“I need help” are often the hardest words for women to say. But therapist Julie Hanks says learning to ask for help could change your life.
Why it’s hard to ask for help
We’re afraid people will think less of us
We’re afraid of rejection
We’re afraid of looking weak
We’re afraid of looking imperfect
Why we should ask for help
1) We all have limitations
“It’s not the load that breaks you down; it’s the way you carry it.” -Lena Horne
I once worked with a client who really struggled to let anyone know that she needed help, comfort, or support — she felt the need to “be strong” and “have it all together” and feared that if she let others know her needs they would use it against her. I helped her to understand that this fear had roots in her early life experience, and not necessarily relevant to her current relationships. We worked toward helping her accept that she did have needs and wanted to be closer to others.
2) Independence is a myth
Goal is healthy interdependence, which is a balancing offering and receiving help in your relationships. The myth of complete independence is rooted in the US and Western States traditions of “rugged individualism” and the self-sufficiency. “Pull yourself up by the bootstraps!” That saying works well when you’re alone discovering new uncharted physical territory, but it doesn’t apply to those of use who are suffering or in need while surrounded by other willing people who, if they knew about our need would be more than willing to provide assistance.
3) Asking for help shows trust & builds bonds
When you ask someone for help you’re saying, “I trust you with something that is tender…my need, my limitations, my feelings.” Showing someone your need is a way to be vulnerable, connect on deeper level.
I remember the first time I held each of my four children for the very first time. I was overcome with love and tenderness, in part because of their vulnerability and helplessness. Infants let you know when they are in need, which builds bonds.
4) Allowing others to help is a gift to them
Think about a time when someone generously accepted your help or support. How did you feel? My mom recently had knee surgery and asked me to accompany her. I was available and happy to help support her that day. I felt good because I knew I could make a difference for her, in some small way. She was touched that I would take a day and devote it to caring for her. It was a gift to me that my mom asked for my help and then graciously accepted it.
5) “No” isn’t a personal rejection
If you’re afraid of someone telling you “no”, ask yourself why? What are you making their “no” mean about you? Asking for help and being turned down can be difficult, but it can be less painful when you realize that “no” is most often the other acknowledging their own limitations of time and energy, and not a rejection of you as a person.