I would call that help. And so if you are a helper, I would like to ask, who is helping you?

Offered by Sommerville Johnston, MA, LPC, SEP, RYT 200

Sommerville is a Licensed Professional Counselor, Somatic Experiencing Practitioner, wilderness guide, yoga instructor, and founder of ARC. She is passionate about facilitating opportunities for individuals and groups to connect with the natural world, to explore their inner-landscapes, and to discover within themselves a strength and beauty more powerful than they previously knew. She has worked in the mental health field since 2010 and in the outdoors since 2000, incorporating curiosity, humor, deep compassion, and respect into her various roles. Sommerville enjoys exploring the trail, rock, and water of her home in the Southeast, as well as continuing to learn from new places and people around the world.

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