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  • Sharon Borland

#40 Asking for Help

Why can asking for help be so difficult and what could we do about it?

There are times when we can really benefit from the support and help of others. Sometimes we may find it very easy to ask for help, perhaps because we have no real choice or because we’re confident that there’s someone keen to help. There are other times when it can be really difficult. So why do we sometimes find it so hard to ask for help?

Asking for help and relying on others can cause us to be vulnerable. They may say no, they may not do quite what we want, we may be disappointed with the outcome. We may consider vulnerability to be a sign of weakness. We may have negative thoughts about what it means about us to ask for help – are we not clever enough, physically strong enough, resilient enough…etc. In short, we may believe we are not enough and, if we ask for help, others will realise we’re not enough.

What might it mean for the person we approach for help? Will they feel pressure to say yes when they really want to say no - because they’re too busy, they really don’t want to do what we’re asking, or they don’t know how to help? Will it be a burden and sacrifice they’re really not going to like?

If you examine the last two paragraphs or your own thoughts about getting help and ask yourself how much of the content is fact and how much is interpretation, you may see that there are few, if any, facts around. Let’s look at some alternative perspectives that could encourage us to ask for help.

There is likely to be vulnerability in asking for help - it takes courage to be vulnerable, it shows strength, and it can enable us to connect more deeply with others. Depending on the type of support you would like, there might be a much better outcome by listening to new ways of thinking or new ways of doing something. It doesn’t mean you weren’t enough, just that other perspectives open up new opportunities.

Great satisfaction and enjoyment can come from helping others, and it can help us feel valued. Even when it requires sacrifice, it can still have a beneficial impact on the helper. If someone says they can’t or won’t help, we can choose to believe that it doesn’t mean anything negative about us and that there’s another explanation.

We can do our part to make it a better experience for those we ask by making it clear they can say no. Be clear about what exactly we’re asking, including the likely time period; it might surprise you how often we don’t get the outcome (support) we hoped for because our request was vague. If additional help is needed beyond the initial request, don’t assume the same person will fulfil it, but consider asking again with another option to say no.

Our lives are lived out in community with others. Being in community with others is to love and to be loved. We all need help at some points in our life, so why not give someone in your community an opportunity to love you by asking for help.


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