This follows on perfectly from the previous habit of facing your fears as for most of us – myself included – asking for help is extremely difficult to do. We tend to shy away from asking others for help, for fear that it will make us appear weak. We believe that coping means managing alone and we are so afraid of appearing needy, or a burden to others. We simply don’t want to admit to others that we don’t have it totally together after all, and fear the judgement we believe will come with this.
Not asking for help makes an already challenging situation even harder by making us feel we are in it completely alone. Our problems can even become bigger burdens than if they were shared, leading to unhappiness and frustration. By keeping them to ourselves, we’re also depriving others of the opportunity, and their willingness, to assist us. Once we understand our barriers to asking for help, we can find solutions to overcome these. Often we just need to change the way we think about a situation, as this can affect what we do.
One of the biggest reasons we don’t reach out for help when needed is this fear of rejection. We might experience some people that are reluctant to help us. But most of the time this isn’t the case and we will actually be surprised by the support we are offered. We have to stop and ask ourselves “how bad would the rejection actually be?” There’s no doubting that the rejection might be hurtful and distressing at first, but overtime this will lessen and will far outweigh any pain we get from not asking when we need to, and struggling alone. Like I mentioned in my previous post on fear, we are the root cause of these fears and often create them by imagining fictional, negative scenarios.
Last summer, shortly after my craniotomy, my housemates were away and I ran out of food after moving back to London for my independence. Rather than leaning on friends, I took a suitcase to the supermarket for balance and embarked on a two hour trip to pick up bread and eggs from the local store. I put up a post half-joking about my achievement on Instagram, but shortly afterwards, I received a flood of messages from my London friends reminding me just to ask in future – they would be more than happy to help!
Despite it being incredibly challenging, at the time it was a huge step for me and it did make me feel so much more confident and independent knowing I didn’t rely on anyone. But I must admit, I also felt very alone. And for a couple of essential items, that would have taken five minutes to grab, it was a complete faff. Had I have just swallowed my pride sooner, I realised how welcomed the help would have been received, and gladly offered.
And I would be more than happy to give it too, if the shoe was on the other foot. If any of my friends needed the support, I wouldn’t think twice about being there for them. I think remembering this is so important. Pride can stop us from asking for help and yet, we would happily give it to someone if they openly asked us for it. We have to remember that people will do the same for us. We are so much stronger together and we can do far more as one.
Common assumptions, that keep us from asking for help, are that we don’t deserve it when offered or that we don’t feel as though others would even want to help us. We believe we can manage on our own and that we need to do so to hold onto our independence. But all this keeps us from asking when we need to, and leads to negative, unhelpful emotions such as worthlessness and low self esteem. Neither of these emotions make us feel happy!
Asking for help shows vulnerability. It shows others, and yourself, that you have the courage to ask for it. It increases our connection to each other and forces us to step outside of our comfort zones, by overcoming the fear and putting ourselves out there in the first place. By doing so, we grow stronger and more equipped to handle life’s other challenges. Research even shows that the happiest, and most successful, people ask for help and have better relationships (I). Because by asking for help, we are able to build and nurture our relationships with others and effectively grow our support systems.
The next time you need someone to lend you a hand, or simply an ear – just ask! You’re not putting others out by asking for help; you’re providing them the opportunity to be needed, and the feelings of joy and satisfaction they will get from that. And in this time of need, we need to stick together more than ever.
We’re not alone. You, are not alone.