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I haven’t always been very good at asking for help. I prefer to think that I can “do it all” on my own, and 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 excluding others actually 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. But vocalizing our needs doesn’t mean we are helpless; it means that we are 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, it can also be a time drain, especially when we don’t expect to use the new skill again in the near future.
As part of my self-care journey, I found the courage to ask for help. And it felt amazing.
It was like a giant boulder had been lifted from me, and it allowed me to focus my attention and energy on other tasks that were better suited for my skills. The outcome? I accomplished so much more.
When we ask our support network for help there are a few potential outcomes, so make sure you are prepared before you ask.
Some of our supporters (notice I did not say all) will jump in and help. They will connect with us, ask questions to learn more about what we are doing and lend a hand where they can. More often than not, they will also mention something they are working on, and we will realize we can help them as well. See the cycle of gratitude and kindness emerging? 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 will not be able to help, and we 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, it’s easier to be understanding. We’re busy too. We have deadlines too. We have our own giant list of tasks that we haven’t been able to get to. It’s the same for all of us. Not everyone in our support network will be available to help—emotionally or otherwise. Either the timing is bad or perhaps they don’t really have the skills you are seeking in the first place. Be prepared to accept, and not take personally, the fact that some people will be unable to help you.
In some ways, I grown to love it when those in my network are strong enough (and honest enough with themselves) to say that they cannot help. It means they are 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.
Need some help?
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.