When you’re struggling in a particular area – large or small, serious, or seemingly silly – do you struggle with asking for help? If you do ask, how long does it usually take you to metaphorically raise your hand to get the help you need?
There can be many obstacles that keep us from asking for help.
Last week I shared a simple, three-step problem solving process. But sometimes naming the problem and coming up with solutions is the easy part; asking for help implementing those solutions can be the real struggle.
Who or What Can Help You Solve Your Problem?
Once you’ve identified a possible solution to your problem, it’s time to pinpoint exactly who or what can help you get to the best solution for right now.
For a little while, put aside the reason you’re struggling to ask for help. Whether it’s your own pride or fear, not knowing who to ask, not believing there is a solution, not having the money to pay for assistance– set it all aside. Take a few minutes to brainstorm literally anyone or any service, product, etc. that might be able to help you with this problem.
Start with the people you’re most comfortable asking. It might be a partner or a friend, your parents, or a sibling. Neighbors and folks from church might come next. Don’t rule out asking someone you wouldn’t normally think to ask or feel comfortable asking.
What Are the Hang-ups That Keep Me from Asking for Help?
Once you identify the problem, possible solutions, and the resources you need, it’s time to figure out why you haven’t yet asked for help. There are a myriad of reasons that we might struggle with this. Here are a few:
- I can’t admit a weakness.
- I’m embarrassed that I’m struggling in this area.
- I should be able to handle this on my own.
- I hadn’t yet realized that I need help.
- I know I need help, but I don’t know where to go to get it.
- I don’t think anyone can help me with this.
- I don’t believe there is a solution.
- I can’t afford the help I think I’ll need.
- I know there’s a problem, but I can’t pinpoint what it is.
- I’ve been dealing with this issue for so long that I never considered that there could be a solution.
- People have enough going on in their life without me asking for help.
Just naming what is preventing you from seeking out the help you need doesn’t solve anything, but it can make an overwhelming or difficult to name problem seem more approachable.
Combatting the Hang-ups
- I can’t admit a weakness. Why not? Everyone struggles in some area.
- I’m embarrassed that I’m struggling in this area. Again, everyone struggles in some area. Maybe if you admit your struggle, it will make someone else feel comfortable sharing theirs.
- I should be able to handle this on my own. Can you examine that belief? What would you say to a friend who is struggling in the same way?
- I know I need help, but I don’t know where to go to get it. That’s okay. Someone you know (a teacher, mentor, friend, counselor, or pastor) can probably connect you with a resource.
- I don’t think anyone can help me with this. Even if you’re right, would you feel better if you shared this burden with a friend?
- I don’t believe there is a solution. There are few problems without at least one solution. Have you examined every possibility before dismissing this?
- I can’t afford the help I think I’ll need. There are a lot of ways to get help. You might be able to find a free or reduced cost resource, or perhaps you can rearrange your budget to prioritize this need at this time.
- I know there’s a problem, but I can’t pinpoint what it is. Try talking it out with a trusted friend or working through this problem-solving process.
- I’ve been dealing with this issue for so long that I never considered that there could be a solution. It’s never too late to start looking for a solution.
- People have enough going on in their life without me asking for help. Most people are happy to help when they can. Would you want to assist someone in a similar situation?
A Personal Story about Asking for Help
Pre-pandemic, my husband traveled for work almost every week for nine years.
It was really hard. Once or twice, someone asked how many nights a week he was gone and when I answered, “One to three,” they responded with something like, “Oh, that’s not bad!” Those casual comments made me feel as if it shouldn’t be as hard as it was. But I struggled a lot during those years.
Travel is just starting to pick up again, very slowly, and last week my husband took his first flight for work in well over a year. He was gone for four days.
Before traveling, my husband said, “You might want to see about getting some help while I’m gone.” At first, I brushed off the idea. I always used to do this, with very little help. The girls will be in school most of the time. I don’t even know who I would ask. I’ll be fine.
Then I came to my senses. Four days without my husband after fourteen months of almost no travel? It could be a difficult week. Add to that the fact that my responsibilities have shifted significantly over the last year, and I realized: I need some help. And, even if I could say that I don’t “need” it, you know what? I want some help.
I asked two friends if they could watch my preschooler for a couple of hours one day during the week. Both of these women are homeschooling moms. I had to battle the voice in my head that said: She homeschools. You should be helping her. I asked another friend if my kids could play at her house after school one day.
You know what? All three friends were happy to help, and the two who watched my preschooler offered to keep him much longer than the two hours I had proposed. (Yes, I have really amazing friends!)
You Can Do It!
Asking for help is one of those un-fun, un-sexy self-care practices that will pay off big dividends when it comes to forming you into a happier, healthier version of yourself that can show up to the most important places and for the most important people in your life.