Do you treat “help” like a 4-letter word?
What if you had more freedom to ask for what you wanted and for specific support from other people? What if you could ask for help in a confident, humble and empowering way? What if you remembered that you are worthy of other people’s help and that they want to help?
While it sounds simple enough, accepting help is challenging for all of us. It’s especially hard for those of us that believe that seeking help undermines our independence and our ability to cope.
There is a tendency to think that you “should” be able to cope alone, to manage without help, or that “life shouldn’t be this way”. It’s a tendency to see the world as it “should be” as opposed to as it actually “is.”
Wanting something to be, or something not to be based on unrealistic standards is only wishful thinking.
8 Reasons You Don’t Ask For Help and What To Do About It
1. Asking for support makes you feel vulnerable. Many of us are sensitive about being told “no”. By asking others to help us, we put ourselves out there and risk rejection.
Consider This: Our ability to both ask for and receive help not only supports us, but also gives others a chance to contribute (which most people really want to do). If you do get rejected, it’s not because of anything you did. It’s what’s going on with the other person.
2. You feel it is socially wrong to ask or to be a burden to friends and family for assistance.
Consider This: Everyone needs help now and then. No one can — or should — handle everything alone. Accepting help can strengthen friendships and relationships. Everyone feels good when they can support a friend!
3. The person you need help from intimidates you or you don’t want to give them the satisfaction of needing them.
You know, those teachers or bosses who you swear don’t like you. Or you are hindered by a personal fear of being judged or portrayed as weak, inferior, and incompetent.
You fear getting fired or failing the class if you reveal you need support.
Consider This: Ask yourself, “Is this really true?”
Has your teacher or boss encouraged you to come chat when you’re stuck but you just don’t do it?
Think about it. How well you do in a teacher’s class tells others if your teacher is really a good teacher.
At work, you are there to support your boss. If you don’t get clear on what or how to do something from your boss you’re going to make your boss look bad.
The boss or teacher, who really wants to succeed, wants you to succeed too.
4. You believe you are the only person who needs help or you’ve been helped your entire life and you just want to do it on your own. While burying problems may seem strong, it is the same as running and hiding.
Consider This: Take the focus off of you. Everyone needs support.
For example, a general contractor needs framers, painters, accountants, cabinet-makers and lots of other skilled people to build houses. They all support the contractor and his business. Does needing help from all those people make him weak? No, it makes him smart and successful.
If you pay attention, you’ll notice everyone needs help and gets support in different ways. It’s not just you. You will become stronger in your knowledge or skill because you asked and got the answer, support, or direction you needed.
5. Sometimes you don’t know you need help. It’s true. Sometimes we think we understand the job or class assignment. Then bam! We get that disappointing grade or impromptu meeting with the boss and it’s too dang late to ask for help.
Consider This: After getting an assignment, spend a few minutes with your boss or teacher rephrasing back what you heard and asking if you are missing anything. Understand purpose, deadlines, formats and audience. Getting clear on what is expected is part of your job and learning.
6. The words won’t come. Sometimes you know you’re stuck but you don’t know exactly what to ask.
Consider This: Let’s say you’re working on a project for work or school. When you talk with your boss or teacher start with:
“This is what I’ve got so far. I’m not sure of the next step.” or
“What are your thoughts on what I have so far. Am I on track?” or
“I’ve got it narrowed down to these 2 things but am struggling to make a final decision.”
These comments and questions will start the support conversation and lead to the specifics of what’s getting in your way.
7. You are a perfectionist. You believe needing help makes you imperfect. You think you should be able to do everything yourself or that by admitting you need help, you are weak.
Consider This: Ummm, not to burst your bubble but you already are imperfect. Perfect doesn’t exist. It is unrealistic. It sets you up to fail.Getting support sets you up to succeed.
See asking for help as a strength. It takes courage to admit you don’t know. In order to seek help, you need to be strong enough to accept that you aren’t perfect.
Not one person is good at everything. If you expect to get straight A’s in all your subjects it’s unrealistic. It’s possible, but you will struggle in some subjects more than others.
Acknowledge your strengths and accept being a mere mortal.
8. You are trapped in Black and White Thinking. You believe independence means needing no one and nothing and if you do need someone or something then you are not independent.
You believe you can’t achieve true independence if you rely on others.
You may feel that you’re totally independent and don’t need any help, or that any person offering you help may be doubting your ability to remain independent.
Consider This: Independence by definition is “freedom or control from the influence of others”.
When we grow up, move out and start making our own decisions, we are independent. We are in charge of deciding if we want or need help. The decision to be supported by others throughout our lives is the greatest form of independence. We decide when and who we ask or accept support from.
The truth is that by refusing to accept help we ignore that we are social beings who need to co-operate with one another in order to thrive.
What came up for you as you read this article? What will you do the next time you need support?
I don’t think my reason for not asking for help fits into any of your excuses. It seems to be a form of perfectionism but not the one you explain. My perfectionism is that the one I ask is not perfect or right for me, and I will end up helping them thinking they are just using my ability and not helping me. I’ve been reading around on asking for help and am begining to think that maybe, it really doesn’t matter, it’s about the act of asking for help and learning to accept what ever help is offered. However, thinking about that makes me feel like I would just be settling for what ever crumb they have to offer, if they offer any at all.
What do you think is going on?