How do you feel about asking other people for help?
For many of us, myself included, we are hesitant to ask for support. While we’re all different and we each have our own unique perspective, reaction, and process as it relates to reaching out to others, it seems that this can be quite a tricky exercise for most of the people I know and work with.
I have somewhat of a dichotomous relationship to asking for help myself. I can be a “lone-ranger” at times and often, especially when I feel stressed or pressured, try to do everything myself — either because I feel insecure about asking for support or because I self-righteously think that I’m the only one who can do it the “right” way. On the other hand, I can sometimes be quite expectant of others. For example, if I were sick I might think to myself “hmmm, if my friend were sick, I would do ABC”. Ah, to be human!
However, as I’ve also experienced personally and seen in others many times throughout my life and in my work, there is a beautiful place of balance between going it all alone and demanding help from others in an obnoxious way. This all stems from our ability to genuinely ask for and graciously receive the support of other people. The irony of this whole phenomenon is that most of us love to help others, while many of us have a hard time asking others for help ourselves.
Requesting support can often make us feel vulnerable. We usually think (somewhat erroneously) that we should be able to do everything ourselves or that by admitting we need help, we are somehow being weak. In addition, many of us are sensitive about being told “no” and by asking others to help us we put ourselves out there and risk being rejected.
What if we had more freedom to ask for what we wanted and for specific support from other people? What if we could make requests in a confident, humble and empowering way? What if we remembered that we are worthy of other people’s help and that our ability to both ask for and receive it not only supports us, but also gives them an opportunity to contribute (which most people really want to do).
It still might be a little scary, we may get our feelings hurt from time to time, and on occasion people may have some opinions or reactions to what we ask for or how we do so. But, when we give ourselves permission and remind ourselves that it’s not only OK, but essential for us to ask for help — we can create a true sense of support and empowerment in our lives and in our relationships!
Here are a few things we can do to have more freedom and confidence when asking for help.
A “genuine” request can be accepted or declined, without any consequence. In other words, if we get really upset when someone says “no” to us, not only were we attached to the outcome, it probably wasn’t a real request to begin with (it was a demand). When we ask for what we want, without being attached to the response, we have more freedom to ask and ultimately our chances of getting what we want are greatly increased.
There are some specific things we can do to make it easier to support us. Such as:
- Be open to the coaching and feedback of others
- Thank people for their support
- Let people do things to support us in their own unique way instead of micro-managing them
Allow the support of others when it is offered
When we put our attention on supporting other people, the Universe has a way of returning the favor. It may or may not always come back to us from the people we help specifically, and that’s okay. We want to do our best not to “keep score,” as many of us often do, but instead to look for opportunities to genuinely help those around us. When we do this, we remind ourselves of the power of support and we experience it as the true “win-win” it is.