On day 105 of my 366-day self-care challenge, I explored the highly underrated act of asking for help.
I haven’t always been very good at asking for help. I like to think that I can “do it all” on my own — the idea of self-sufficiency or self-reliance makes me feel independent.
But I’ve learned that this idealistic perspective not only creates unnecessary stress, but not asking for help from others limits my ability to support them in return. Asking for help invites opportunities to collaborate with others.
I’ve learned that I’m not the only one who struggles with asking for help either. For whatever reason, our culture tends to equate needing help with weakness. Nevertheless, vocalizing our needs doesn’t mean we’re helpless; it means we’re smart enough to leverage the strengths of others.
Asking for help is a sign of strength. While it can be fun to learn how to do new things on our own, it can also be a time drain (especially when it’s a skill that we won’t likely use again in the foreseeable future).
Over the course of my self-care journey, I’ve learned to ask for help. And it feels amazing.
It’s like having a giant boulder lifted from my shoulders, and it has allowed me to focus my attention and energy on tasks that were better suited for my skills. The outcome? I’ve accomplished a heck of a lot more.
When we ask our support network for help there are a few potential outcomes, so make sure you’re prepared before you ask.
Some of our supporters (notice I did not say all of our supporters) will jump in and help. They will connect with us, ask questions to learn more about what we’re working on, and lend a hand when and where they can. Often, they’ll mention something they are working on, and we’ll realize we can help them as well. See the cycle of gratitude and kindness? Asking for help invites others to share what they need too. When we enlist the help of others in our support system, we are often presented with opportunities to give something to them in return.
But some of our supporters won’t be willing or able to help, and we’ll need to be prepared to be at peace with that. It doesn’t mean they aren’t still our supporters. If we examine our own lives and our own limitations, it’s easier to understand that. We’re all busy. We all have deadlines. We all have a giant list of tasks that we haven’t been able to get to. Not everyone in our support network will be available to help, emotionally or otherwise. Be prepared to accept, and not take personally, the fact that some people will not be able to help.
In some ways, I’ve grown to love it when people in my network are strong enough (and honest enough with themselves) to say that they can’t help. It means they’re setting healthy boundaries in their own life, and that makes me happy. By not helping me, it means they are being true to themselves and their own limitations.
Get clear about what you need. Ask for help. Don’t be offended if everyone isn’t able to lend a hand (be glad they are skillful at setting boundaries). And always, always be grateful.