• Chantal Porter

How To Ask For Help When You Need It

Updated: Aug 27, 2019

This topic can easily divide any room.

Asking for help is either a struggle or a breeze, there is no middle ground. No one is exempt from needing help from time to time. Whether it is with holding the door while you balance groceries; needing an explanation at work relating to the latest software, or maybe with things that are more personal and hit much too close to home. If you have no problem asking for help, then I’m excited for you. However, here are a few things to note about asking for help.

Reasons for the struggle:

1. Burden.

Nobody likes to feel like a burden. This is learned behaviour and it can serve us well in many scenarios where showing consideration is necessary, but it has the opposite effect when it comes to getting help. Nine times out of ten, others are happy to give a helping hand, so opting to suffer in silence is as unnecessary as it is painful.

2. Shame

Asking for help is often associated with weakness and ignorance. There is a kind of vulnerability that comes with the territory and that often breeds shame. In many cases, you may feel prejudged before you even open your mouth to ask for help.

3. Pride

Quite similar to the issue of shame is pride. An unwillingness to accept limitations can lead to grande overestimation of our capabilities and this often leads to more problems (for eg. burnout, anxiety etc).

Who to ask for help:

A big part of asking for help is knowing who to ask for help. One huge reason for the struggle with asking for help is that you may not be sure who to ask. At the heart of this is a trust issue. This is a very valid issue and it may have been taught either directly or indirectly.

Whenever you find yourself in situations where you actually need help, here are a few characteristics to look for in the people you ask. These characteristics will vary depending on the nature of the problem that you need help with.

1. Someone that cares

Asking for help becomes easier when you feel safe. If you already know that the person cares about you, it makes it easier to trust them and ask for help. This person may have access to information, resources or experiences to draw from to assist. When you confide in someone that cares, even if they are not able to provide you with the help that you need directly, they may be able to point you in the direction of the actual help that you need (and they will be more than willing to do so).

2. Someone who can

The nature and severity of your problem is a compass for the solution. Technical issues require technical solutions. In the workplace, it may be taboo to ask for help, for a fear of seeming incompetent. In our personal lives, it is easier to put on a show than wave a white flag with a question mark. If you want the issue to be solved, however, find someone who can actually help you. This doesn’t need to be a friend. A doctor, a financial advisor, a customer service rep, a therapist, a passer-by, a police officer, a teacher or a friend. Whether the help is free or hired, if they can help fix the problem, this is the person you need to find.

3. Someone who will.

There are those who can help and then there are those who will help. If you know a person is competent in an area but is probably really selfish, isn’t welcoming to strangers, or has a higher fee than you are capable of paying, then these are usually red flags. To save yourself the frustration and depression that is associated with any kind of rejection, don’t waste time asking those people for help.

Why ask for help?

The reality is, as humans we are not omni-anything. We are not omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient...none of it. More than that, we are capable of being hurt on a physical and emotional level. With all these being a part of the biography of man, it is important that when needed, we seek out the right avenue for receiving the kind of help that we need that is relevant to our circumstances.

Believe it or not, we were not made to walk this earth alone. Do not endure suffering of any kind in silence. Asking for help is not a sign of weakness, it is a marker of confidence and an indicator of self-awareness and strength.

Ask for help when you need it

“My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style.” —Maya Angelou

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