The skill of asking for help

This is some thing that would seem odd at first. However, as someone whose job is largely to help people, it is quite common to deal with people who do not know how to ask for help. It may seem strange to claim that. To think that someone who clearly needs help and are looking for it, can lack the skill of asking for help. That's like someone who's thirsty but does not know how to drink.
But maybe the person is thirsty and knows how to drink but doesn't know how to get a drink. This analogy is a bit off because the moment we are thirsty, we know what we need. It is a natural reaction. Asking for help is not natural nor is it intuitive. Asking for help is a conscious decision. We who are asking for help, know we are in trouble. But sometimes we don't know what we need. If we knew what we need, wouldn't that mean we solved the problem? This is the genius of the skill of asking for help. It will get us what we need even when we don't know what it is. The ability to know how to ask a question will help us find an answer. It may even solve our problem outright.
The first part of the skill of asking for help is to acknowledge that we do not know what we need. Accept it, even if it is to ourselves. Once we accept that we don't know or even might not know what it takes to solve our problem, we are more open to possibilities. We removed limitations to ourselves when we accept that we do not know and have to learn in order to solve our problem.
Second is to focus on what we want to achieve. Think about what is the goal of solving our problem. If we can't picture how the solution looks like, we can at least picture how it will be once we have the solution. Our goals it to not just find the solution but to solve. Knowing how it will look like once we have solved our problems means visualizing success. If we know how something looks like, isn't it easier to find it?
Third, is let someone who knows offer us a solution. Clearly, we lack some information or foresight or knowledge that prevents us from solving our problem. If we can accept that, we can be open to someone who is willing to share the knowledge with us. We can then use the knowledge to solve our problems. When we are focused on the goal, we can accept that a solution will get us there.
The common trap we fall into because we do not have this skill is to ask for something specific, thinking that it will solve our problem. There is nothing basically wrong in asking for something specific. But when asking for help, especially help from another party, it is important to emphasize to them our goals, rather than what we are asking specifically. What we want becomes a suggestion, rather than a demand.
Which brings us to the fourth, be thankful. So many people do not thank the people who help them. Some even choose to bite the hand that helped them up. We will always be facing some sort of problem. We may need help again. Or it may be our turn to help some one else. Saying thanks costs nothing more than a bit of pride. Isn't that worth our problems being solved?

Change Blindness: the cost of focus

Solving a problem requires focus. Nobody is doubting that. We need to focus on the problem. We need to focus on the solution. When using the 5 Steps, we need to focus also on possible solutions and their implications. Focus, focus and focus. But what is it that we are missing when we focus. The act of focusing means we discard what is not important and keep and eye on what matters to us. Information that we are not focusing on is ignored.
But what is the cost of focus? One of the assumptions that we unconsciously make when focusing is that what we are focusing on does not change. Everything remain still as we zoom in. We also assume that what we are not focusing on does not change also. It is like when focus on an picture. Unfortunately, unless you are dealing with a picture, most things change as we are working. Focusing our vision is a very fast process. That is why it seems as nothing has changed. But when we focus something else, like our thoughts, things at the beginning may not be the same when we stop focusing on them. At the end of focusing, we do not expect changes to happen. Our fixation can be so strong that we are not surprised at things that changed because we didn't notice them in the first place. When we focus too much, we miss change.
There is a famous example to demonstrate this phenomena. It involves a guy in a gorilla suit. This phenomena even has a name, "The Invisible Gorilla Effect". It is the subject of the book of the same name. Check out these videos from the book's site that demonstrate the effect. Participate in the experiments. How surprised were you at the results? In short, about half of us are prone to this effect. If you think about the amount of things we focus on every day, about half of the time we would miss something that changes as we are focusing on it. This article goes into more details on the phenomena.
There are several strategies to combat this. One is through variation. Having more than one person looking at something gives it more attention. The other person would notice changes that one person would miss. Exchanging information afterwards would also result in more changes being noticed or at least hinted at.
Another way to deal with this phenomena is to break our focus. Decide to stop focusing after doing it for some time. Be wary of too much focus. Stop thinking about it and reset our focus. A bit of time may be needed to make us forget the details. The amount of time needed depends on our memory and our ability to discard the past experience or memory. When we come back and look at it again, it's a clear and fresh outlook. Sleep is a good solution. A nap relaxes the brain and you wake up with a fresh perspective. I re-edit my posts after some time because I re-read, after a while, what I write and catch my mistakes.

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