Several weeks ago, I found myself around a table with close friends. The topic of asking for help was mentioned. “I hate asking for help,” a friend said. “I completely understand,” another empathized, “I’ll do anything I can to prevent asking someone for something.” As the conversation progressed, I listened as those around me applauded their self-sufficiency and lack of need for anyone or anything.
In all honesty, for me this conversation was a bit jolting, somewhat disorienting. That’s not MY experience at all. Life has taught me a very different lesson… I was born with a condition called Arthrogryposis, a congenital disability which leaves the muscles in my arms weak and the joints in my legs stiff. Simple daily tasks often prove to be difficult, and at times, impossible. Independence was always the goal my parents had for me. Doing as many things as possible by myself remains a personal goal today and, ironically, has taught me a lot about depending on others; about asking for help.
Before I tell you what I’ve learned, I want to acknowledge how hard it is to ask for help… Maybe you’ve said to yourself, “If I ask for help, I’m being selfish” or “It’s not that important – I can go without.” Have you ever caught yourself thinking, “I don’t want people to know how bad it is” or “Other people have it so much worse; I have it easy compared to them.”
I get it. Asking for help is difficult – it requires us to come face to face with our fear, which is no easy task.
I offer this insight, from my own struggles, in hopes that you experience the same breakthrough.
1) Asking for help is not the end of the world. Often, it actually propels people toward each other; it deepens relationships; it increases empathy; and it encourages genuine connection, which we all crave. I have more fulfilling relationships because I invite others to be on my team.
2) The reality is, we all have needs and limitations. Coming face to face with those needs and limitations can be difficult. You might be required to acknowledge an area in your life where you feel inferior, weak, or like a burden… Don’t shy away from those areas – use them as an opportunity to show up, dig deep, and challenge the false beliefs you’re living from.
3) Healthy dependence is important in maintaining a grounded, centered sense of self, not in opposition to it. Needing help keeps us humble, and it makes us more aware of the needs of those around us. Needing help might actually open the door for YOU to help your neighbor, co-worker, or friend. Connection invites connection.
4) Learn how to ask for help well. Your kindergarten teacher was right – say please and thank you! Be confident, respectful, and open when asking someone for something you need. DEMANDING rarely accomplishes anything; GRATITUDE accomplishes great things.
So… what does it mean if you need help? It means you’re alive. It means you’ve tried something and, perhaps, can succeed with the aid of another. I encourage you to find a few people you’d like on your team, and experiment with letting them help you. You can do this.
-- Nicole Sidebottom, LPC