‘Trust whom you like, but rely on yourself.” — The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place, Book 3: The Unseen Guest
Finding a healthy balance between trusting others to meet our needs and taking responsibility for our own fates can be tricky. Many of us seesaw back and forth between extremes: we see ourselves as helpless victims in need of rescue, or else we soldier on bravely without asking for help, even when it’s desperately needed.
I admire the work of psychotherapist and author David Richo, who points out that the percentage of our needs that we can reasonably expect others to meet changes throughout our lives. As babies we need near constant care, but our independence increases gradually as we grow up. As adults we are expected to be self-sufficient, and many of us also spend a lot of our time and resources caring for others. And the elderly have legitimate and often intense needs for care, due to health issues or the natural change in abilities that comes with increasing age.
Of course, at any point in our lives our need to rely on others may change drastically and without warning, due to illness, disability, natural (or manmade) disasters, economic misfortune and other circumstances. Richo points out that an awful lot of everyday unhappiness stems from having unrealistic expectations of what we can fairly expect from others and from ourselves. We despair that no one saves us from problems that we fail to accept as our own, or we stress ourselves sick trying to do more than humanly possible while saying “I’m fine, I’m fine!” to anyone who asks. Sometimes we do both before lunch! It’s not easy being human.
Even in the political arena here in the US, there seems to be an unending debate about how we as a nation meet the needs of those who require care: children, the sick, the disabled, the elderly, the poor. The subject of “entitlements” (including education and health care) seems to hover perpetually at the center of our national political divide. Yet dependency and independence are not mutually exclusive values, but rather basic realities of human existence—a continuum that we each will have our chance to traverse over the course of a life, as both caregivers and recipients of care.
When Agatha Swanburne advises, “Trust whom you like, but rely on yourself,” maybe she’s reminding us that part of a healthy self-reliance is our ability to know when we need help, and to decide whom we can trust to provide it. I do sometimes wish that Agatha Swanburne could step in and host a political debate! What do you think she’d have to say about it all?
(Only a few more stops on the Incorrigible blog tour! See you on April 2nd at The Compulsive Reader!.)
Thank you so much Maryrose! Intrigued?? I bet!
Here's a bit more about the book:
Of especially naughty children it is sometimes said, "They must have been raised by wolves."
The Incorrigible children actually were.
Since returning from London, the three Incorrigible children and their plucky governess, Miss Penelope Lumley, have been exceedingly busy. When Lord Fredrick's long-absent mother arrives with the noted explorer Admiral Faucet, gruesome secrets tumble out of the Ashton family tree. And when the admiral's prized racing ostrich gets loose in the forest, it will take all the Incorrigibles' skills to find her. But once back in the wild, will the children forget about books and poetry and go back to their howling, wolfish ways?