05 Oct Have a Hard Time Asking for Help?
Could You Help Me?
These are words that RARELY leave my lips.
I really struggle with asking for help.
Why is it so hard to ask for help?
Asking for help has felt like peeling my skin off. I don’t want to ask. I’ve tended to soldier through whatever it is I have on my plate and do it on my own.
Rod and I have a weekly relationship ritual where we talk about our relationship and we ask each other what we can work on or if there is something that has happened during the past week that hasn’t been completed.
He mentioned that he often offers to help me. From pouring me a glass of water at dinner or carrying something for me and my response 99.9% of the time is.
“No thanks, I’ll take care of it.”
It is an immediate reaction. I take his offer as a reminder of what I will do next and deny his opportunity to be kind and generous to me and also show his desire to show me that he loves me.
After I journaled about it, I realized that part of my response is based on previous trauma.
In a previous relationship I had an inventory of what I thought was loving support laid, less than tenderly of what they had done for me and then kept track of. I felt foolish for trusting that person and internally made an unconscious vow to not do that again.
I also realized that I am ok to accept help if I can reciprocate the support and where I can precisely track that it stays equal, and I can never feel foolish.
I don’t want to react because of something that happened to me. I want to respond and even more I want to accept support and trust that it’s for my good.
This is one of the road blocks many people experience that keep them from asking for help. There are more.
Watch Love at Lunch to find out five factors to be aware of that hold us back from asking help and how to move past them. Keep reading for eight ways to ask for help (and get the words out of your mouth ;).
Asking for help is hugely vulnerable. There’s that. We all want to be seen as independent and self-sufficient and needing help can feel like weakness. Sometimes it’s also a way to avoid rejection or hurt when we ask for help and aren’t met with the openness and cooperation we long for.
I went to a workshop on intuition and was going through the journaling prompts about creating the life of our dreams. I was trying answer the following question:
What stands in the way of living out your dreams?
The first thing I heard in my head was, asking for help.
I tried to put it aside and listen more deeply. The voice just seemed to get louder.
I hate these moments (and love them because intuition is our truth).
I like to blame it on my culture, being a kid of Dutch immigrants. We’re fiercely independent and don’t ask for help EVER. You can look it up. OK, not really, but any Dutch person will agree that we do independence well.
To the point that in my early twenties, I felt terrible for calling an ambulance for my very unconscious mother. I knew she’d be mad at us for calling for help. It took my sister and I close to 30 minutes to try and find another way to sort this situation out. We were considering putting her in the back seat of a car to avoid calling an ambulance. I told you this is serious-we don’t ask for help. It’s genetic.
What’s up with that?! I was willing to put someone’s life in danger to avoid asking someone for help.
We often don’t ask for help to the detriment of ourselves and others. Asking for help is one of the key components of building trust as well. Take that in. If we want greater trust and connection, we need to ask for help.
Even paying for help can come with its own bit of shame. It can go against the unspoken rules.
Independence and getting help are not binary-they can work together.
What have we made up about asking for help or allowing ourselves to feel like we need help in the first place?
What if asking for help is our way home? Our way back to the truth of what we need to live a fulfilling life.
What if the fullest life requires that you ask for help and allow others to help you?
What are those sticky areas that you feel too exposed to ask for help with?
Getting someone to clean your house.
Asking a co-worker for help with a project.
Asking someone to watch your kids so you can have a break.
Asking for volunteers so you have less on your plate.
Asking your partner to take on some household responsibilities.
Accepting money when things are tight.
What?! Accepting money? Insert sound of needle scratching straight across a moving record-STOP THE BUS!!!
It seems that financial independence is held in even higher regard than anything else. There’s a feeling of such shame to accept money in a tough time.
No way-not me! NEVER!!
But things happen. I’m talking about losing your job or getting ill and having the bills-the regular ones like food, heat, shelter, pile up. We rarely let someone know of our troubles, never mind allow them to cover a bill for us.
What if that’s actually holding us back-holding us back from being loved by another or being cared for as part of a bigger community?
What if we’re so deeply ensnarled in the grip of fierce independence that we’re not allowing ourselves to rest in the nurturing, provisional arms of another, whether that is another person or a community?
What if we are holding back some mysterious and delicious circle of life that we’re made for, that brings us home, home to ourselves and home to a deeper sense of purpose, and helps us access the life of our dreams?
I have reached out for financial help. I had to do that to run a non-profit. That was a HUGE stretch for me.
Not wanting to miss anything because of fear and my desire to avoid vulnerability, when I was launching JoySocks I asked four people who I admire and respect, to help me to create a JoySock footed world. I had started this after my son’s brain surgery where we give away fun, goofy, gift-wrapped socks, called JoySocks to people in charities, shelters, and hospitals. (www.joysocks.ca)
It wasn’t comfortable asking for help, but in hindsight, sitting around my kitchen table with these volunteers was one of the best things I’ve ever done. People were thrilled to help, and I was relieved to have some support. Shockingly for me, people felt joy in being asked. Who knew that my need brought them joy? They found their joy spots by helping me. Wow.
If getting help is the way back to you and diving more deeply into your dreams, then what do you need help with?
Dive a little deeper with these journaling questions.
How different would your life look if you asked for help?
What keeps you from asking for help?
If you dared, where would you ask for more help?
If asking for help feels like bending your knees backwards.
Here are eight ways to ask. Practice. You can do it. I’m doing it too.
- Can you give me a hand with this?
- Could you help me for a second?
- Can I ask a favour?
- I wonder if you could help me with this?
- I could do with some help, please.
- I can’t manage. Can you help?
- Give me a hand with this, will you?
- Lend me a hand with this, will you?
Ask for help-lean into what others can do to support you. There’s joy on the other side.
Lots of love,