Asking for help

Do you find it hard to ask for help? I know that I do. Asking for help feels like failure to me. Like admitting defeat. Like people would think less of me if I tell them I’m not coping. Like I would think less of myself. Yet I’m always telling people to ask for help when they need it. Why am I so bad at taking my own advice?

My family is going through a hard situation, and I needed to ask for help. And man, did I resist. I was going to hold it together and nobody was going to help me. I am strong! I am invincible! Until one morning at 4am when I realised: This was it. I wasn’t coping. I needed help. And it was time to let down my defences and ask.

So I did. It was hard. Hardest of all was saying no to other people’s well-meant offers of help which weren’t actually what I needed. I had to turn down some kinds of help which wouldn’t have helped me at all, and ask for other kinds of help which hadn’t been offered. That felt risky. And no, it didn’t always work. Some of the people who said they’d help ended up not being able to. Some people insisted on helping in their own way, even though I’d gently asked them not to. There were moments when I had to be firm about my boundaries when it came to other people. (Boundaries is another area I need to work on, but one thing at a time, eh?)

But most surprising was that when I asked for help – even when I was very specific about the kind of help I needed – the sky didn’t fall. No one accused me of being selfish or greedy. No one said I’d failed, or that they thought less of me for not coping. And so many people came through, and helped. And it was amazing. My little family felt so much love and care and concern.

What I learned from this experience – which is ongoing, as our family’s difficult situation will likely be ongoing for a while – is that asking for help, while hard, is necessary sometimes. In fact, it’s necessary most of the time, but I’ve got to start with small steps.

So when is the last time you asked for help? How did it feel? And for a novice at asking for help, what advice would you give?

Have a great week.
Katherine Granich

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