We all grew up learning how to be independent and figure things out on our own. As a matter of fact, it’s often seen as a sign of weakness when someone asks for help.
Over time, we get so used to this subconscious training of self-sufficiency that we forget how to reach out and ask for support when we need it. As a result, things get way out of control before we even consider talking about them & getting help.
In no area of our lives is this more demonstrated than our relationships. Because of the private nature of an intimate relationship, it’s very sensitive talking about it with another individual. And, even if you’d really love to talk, how do you know the right person to talk to?
Each of us can point to a time in the past when you told some secret to a special friend, but later got disappointed to hear it from someone else. And so, we decide that we’ll no longer confide in anyone.
While it’s awesome to be independent, we should also be humble to admit that we don’t always have everything figured out. Man is a social being, we depend on each other for our well-being; directly or indirectly.
Why we find it so hard to ask for help
96% of people who volunteer or do other things for people say that helping someone else increased their sense of purpose. If we really love helping others that much, then why do we find it so hard to allow ourselves to be helped by others?
Here are 6 main reasons why we find it difficult to ask for help:
1) Fear of losing control
Admitting that we’re not in control is a hard thing to do. We all want to feel like we have every aspect of our lives figured out and taken care of. So, stepping out and asking for support becomes very difficult. Because of this, most of us would rather stay with our problems than talk about them with someone who can help us.
2) Fear of showing our vulnerability
Closely related to the first point above is that we don’t want to display any signs of vulnerability. This could be because the last time you were vulnerable, someone took advantage of that. So, we lock up and prefer to deal with all our problems on our own.
3) You don’t want to feel like you’re bothering other people
We often think that asking for help is a bother to the person you’re asking (and sometimes it is). But most times, people are willing to listen to you and support you in any way they can. It’s all about doing it in moderation. If you text someone 7 days a week for 1 month always asking for something, of course that would be a bother. I’m sure you get the point – ask for help but just don’t overdo it.
4) Independence, self-reliance and self-sufficiency
We love to be independent – and to say that we’re “self-reliant” and “self-sufficient”. Asking for help makes us feel like we depend on someone else, the other person is better than us; or that we’re not good enough. But none of that is true.
5) Fear of being judged
Nobody likes to be judged and put in a box. We fear that by sharing our problems, we’ll be judged and possibly have our story told to everyone.
6) Fear of rejection
Imagine that you finally decide to share your problems and seek for help – only to be rejected by the person you went to talk to. Nothing can be as heartbreaking as that. And, because we’ve all experienced some form of rejection, we decide to bottle everything in and talk to nobody.
Why it’s actually okay to ask for help
1) It is a sign of strength – not weakness
Asking for help shows that you want to keep improving yourself and getting better. Think about it. Why do the best athletes have personal trainers and coaches? Why do the top performers in organizations have mentors? It’s because they’re wise enough to know that they don’t have to go the entire distance alone. It’s okay to learn from people who have been where you are; or where you want to get to. Asking for their help makes you stronger – not weaker.
2) Not asking does not change the facts
Even if you don’t want to admit it, even if you refuse to ask for help, the truth still remains that you need help. The fact that you didn’t ask for it does not mean that you did not need it. We all need help with something at some point in our lives; no matter how big or small.
3) You help others by giving them an opportunity to help you
As we mentioned earlier, people love helping others. By asking for their help, you’re actually helping them in return by increasing their sense of purpose and accomplishment.
4) You strengthen your connections
Asking for help is a demonstration of trust. Nothing strengthens your connection with someone as much as trust. By giving the right people the opportunity to help you, you’re strengthening your relationship with them.
5) Finally, everyone needs help at some point
When it’s all said and done, we’ll all need support with something at some point in our lives. Whether it’s a referral for a job, recommendation for your Masters program, emergency money to cover an unexpected expense; advice when you need to make a decision, or just a listening ear to pour out your heart to – a time will come when you need something from someone.
The right way to ask for help
We’re not asking you to become a crybaby who always seeks attention and hides away from taking responsibility. No. Instead, be willing to admit when you’ve got to the end of your road, and accept a little bit of support.
Here are some key points to note when asking for help:
*1) Admit that you need help & be willing to get it
*2) Actually go ahead and ask for the help you need
*3) Be specific in your request – don’t confuse the person you’re asking
*4) Tell the person why you chose to ask them instead of anyone else
*5) Make sure that the person you’re asking has the time and resources to support you (or has the knowledge to refer you to the right places)
*6) When you get help, be willing to help others by sharing what you’ve learned.
Asking for help is NOT a sign of weakness, it is a sign of strength. Seeking support does not mean that you are no longer independent. On the contrary, it helps you become even more independent because each support you get builds you up to become more self-sufficient and independent. In the next post, we’ll take a look at how this applies to your relationship.