Why is it so hard to ask for help?
This is something I have struggled with all of my life (although I’ve gotten better at it over the past year or so as my dog walking, snow shovelling brother will attest – you’re the best!).
For a long time, I thought needing help was a sign of weakness. Of course, if someone else needed help, I didn’t think they were weak; no, this was a judgment I reserved for myself. My self-worth was hinged on my independence and to ask for help made me feel unworthy. It made me feel weak, as if I had failed at being the independent and self-sufficient person I always strove to be.
Here are some things I’ve done instead of allowing someone to help me*:
- Sat home alone and cried on a Saturday night instead of accepting a $20 loan so I could join my friends for a drink.
- Spent way too much time and energy in various stages of moving instead of letting some pack a box for me.
- Insisted my first concussion wasn’t that big a deal and watched a lot of Netflix, in spite of good advice from a friend, and subsequently took a long time to heal.
There is a common theme here. If I had asked for help in these situations, or accepted the help that was offered, I would have gotten things done quicker. I would have had fun. I may have healed quicker. Instead, I’ve usually ended up alone, lonely, exhausted, cranky or depressed.
Here’s what has happened since I’ve started letting people help me:
- Things get done quicker and often with a laugh or two.
- I gain perspectives outside of my own that help me deal with difficult situations.
- I want to help those who have helped me.
- I have deeper and stronger relationships with the people around me.
Everyone needs help and it’s not a sign of weakness or a deficiency in character. Asking for help doesn’t mean that you can’t make it on your own and accepting that you will, from time to time, need a helping hand is not only helpful (imagine that!) but a relief. It’s OK to need people, and the friends and family in your life who love you will want to help you and appreciate the opportunity to show they care.
I still struggle with this. However, I believe the words that I’ve written here. I know that needing help and asking for it don’t make me weak. Maybe it’s the opposite. Maybe it actually shows that I’m strong.
* My memory is a bit spotty so I asked for help on Facebook for this post. I asked people to remind me of some examples of when I refused their help, even though they knew I needed it. I didn’t get many specific examples but I did get a few comments along the lines of “Where do I start?” So this should tell you everything you need to know about how deeply ingrained this approach has been to my life. And given that, perhaps why it’s so difficult to change.