Have you ever felt like you had a hard time and could really need some support? I know I have. All the time actually. But instead of asking for help, it’s so easy to get caught up in trying to soldier on and being strong. Also something I do all the time. There’s nothing wrong with being strong, but occasionally it can mean that you don’t recognize the moment when asking for help could be the answer. That’s what happened to me this week.
Why asking for help is difficult
In today’s world we are constantly presented with high achievers, big successes, people who seemingly have it all together and live their life with ease. Both in our work and personal lives. The constant messages never stop, one look at social media (or media in general) and it’s like an advertisement for how great everyone else is and how you should present yourself too.
No doubt you want to feel like you have it all together and present yourself in the best light. I absolutely want that too. Vulnerability is hard. What will people think? Will I feel like a failure when I admit it? And worst of all: What if I hold on just a little bit longer and then maybe everything will fall into place and get easier. Am I giving up too early?
We don’t ask for help because we’re too busy judging ourselves!
Some of the reasons why we’re not asking for help are:
- Fear of rejection
- Fear of being seen as weak or incapable
- Fear of people judging us
- Fear of being a bother
- Fear of not being able to reciprocate
- Feeling that you should be able to do it yourself
- Fear of not being worthy
It’s amazing, somewhere between childhood and adulthood you build up this fear. My toddler asks for help all the time without thinking about it. He demands it even. He feels he has a right to be helped because he can’t do it alone. It’s as simple as that for him. He has a right to be helped because he can’t do it alone. And that in itself makes him worthy in his eyes, to ask for it. Where do you loose that sense of worthiness between toddlerdom and now?
How to find strength in asking for help
This week I learned how much strength you can gain when you ask for help. This website is so much work and whilst I try to put my best foot forward and make it all happen, it is also incredibly hard juggling it with everything else that is going on in my life. Sometimes I feel that I’m not good enough and not cut out for this, that what I am trying to create here is not good enough and that I don’t know what I’m doing.
But when I finally decided to reach out, to people I trust as well as strangers, and said openly that I struggled with all this, instead of being judged I was greeted with kindness, offers of support and instantly didn’t feel alone anymore. It felt absolutely wonderful. More importantly, I felt so much less like a failure. Where I had been sitting and crying out of tiredness, frustration and overwhelm, I now felt strengthened and worthy of support.
So now I am here to pass it on and tell you: You are worthy!
Asking for help does not mean admitting defeat or failure, it means to be open to the gift that is help and support.
It takes courage to ask for help. But overcoming the fear of asking has an immediate effect: You feel relieved.
How to overcome the fear of asking
Let’s go through the fears I listed above and look at them:
You fear rejection but asking for help can also mean an opportunity for others to make a difference. Maybe you can recall a situation where you have helped somebody and how that made you feel.
You fear to be seen as weak and incapable, when asking for help is really an act of courage and often seen as such too. Everyone knows how tough it is to ask for help.
You fear of people judging you, but really we judge ourselves much more harshly and need to be told on occasion to be kind to ourselves.
You fear of being a bother, and I’m here to tell you that you are not! When I moved from London to Melbourne, not knowing anybody, I missed the feeling of trust that people put in you when they ask for your help much more than actually being helped myself.
You fear not being able to reciprocate but that is often not immediately necessary. Whilst we may not be able to help the person who helped us, we are able to help others. If we all become more open to asking for help, we also become more open to giving help. It’s a win win for everybody! If people see you as somebody who needs help occasionally, they will feel much more at ease asking you for help as well.
You fear that you should be able to do it yourself but the truth is noone does everything themselves. Everyone gets help at some point in some way. You may just not always see it.
You fear of not being worthy. But you are my dear! I am here to tell you so.
What to do when the answer is no…
Not always when you ask for help can the answer be ‘yes of course’. Try not to be disheartened. It is not a reflection of your worthiness but far more of the other person’s circumstances. When you are asked for help you may not always be in a position to give it either, which doesn’t mean that you don’t care about the person who’s asking.
So instead of being hurt by it and retreat, are you able to ask someone else?
Some ways of asking for help effectively can be:
- Be clear. Sometimes people are shy to offer help because they don’t want to intrude. Instead of saying ‘I am having a hard time’ (which relies on people to offer help), saying ‘I can’t do it alone, I need help’ can be much more successful.
- Show that you’ve tried to help yourself. People are so much more likely to help when they can see that you’ve tried to work it out but couldn’t get there.
- Think about the timing when you are asking for help. It can be a good idea to check first when is a good time to talk to somebody. This will give them the opportunity to let you know when they are actually able to listen and act.
- Ask more than one person.
Have you asked for help? How did that make you feel? Or do you find it hard? Or maybe you’ve given help to somebody, how did that make you feel? I’d love to hear from you! Please leave a comment below and let me know.
Let’s find strength in vulnerability together!
Let’s be kind to ourselves and each other.