Asking For Help: Why We Suck at It & How to Push Through It

Ever wonder why it’s so hard to ask for help? Sure, I’ll ask for help with stuff I can easily do myself like Googling things, passing me something that would otherwise involve me getting off the couch, or anything related to cleaning. But when it comes to things I actually need help with, I suck. Somehow, I think I should be super-human with the big things.

What gives?

In a world that encourages self-sufficiency, most of us avoid being vulnerable at all costs. It’s a manifestation of fear, whether it’s a desire to seem perfect, a fear of abandonment, or the need to be liked.

The irony of it all, is that asking for help is actually a gift for both people. When we ask for help, we’re creating a bond. We’re saying, “Hey, I just want you to know that I’m human, feel free to be human around me, too!” And that shit can be scary. Looking at it from the other side, I love when people ask for my help. It’s a form of trust and attachment. It also reminds me that I, too, can turn to that person if I’m ever in need of help.

Every time you decide to suffer in silence, saying “I got this!” you rob people of the chance to show up for you. I’m not trying to turn you into a lazy couch potato who treats everyone like an intern. There’s a happy medium that involves getting off your ass when you want a glass of water and calling a friend to help you through a rough patch.

And this brings me to a question I often hear: Whom do you ask for help?

This took me a very long time to learn. So pardon the personal rant:

As a recovering codependent, I was a huge fan of putting all my needs on specific people. Often, they were the wrong people. And they sucked. It’s not that they didn’t care or didn’t love me, it’s just that they weren’t able to give me what I needed. Whether it’s my mother who told me “just don’t think about it, try distracting yourself” or a boyfriend who’d say  “you’re making mountains out of molehills,” my needs weren’t being met. Yet, I was attached to the idea that these people SHOULD be able to support me. So I kept going back. At some point, I had to accept that I wasn’t asking them for help, I was asking the people I wanted them to be for help. And much like banging your head on a wall and expecting the wall to hurt, I was the issue, not them.

While half the battle was accepting people as they are, the other half was changing my pattern. After all, I was so used to asking them, that asking others felt really uncomfortable. Eventually, I learned how to be vulnerable by employing my ability to push through discomfort and my natural OCD-esque tendencies.

I needed to build a track record of seeing how asking for help from new places yielded better results. And so I used a chart, much like the one below, in order to create healthier habits. While it can still be uncomfortable, I try to remember that just like building any new muscle, you get sore before you get strong.

In the end, asking for help is scary, but you know what’s scarier? Closing yourself off, denying your needs, and not using it as an opportunity to grow. So will you pass me the remote control? I don’t feel like getting off the couch right now :) 

I'd love to hear from you! How do you feel about asking for help?