I Got This vs. I Need Help

The term "I got this" is used in abundance in the prison community. It is common to hear "I got this" or "I got it bro" meaning "don't advise me, I can handle this" "I can do this on my own" "I am smart enough to proceed and succeed in this situation".

Ultimately, the question of success or failure in each situation or challenge add up to the big question: are we going to be successful in life? Ergo, "I got this" means "I have a handle on my life".

But do we really have it all under control?

I didn't.

I said "I got this" - to myself even - over and over again. Every time I got out of jail, "I got this" ... and would get busted and return behind bars. When I was in jail? "I got this" ... right before getting jumped or beaten up. When my girl would plead with me not to go certain places or meet with certain people "I got this" ... boom! Back in jail. Don't tell your boss that? "I got this" ... I'm fired. Don't tell your parole officer that? "I got this" ... I'm violated. Don't tell that guy what you really think? "I got this, he'll understand" ... I wind up in a fight. I used that phrase time and time again - to my detriment.

"I need help" for a convict / tough guy / egotistical, prideful person like myself for the last 30 years? You may as well have me saying "I'm not a man, I can't do anything, you can't trust me, I'm stupid". Right? My motto for so long was "never surrender". "I need help" meant "I surrender" in my head. So those words were never used by me - my perspective was so wrong.

"I need help" does not mean that at all to me today. Now it means to me that I am not as smart as I could be on this particular subject/situation, and there may be other methods or angles I haven't come across yet.

It no longer means that I am a wimp, or that I am not smart, or any of the things that prior to my change of mindset and perspective in life thought that it meant. I had to learn to adopt the idea that "I need help" is not always me putting my hand out; I finally understood that "I need help" does not mean "I am helpless", but rather "I am open to the possibility that there is a way to manage this situation other than the one I am already familiar with."

You see, when we are comfortable with ways of doing things, our bodies and minds memorise the process ... whether it is the right one or not, most of the time if we know what the outcome will be, we are happier with it. Even if it doesn't work, I may already have a predetermined excuse or alibi when it doesn't work - but I am comfortable with what that response will trigger in the way of feelings and emotions, because I am familiar with it. It is when I don't know what the outcome is, and I am unfamiliar with a way of doing things, that I am most leary about proceeding. That comes from my continuous repetition of the thoughts I had about "I need help" - I would rather take a chance and do it my way, than to do it your way and potentially fail ... or even potentially succeed and have you take the credit and make me look stupid.

Today, to me, "I need help" means there may be a way I can handle this situation that is different to the way I know already, and maybe it will produce an outcome that is better than the ones I know and am familiar with already.

Once I adopted that concept in my life, my life changed. That is the single most instrumental alteration in perception that has taken place in my life, and brought about the most recovery (from addiction, alcohol, bad associations, work, relationships; any aspect of life at all).

Now I am able to take a step back and ask myself whether I am doing what I used to do. I am able to consider that someone else's advice - whether from a person, a book, a training video, whatever - might give me a result that is more beneficial to me. And if not? Well maybe I will learn something new. That part is crucial.

Today, I am not ashamed to admit I need help. Well, okay - you may not exactly hear it verbalised! However my actions show that I am opening my mind to advice, I am learning new methods, and creating new results. My mind is firing new synapses, creating new neuron pathways, and using more of my brain. I really like a phrase I read in one of Joe Dispenza's books "neurons that fire together, wire together". Basically it means when you perform the same act over and over, you reinforce the neuron pathways in the brain. They become more and more familiar, to the point of being "automatic". That's why people spend so many hours practicing golf swings and such. So, I practice in my own way - by repeating and reinforcing new experiences and making the new (better) approach of "I need help" become my automatic instead of my past (worse) habit of "I got this".

In summary - the three words that took me out, faster than anything, over and over again, were "I got this". The three words that have saved my life, more times than I can count now, are "I need help". Understanding what they meant before, and what my new perspective is today, is key. As the well known quote says "when you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change".

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Dan Sanfellipo -
Author & Speaker

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