Episode 15: Asking For Help in Times of Need with Nora Klaver
Most of us are perfectly willing to offer our help and advice to friends and loved ones -- but few of us are willing to ask for it. Why is that? Is it just that we think we’ll be seen as weak or unworthy? Or, that we’re pitiful because we can’t do it all ourselves? Yet endless studies have documented we all need the medical and psychological benefits of receiving help from others. Deep relationships are built on people helping each other. Our guest today, Nora Klaver, author of Mayday! Asking for Help in Times of Need, will help us fill the gap between what we know and what we do. Nora Klaver is a Master Life Coach and works with people to reveal the answers – that they already know – to the tough questions in life.
What is it that makes it so difficult for us to ask for what we need? Why is it especially difficult for Americans? Why should we ask? What’s in it for us if we take the risk? Nora Klaver answers these questions and more. She tells her own story of how she learned to ask for help and how it changed her life, and she outlines the key emotional steps involved in the process: 1) Having self-compassion; 2) Having faith that things will work out and we’ll get the help we need; and, 3) Feeling grateful.
David Debin: We are The Third Age and we’re here with you talking on the radio, or your podcast, wherever you are listening to us. In America, or online, because we’re everywhere you look. So, you can’t escape us so you might as well listen to the show. This is David Debin…
[Peter Brill and Marissa Scarbossi laughs]
David Debin: …speaking, I’m here with the doctor, Peter Brill. Remember we guarantee on this show, if you listen to us you will never grow old.
Peter Brill: Hello, and I’m the doctor.
David Debin: Oh, good for you!
Peter Brill: I know…
David Debin: Did we wake you up there?
Peter Brill: …it took a lot of years of study to get there. This is Dr. Peter Brill.
David Debin: It wasn’t easy to pick that cue up, was it?
Peter Brill: No, it was a little confusing.
Peter Brill: I’m the doctor of picking up cues…
Third Age usually starts somewhere around 45 or 50. It’s a time to feel a strong desire for deeper meaning and fulfillment in your life. Your first age is childhood. Your second age is building career and family. The third age is a major change or transition into a whole new set of problems, values, opportunities and gratifications. So join us as fellow explorers in this journey to discover what brings passion, purpose and joy into this uncharted time of life.
David Debin: You know, we are going to talk about something really interesting today. Most of us are perfectly willing to offer our help and advice to friends and loved ones but few of us are willing to ask for it. So, why is that? Is it just that we think that we’ll be seen as weak or unworthy? Or that we’re pitiful because we can’t do it all ourselves?
Yet endless studies have documented we all need the medical and psychological benefits of receiving help from others. Deep relationships are built on people helping each other. So, our guest today, who’s Nora Klaver, author of “Mayday: Asking for Help in Times of Need.” We fill the gap between what we know and what we do.
I’m asking you now, doing what Nora Klaver says to do. I’m asking you to stay tuned for a show that could actually change your life. It really could.
Peter Brill: And help us help you.
David Debin: And help us help you and help you help us! We need, we want you to help us.
Peter Brill: We want your help, we actually need your help.
David Debin: That’s right.
Peter Brill: We need you to contact us and we have several ways in which you can do that. You can call us at our phone number which is (805)969-9794. Or you can visit our website which is www.thirdagefoundation.com.
David Debin: Or you can open your window, lean out and scream “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore!”
Peter Brill: Where’s the Third Age Foundation when I really need them?
David Debin: But this is really a great subject. I love this subject. Because one thing that always happens when we work in our Third Age groups, we find that it takes people a really long time to be able to come in and ask for help. Everybody in a group is willing to give help and willing to be there for others. Support others and give advice if it’s requested. But to actually say “Please, I need some help right here.” That’s a difficult thing to do.
Marissa Scarbossi: It makes you really…I guess it puts you at a vulnerable state.
David Debin: Yes it does. But why? That’s the question, why? You know I think…
Peter Brill: Can I ask a question?
David Debin: Yes.
Peter Brill: Would you mind?
Marissa Scarbossi: Sure.
Peter Brill: Because I’ve lost track of this over the years. When you say a vulnerable state. I understand the feeling of feeling vulnerable. What are you vulnerable to?
Nora Klaver: I guess thinking that you’re not as invincible. You know, you think “Oh I am at the stage of my life…” I don’t know - you should be positive and confident, but asking the question that I need help is really like putting yourself at…maybe your getting judged, or something like that.
Peter Brill: So you’re opening the door for someone to judge you. And then what you do is take in their judgment, and that’s what you’re vulnerable to?
Marissa Scarbossi: Yes. That’s what I meant.
Peter Brill: But here’s the question I have for you. Which one is stronger? The person who thinks they have to know everything, in a world where it’s impossible to know everything. You don’t know how to fix your engine. You don’t know how to fix your TV. You wouldn’t know how to manufacture an iPod, would you?
Marissa Scarbossi: No.
Peter Brill: I probably wouldn’t even know how to grow certain kinds of food. Right? None of us have the knowledge in all different areas. We all need each other. It’s very clear. And yet, we feel like we should be self-sufficient. But none of us are.
It’s an interdependent world. And yet, we have this myth. And then when we don’t act self-sufficient, we feel vulnerable. Which is stronger? To admit that you need other people? Or to pretend that you don’t?
Marissa Scarbossi: To admit that you need other people.
Peter Brill: It takes a lot of strength to that.
Marissa Scarbossi: It does.
Peter Brill: To be vulnerable. It takes a lot more strength to be vulnerable than it does to present an image.
David Debin: Talk about somebody who’s not worried about other people’s…
Peter Brill: Is it time? Is it time, David? Is it really time? Now, finally, for the news story?
[sound of gong]
David Debin: For a news story, whose not worried about other people’s opinions. This is about a woman who is in the third, or fourth or fifth age. She’s 102 years old. And she has stripped off for a charity nude calendar, to support her village football club.
Marissa Scarbossi: WooHoo!
Peter Brill: …it’s like that British Film.
David Debin: Right, Goal! Nora Hardwick, who was born in 1905, posed as Miss November behind the bar of the Ermine Way Pub in Ancaster, Lincolnshire reports the Daily Telegraph. The calendar was made to raise funds for the local team, Ancaster Athletics.
[In an high-pitched English accent]
“They draped a bit of cloth around my shoulders. But at my age, I just don’t have the model body to be taking it all off,” she said. “It was all very tastefully done. You couldn’t see any of the bits or anything. I suppose they asked me because I’m the oldest person in the village. And I’m for it if it’s for charity. It’s just a bit of fun, really.”
Miss Hardwick, who already has two great-great-grandchild, said her own children - Maureen, who’s 80, and Janice, 74, and Robert, 62 - have been very supportive. She’s lived in the village since 1933 and was the village postmistress for 35 years before retiring at the age of 72. And now, she’s taking it all off.
That’s pretty good. You’ve got to admit. That’s a good-spirited gal.
Peter Brill: What do you think, Marissa?
Marissa Scarbossi: That took a lot of courage. She definitely put herself vulnerable.
Peter Brill: There you go.
David Debin: That’s a gal with spirit, you know? Don’t slow down.
Peter Brill: How long do you want to be conventional? If I make it to 102, I’m certainly not going to be conventional after that.
David Debin: Right, no, that would be crazy! That would be crazy to be conventional. It’s like that poem with the red…purple bonnet?
Peter Brill: The Purple Hat Society…
David Debin: Purple Hat Society. We were at a party Saturday night, Peter. I don’t know if you remember this but one of the people there…
Peter Brill: We were at a party on Saturday?
David Debin: Yes.
Marissa Scarbossi: Oh-oh…
David Debin: …was a 94 year old woman who was one of the original King Sisters, it’s a family. She’s 94 years old and she, Bonnie King, and she looks fabulous.
Peter Brill: Terrific. Just terrific.
David Debin: I mean looks fabulous, eyes all sparkling and just fabulous. It’s just a matter of the way you look at it
…With Marissa and with Jarin Phelz. And we have a very special guest today, her name Nora Klaver. She is the author of “Mayday: Asking for Help in Times of Need.” Which is really a groundbreaking new book that explores why we don’t ask for help. Why we should, and how to do it in a way that is self-respectful and gracious.
Nora has a Master’s degree in Coaching and works with people to reveal the answers that they already know to the tough questions in life. Welcome to the show, Nora Klaver.
Nora Klaver: Thank you so much.
David Debin: Ok, help me.
Nora Klaver: Where shall we begin?
David Debin: [high-pitched] Help! Help!
Peter Brill: There’s no help for him.
David Debin: [high-pitched] Help me! Help me!
Nora Klaver: Mr. Bill is on the show!
Peter Brill: Nora, can we ask you a question. Did you have trouble with this yourself, and how did you do it?
Nora Klaver: Absolutely. For me, it was trial and error. And that’s why I wrote the book. Because I thought, “I don’t want anybody else to have to go through what I did.”
Peter Brill: All the errors, you mean?
Nora Klaver: Oh, yeah. But the think the biggest situation that I experienced, the real life changer was, years ago I was supposed to have my parotid gland operated on. So that meant I was going to be incapacitated for a week afterward. And I really didn’t have anyone to ask to stay with me for that whole week, or at least I didn’t think so.
So after I saw the doctor, I came back home and called my boyfriend and told him that he was going to have to come and stay with me. And I noticed that he was hesitating, but I thought this was his duty as a boyfriend. He has to come help me. Of course, two days before the surgery, he dumped me.
[Peter and David groan]
So, that was the beginning. And that’s when I started realizing that I needed to surround myself with people who not only accepted help from me, but were willing to help me too.
Peter Brill: So what did you do? For the operation, for the week?
Nora Klaver: I actually I ended up having to call my elderly parents who lived in another state. My mother was thrilled to help. But I was terrified! It was going to be a nightmare week. I thought my dad was going to screw up the remote, and my mom was going to rearrange the kitchen.
Of course, none of those things happened, and we had a fabulous time together. And so that was another lesson for me in learning to let go and not focus on the control of the situation.
David Debin: Boy, that is just…there are so many things involved in your subject, here. Control, and self-image and identity. People who retire for instance, sort of lose their identity if they’ve been working in the job for a long time that they totally identify with. And if their job has been in a position of authority, it almost becomes impossible for them to then to turn around and ask somebody for help. What do I do? How do I do it? Where do I go now?
Nora Klaver: Right, exactly.
Peter Brill: So why is it so difficult?
Nora Klaver: Well, I think you touched on a couple of the major reasons right there. This sense of identity is very strong. We’ve created these incredible personas that we have to live up to all the time. I think the major fear that we have when were asking for help is that we are going to look weak or incompetent. Or somehow we are going to deviate from that well-tuned persona that we’ve created. And that just freaks people out.
David Debin: The subtitle of the book is “Asking for Help in Times of Need.” Now here’s where it gets a little tricky. The way you define times of need. Because a lot of people will think that if it’s something that they think that someone else won’t think is important, they won’t ask. Right?
Nora Klaver: Right.
David Debin: So is there some way to define…is a time of need when you can’t get to the grocery and you want someone to go for you? You call someone up. How many times can you get away with that? Or is a time of need when you are dumped by your boyfriend or girlfriend and are in total emotional pain. What is a time of need?
Nora Klaver: Well, it’s different for everyone because we all have different self images. When our shadow behaviors start to creep out or we have to admit that we are vulnerable, as Marissa was talking about, that’s really hard for us. It shows up differently with every person.
In fact, I was just talking with somebody about this today. A few months ago, I was in a hotel and I realized I had not packed my toothbrush. Here I am the Mayday Maven, and I was hesitating big time from calling the concierge and asking them to bring me a toothbrush up to the hotel room.
David Debin: Why? Because you’re supposed to be the maven, and you’re supposed …
Nora Klaver: Yes, because of that, and because I pride myself as being this fabulous traveler. So I tell this story to other people, and they’re like “Well, that’s ridiculous.” And I say, “well…yes…” And that was my need.
David Debin: I see. It’s more than…your need was more than just a toothbrush. It was a need to breakthrough that feeling that you have to be so self-sufficient. It was bigger than just a toothbrush…
Peter Brill: Or bothering somebody. A lot of people…
Nora Klaver: Or bothering someone…
Peter Brill: A lot of people have a lot of problem with that.
David Debin: Oh, that’s horrible…
Peter Brill: Oh, I can’t call that concierge they’re so busy. Oh, I don’t want to bother them.
David Debin: Is it different between Americans? Are Americans different from any other group in terms of asking for help? Is it more difficult for Americans to ask for help? It seems like a thing here in America that people are, I guess, more hesitant.
Nora Klaver: Well, I think we’re pretty bad at it. I think we’re probably worse than anybody. Mostly because we have this ingrained value of independence. And as is often the case we sometimes take our values to an extreme. We like extremes in the United States. I think we’ve taken this whole concept of independence a little to far.
Peter Brill: Who’s the best guys? Which country is the best at it?
David Debin: Romania
Nora Klaver: It’s hard to say. I think Japan is close, but the have their own cultural rigors that don’t allow for expression of individual pain or anguish. But they are much more focused on the community than we are. And asking for help is one of those ties that bind. It’s one way that we create community is by helping each other.
David Debin: I like this thing that we’re inculcated with a sense of independence that we have to do it.
Nora Klaver: Oh yes.
David Debin: And I’d like to come back and ask you if you would give us a story or two about how others that you’ve dealt with in your coaching practice have learned to ask for help from a position of not asking for help.
Nora Klaver: OK
David Debin: Also, I want to bring up there’s a book that’s recently been written by Chris Matthews. I haven’t read the book. But I heard two on-air with Chris Matthews, both of which scorched him. Apparently, the main point of this book is: ask. Call and ask for this, call and ask for that, call and ask for this.
And then he uses politicians as his model for the perfect person that’s able to call and ask for help. And what he was getting scorched on was that they were “Oh, now you’re holding up politicians to us as a perfect model.” But they do! They have no fear of calling anybody or asking for anything, right?
Nora Klaver: That’s right!
David Debin: So let’s investigate what it is in that spirit that enables people to ask for help anytime they feel like they want to get it.
Nora Klaver: OK!
David Debin: OK!
Peter Brill: I’m going to give you a little…Poor David throws these questions…it makes our guests just search their souls, deeply.
Peter Brill: So I’m going to give you some time here to think about it. Meanwhile, we’re going to go ahead and have a commercial, or two. So, we’ll be right back with The Third Age.
David Debin: We’re back with The Third Age. David Debin, Dr. Peter Brill, Marissa Scarbossi, Jarin Phelz. And we’re talking to Nora Klaver, who’s written this fabulous book. You might as well take something down here. If you’re going to write anything down, write down the name of this book. Because it’s going to help you help yourself.
The name of the book is “Mayday: Asking for Help in Times of Need.” And the author is Nora Klaver. It’s publish by Berrett Khoehler. You can get it on any of the bookstores online or in other stores. You can also find out more about it and get it on Nora Klaver’s website, www.mnoraklaver.com. Right?
Nora Klaver: Yes.
David Debin: OK.
Nora Klaver: There’s also an easier one which is maydaythebook.com.
David Debin: Oh, maydaythebook.com. OK. Peter, you had a question.
Peter Brill: I did?
David Debin: Yes, you want to know what time it is.
Peter Brill: We were talking before the break about the boundaries between being too needy and with whom, and how, and so forth. My contention is that most people have…the basic law I use for asking for help is I can ask for anything as long as the other person has the right to refuse.
Nora Klaver: Right.
Peter Brill: So when I’m holding the other person emotionally hostage to saying yes, then I no longer have the right to ask.
Nora Klaver: Absolutely.
Peter Brill: Because then I’m going to punish them, or censor them, or manipulate them. I’ve got to preserve both my right to ask and the other person’s autonomy in responding.
Nora Klaver: Right.
David Debin: How can you tell when you’re in that position? For instance, if you have an adult child, you’re an older parent. It might be that you are asking your child for help, and if they say no, then they’re…
Peter Brill: And there she was with her operation…
David Debin: Right…
Peter Brill: …and she had to call up her parents…
David Debin: Right…
David Debin:…and if they said no, would you have resented your parents? Probably.
Nora Klaver: Probably.
Peter Brill: So the law doesn’t work perfectly…
David Debin: No, it’s a tough law.
Nora Klaver: I sure resented the boyfriend.
Peter Brill: I’m sure you did.
David Debin: It’s a tough law. But if you come off too needy…for instance, in a relationship, husbands and wives, boyfriends and girlfriends. As a matter of fact, I’m going to ask Marissa. You have a boyfriend, right?
Marissa Scarbossi: Yes.
David Debin: And is he ever needy with you? Or does he ever ask you for help in that kind of a way?
Marissa Scarbossi: Sometimes, not all the time, though.
David Debin: And how does it make you feel when he does?
Marissa Scarbossi: Well, sometimes the questions aren’t as easy to answer, because they are usually just abstract. He’s going though grad school, so he’s having a tough time. I can’t personally tell him exactly what to say but I try as best as I can. If I am unable to answer it, I feel like I’m not helping enough, or I feel kind of bad on my part.
David Debin: So that’s the thing that other people feel when asked for help. Is that right, Nora?
Nora Klaver: Sometimes, yes. Most people do feel really good about helping. Sometimes they do feel badly if they don’t feel like they are helping enough.
Marissa Scarbossi. Yes, but helping in general, I think if you say something and you get positive feedback from the person asking for help, then it makes the person who is answering it help…
David Debin: Now what if he comes to you everyday, and says “I can’t do this. I need you to help to do that. I need you to help me do this. I need your support. I can’t…”
Peter Brill: I need you to cook dinner for me. I need you to wash my socks…
David Debin: What do you think?
Marissa Scarbossi: I’d be like, “Bye-bye.”
Peter Brill: So Nora, we’ve had different ways…what’s the trick to asking for clear strong requests for help that work and where are the boundaries?
David Debin: Yes. Step-by-step strategies.
Nora Klaver: Step-by-step strategy…Well, because I’m a coach, I tend not to do things that are really prescriptive. But I do have three key emotional states that if you can latch on to these, these are the secrets that make your requests really strong.
The first one is to have that self-compassion. Because if you really feel worthy of asking for help, then you will. You’ll actually consider it as a viable solution to your problem.
And then if you have faith that things are going to work out just fine. Whether you have faith in God or the universe, or any other basic deity that you have, or even just faith in the natural order of things. That faith is what bolsters us. It’s what can ground us and help us believe that it will turn out just fine. That we will get the help we need.
The third piece is gratitude. If you can feel grateful, then this need put into proportion. Because gratitude shifts our perceptions. So we’re no longer focused on problems as problems, they become opportunities.
And so having that self-compassion, faith and gratitude, those three emotional states will make sure that your requests are really clear and grounded.
David Debin: I’m not completely clear on how gratitude translates into the ability to ask for help.
Nora Klaver: Gratitude actually comes in when you are listening to the response. It’s really easy to grateful when somebody’s says, “Sure, I’m happy to help you.” But then, can you be grateful if someone says, “No?”
Can you see it as a sign, or even the beginning of a new conversation? Can you recognize that you are learning something new about that person and that they might be in greater need than you are?
David Debin: So when your ex-boyfriend said no, what was the lesson that you learned?
Nora Klaver: Besides the fact that he was…never mind….
Peter Brill: Our engineer had his finger on the button, there…
Nora Klaver: It didn’t take me very long, because I got grateful really fast. Because I realized that he was not who I wanted. And that I was incredibly grateful for my parents at the end of that week. I saw them in a completely different light. They were not these clingy, cloying kind of parents, these were like people. Like Bill and Elaine. They were just great, and I was really grateful that it actually turned out that way.
Peter Brill: Let me go back, though, to the question. Because what I found is that many, many people get to the point where the only person that they feel is there for them is their spouse, if they’ve left their family of origin, their husbands or their wives. And then when they turn them down, or can’t stand the weight of their needs, they feel disappointed. That’s the way in which I mean you can ask if the other person can say no.
Nora Klaver: Right.
Peter Brill: Because what you need then to do is to fuse out the number of relationships. Have more people in your life. More relationship with people where you give and take. And have what’s called a rich social network. Therefore, if one person turns you down for it - because the can’t do it, or it’s bad, or they don’t want to - you have other people in your life and you’re not desperate for that one person.
Nora Klaver: Right.
David Debin: Are you saying that you can ask somebody, “Can I ask you for help?” before you ask for help?
Peter Brill: I don’t know what you mean.
David Debin: In other words, can you say to somebody so they have the right to say no, or whatever. Can you say to somebody “I’d like to ask for help, but I don’t know if I can ask you.”
Peter Brill: No, no. I’m just saying that in your own heart; in your own soul; you don’t take a price from the other person. You don’t label that person as a bad person or someone…
David Debin: Oh, in your own feeling…
Peter Brill: In your own mind, if you in your own feelings you allow that some people are going to say no to you. And that provides a really free exchange.
Nora Klaver: It does.
Peter Brill: We’re going to have to…
David Debin: We are going to say the name of your book once again. It’s “Mayday: Asking for Help in Times of Need” by Nora Klaver. You should get it because it is one of the most important things you’re going to have to learn in this lifetime.
Peter Brill: And Nora, we really want to thank you for being on our show today. For livening up the discussion and being a wonderful person.
Nora Klaver: Oh, thank you so much. I really enjoyed it.
David Debin: And get out of that motel.
Peter Bill: Stay tuned out there, we’ll be right back with The Third Age.
David Debin: We’re back with The Third Age. The Third Age. I’m David Debin. I’m in my third age. I’m here with Dr. Peter Brill, he’s in his third age. Marissa Scarbossi, however, is on the cusp of the first and second age.
Marissa Scarbossi: One point five age…
David Debin: What’s that DOS 1.5? Edition. And Jarin Phelz is firmly entrenched in the second age and building everyday.
Peter Brill: So we have them all here.
David Debin: We have it all here. The thing we want to wish everybody is a happy - we were talking about gratitude with Nora Klaver - what we want to do is wish everybody a really happy Thanksgiving. Because it’s coming up real soon and there are all kinds of emotions that go on during Thanksgiving. Along with the ones that are gratitude and love and thankful.
Peter Brill: Do you want to change your Thanksgiving dinner?
David Debin: Do I want to change mine?
Peter Brill: I’m just saying out there, do you want to change your Thanksgiving dinner? Here’s a little ceremony we did for years in our family and with the extended family. What we shared was the best and the worst of the year. So we’d write down what was the absolute best thing that happened to us that year, and what was the worst thing. We’d go around and each person would share the worst and then we’d go around and share the best.
And it totally changes your Thanksgiving dinner. It takes it from what it can sometimes be a very stereotypic distant, difficult time when people get back together to a really deeply intimate experience.
David Debin: That’s a great idea, I’m going to do that. The best thing and the worst thing.
Peter Brill: You start with the worst, so you end with the best. And it focuses you in the end on gratitude and it helps cement…because people don’t know what happens in each other lives. It’s amazing how little even families know about what’s happened in terms of other people in their families experience.
David Debin: Well, I had an answer quickly to that.
Peter Brill: What’s your worst and best?
David Debin: The worst was getting cancer and the best was getting it cured!
David Debin: I don’t know. I mean that sounds selfish, I know. But what good would I be to anybody if I didn’t have the other part of the experience.
Peter Brill: The worst for me was my knee replacement, and not getting better the way they had expected. And the best was the month trip with my wife, that I just took.
David Debin: Marissa Scarbossi, it’s your turn.
Marissa Scarbossi: The worse, I think was finding out that my grandparent’s and my aunt’s house burned down.
David Debin: In the San Diego fire?
Marissa Scarbossi: In the San Diego fire, yes. And the best part I think is that every one of my family is coming up to Thanksgiving to my house, this year.
David Debin: Jarin?
Peter Brill: Jarin? Do you want to play?
David Debin: He’s not allowed to talk, but he’s going to..
Jarin Phelz: I’m thinking here and it’s difficult to come up with the worst. And I guess that’s a good thing.
David Debin: That’s a very good thing
Peter Brill: You can have a very minor worst.
David Debin: How about as a worst thing of the year that you’re seeing Les Carol’s tie today?
Jarin Phelz: I don’t know, it’s a nice tie. But I think my best is getting married, which I am absolutely in love. And you know what, I can’t come up with a worst right now. Which is good, because you know I’ll have to rack my mind over Thanksgiving. But I like that, I’ll do that activity…
Peter Brill: We will give you a chance next time…
David Debin: What a life!
Peter Brill: What a life…
David Debin: What a life, I could come up with a list.
Jarin Phelz: It can’t be bad. What can I say…
Peter Brill: Anyway, I just want to wish the people out there a really wonderful Thanksgiving. If you are in the third age, reach out to somebody if you are alone. Or if you see people alone, invite them in. It is a time to be grateful and a time to share.
We will be back next time with another adventure into the third age. I’d like to thank Jarin Phelz, Marissa Scarbossi, and Les Carol and our guest today for being on this show.
David Debin: And, that’s about it!