Do you ask for help when you need it or do you struggle on alone?
How often have you needed help? How often have you asked for help? Do you find it easy to ask for help? Are you more likely to ask for help for some things but not others? Are you someone who helps others?
I’ve needed quite a bit of help over the past few months on many different levels – personal, emotional, financial, business, all areas. No need for details or reasons why but it’s got me thinking about the types of help that exist, how easy is it to ask for help, how easy is it for people to give help. Plus what types of help do people ask for and give.
How easy is it to ask for help?
I’m not very good at asking for help, I feel like I should be able to manage on my own, that somehow I’m giving away control when I ask, that it’s a negative thing. Some people feel ashamed, embarrassed, uncomfortable asking, they may view it as a sign of weakness within themselves, whereas it can actually be viewed as strength, as it means that you can recognise what you can and cannot do, and when you maybe need that extra helping hand. Knowing when you need assistance/help shows that you acknowledge when you maybe can’t do something on your own and that to continue doing so could be detrimental to you, your well-being, your health, your business and so on.
One of my previous blogs was about de-cluttering and one of my major jobs for a while now has been to de-clutter my attic of things that I just seemed to have held on to for the sake of holding on, in some way, to the past. The longer I put off this job the worse it seemed to be and I dreaded the time it would take to do it. But … I finally asked for help in doing so, something that I’ve kind of shied away from as I felt it was my responsibility, it was my past, my things, it should be me doing the job. However, having this clutter in my life was also cluttering up my mind and stopping me moving forward and I knew it wasn’t a job that I could do on my own so I had to stop the ‘I can do it on my own’ talk and just ask. I now have help and I’m pleased to say that the de-cluttering has finally started!
What type of help do people seek?
Help is sought for lots of things in life from the purely practical to the emotional – it doesn’t seem to be as hard to ask for practical help as it does for emotional help or for something that you’re learning to do. With regards to the latter it does depend upon who is teaching you and what you’re learning. Being a teacher/instructor myself it is important to have patience and be able to explain/teach things in a way that is understood and to remember that different people learn in different ways and not everyone can understand something straight away.
I have always encouraged students/clients to ask if they don’t understand but often when I myself have been taught or trained to do something I have had a teacher/trainer who obviously does not have these skills and has often demonstrated impatience or unwillingness to explain in a way that I could understand. This has often led me to not having the confidence to ask if I don’t understand, for fear of rebuttal or being shamed in a class, which has happened to me on more than one occasion. I have had some absolutely fantastic teachers/trainers but unfortunately it has been those who are not who have often hindered me in asking for help which in turn delayed my progress.
This is the area in which most people struggle to ask for help – having emotional/mental health issues has been a very taboo subject and has only recently started to be something which is gradually, but only very gradually, being more acceptable to talk about. I’ve said before that I’ve been referred to as being ‘too emotional’ that has only served to make me more afraid to ask for/seek help when I have really needed it. Many people experience these types of issues alone as they are afraid of letting others know what they’re going through – it could be because they’re afraid of being judged, of being criticised, of not being believed. There was a time when I was told by someone that I couldn’t possibly be experiencing depression/be depressed because, someone else they knew had been diagnosed with a very severe form of depression and how they were behaving wasn’t anything like how I was; I’m quite good at internalising. So, of course, I then continued to keep quiet about it, I still do to a degree, but I am becoming better and more open about it with some of my clients and friends who have confided in me about their experiences of this, at times, debilitating illness.
Helping others can often help you too, it can enable you to look at things from a different perspective, helping you to become a much more rounded and empathetic person. It doesn’t have to be a time consuming task, it can be a quick phone call, a text to check up on someone, a letter to show you’re thinking of them, anything that can let them know you are there for them.
Sometimes I think I was born to help others, I love sharing my experience and knowledge to help others, I love helping people grow and realise their potential, I love helping if they have a problem or an issue to deal with but I’ve had to learn not to do so at the expense of my own health and wellness. There have been times when I have become too involved which often doesn’t help myself or the person I’m helping!
On the other hand there are people who offer to help but then don’t, their intentions may have been good but their follow through not so much. You may think this isn’t such a problem but to the person that’s been offered the help and then when they’ve needed it, it’s not there, it can really affect them. It will make them less likely to ask for help in the future and could potentially lead to more struggles for them.
If you offer help mean it – of course life can get in the way, and often does, but try not to make offers of help unless you genuinely mean it and can follow through. I so often hear people say, ‘I’m always there for you’, ‘just at the end of the phone’ ‘don’t hesitate to ask for help when you need it’, ‘you can trust me, I’ll be there’ but … these have, many times, proved to be just words and the action hasn’t been there so what happens is you stop asking, you stop believing people when they say they’ll help and of course you then stop asking for help and struggle on alone. The problem with this is eventually if the issue isn’t resolved it will get worse and can cause further problems/issues along the line.
So, if you genuinely can't help then say so but in a way that is kind and explain why. You can always make suggestions as to where someone can get help and just be there to check in with the person so that they know you have their back. Then maybe when you're in a better position to help you can do so.
Being able to ask for help can be empowering, it can relieve you of some of the burden of managing a problem/issue on your own and enable you to recognise that you are a strong person who knows when help is needed.
The first step is recognising and accepting that you need help and, most importantly, not feeling afraid, worried or ashamed to ask. Everyone has problems and seeking help for yours is a sign of strength not weakness.
Identify what it is that you need help with, and what type of help you need. It might be something practical or it could be you just want to talk to someone about issues you might be having with something in your life, that you just can’t seem to figure out on your own, you want a sounding board.
Have a think about who can help, or what – it could be that your issue/problem could be helped by reading a book, joining an online group or it might be a professional that could help. It could be a family member, a friend, do choose carefully though because you don’t want to ask someone for help who can’t do so, for whatever reason. Sometimes some people just don’t understand or do not have the capacity to help. You also don’t want someone who has no empathy, is critical, judgemental or just tells you to get over it. There will also be times when you might just want someone to listen.
Take on board any advice, help, guidance you have been given – you may not agree with it, it may end up not being the solution you were seeking but … it may have opened you up to other ways of approaching your issue/problem.
Be thankful for the help you receive – always, always be grateful and thankful for what you receive, no matter how small.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help again or from more than one source – sometimes you’re going to need help from a variety of sources and/or people and this is fine – it again helps you to gain a wider perspective on what you’re struggling with. I read a lot, not just fiction, much of what I read is non-fiction and could be termed ‘self-help’ books – I’m not very keen on that description, even though yes it could be said to be an apt description, I just think these books can be so much more and open up your mind to many different ways of thinking and being. I also have different people in my life who I go to for different things, some are better at financial advice, others for business development, some friends are good with the emotional side whereas some are better at the practical side of things.
There is of course a balance to be achieved with regards to asking for help because, excuse the pun, you don’t want to become completely helpless! Never be too afraid, too ashamed, too uncomfortable to ask for help when needed (something you can decide) but … learn from the experience, take on board the knowledge you’ve acquired whilst receiving the help and … never stop helping yourself and never stop helping others.
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