Why is Asking for Help so Difficult?
Asking for help is something that can be surprisingly difficult. Sometimes people don’t have clear boundaries and find it hard to say no to requests when they want to or need to. If you are someone with poor boundaries, and limits, you may feel that others do too. You may presume that they will feel pressured to say yes to a request when in fact they may be fine with that. This can lead to an unwillingness to ask others.
Trusting that the other person has their boundaries in place makes it easier to ask. In this high-speed environment that we all reside in now it is common to be stressed and under pressure, and so it is unsurprising that we may not want to ask a favour from another person.
What if we all asked for help when we needed it?
I find it hard to even imagine, but my vision is of a world where we would be a lot less overwhelmed as we are sharing our skills and energy, and playing to our strengths.
It seems to me that these days not many people in the UK have a network of a community to rely on. There are online groups and support networks, and those can be very helpful but they don’t help you pick up the kids when you are ill, or help you move a fridge freezer. We need supportive friends and community networks to help alleviate pressure and loneliness. With the crazy circumstances of the pandemic in 2020, perhaps these networks of support have improved but I feel we have a long way to go to get to a place where there is reliable community support for all.
Over the years there have been hundreds of times when I could have done with some help. I have not found it easy to ask at all. My previous friendship group fractured somewhat as people changed, moved away and had families. I don’t have regular contact with most of them and although I have been happy to make a few new good friends, some of them have chronic illnesses and others live further away. I feel like I am in a transition time of finding my new tribe and it is taking some time. A few years ago, I was yearning for community and more social contact, as many stay-at-home mothers experience. I could go for days on end without any other adult contact apart fro my partner. It seems the advent of technology has isolated us more than ever. And then 2020 happened!
People have unique personalities and quirks, and some people love doing what I hate to do, and vice versa. For example, someone who loves animals may be more than happy to pet sit for a week, and someone who needs a change of scene or a retreat may jump at the chance of a housesit. Some people even love to clean and declutter or do accounts!! So I think if we could all get better at asking for help and use our online social networks to communicate with each other, then we could build more community support and enjoy reciprocal arrangements.
It is not always necessary to repay or swap either. If you think of times when you have helped someone (willingly) it feels good! Helping others brings feelings of generosity and kindness and that is an uplifting sensation.
So why can we find it so hard to ask for help?
I think that we are trained socially to believe that only children need help and once we are an adult, we are supposed to know what we are doing and be capable of it all. With the rise of mental health issues in younger age groups this needs to change. The stigma around seeking help when you have a mental health condition is still huge and the levels of suicide in young men particularly are shocking.
The barriers to asking for help:
- Not wanting to burden someone else
- Fear of rejection or being ignored
- Fear of seeming incompetent or weak
- Fear of being judged or even labelled
- Not wanting to feel indebted
- Feeling vulnerable
- Not knowing who to ask or where to go for support
- Hoping the problem will go away by itself
Pride can be a big one for men in this culture, perhaps as men have been landed with this model of being a strong, tough bread-winner. Essentially though this is just a distortion of the ego energy that may well have been passed down through generations. This variety of pride is unhelpful and best dropped as it prevents authenticity and any movement towards gaining support.
The benefits of asking for help:
- Less stress
- Getting things done that wouldn’t be possible otherwise
- New outlooks, possibilities and ideas.
- Learning new techniques and tools
- Lessening of overwhelm
- Sharing problems
- May lead to a helpful diagnosis
- It allows the other person the gift of giving
- Takes pressure off the family unit
- Reducing loneliness
- Making deeper friendships
Here’s how to do it!
- Ask the other person at a time when they have space and time to listen
- Ask someone who is likely to be willing to give freely, not someone with a history of manipulation or deal making.
- Ask from a place of truth and integrity
- Be clear and direct
- Explain specifically what it is you need support with, it could be something as simple as having someone to listen to you.
- Trust that the other person will say no if they choose to.
- Remember if the other person says no, they are saying no to the task, not to you personally.
- If they say yes, express gratitude!
You can access help from your GP, counsellors, or organisations and charities. In general, these can all be found easily online but the GP is the first option if you are unable to find this information.
If children don’t see parents asking for help then they don’t witness the modelling of that behaviour and they will be less likely to ask for help themselves when they move into young adulthood. Surely that is a time when they might need help, guidance and support the most.
I am going to try to put this advice I have come up with into practice this week. I am thinking that practice makes it easier.
Why don’t you give someone the gift of being able to help others this week, by asking clearly for some support? Go on, I dare you! What’s the worst that could happen? 🙂