When was the last time you asked for help? It might have been something small like moving a piece of furniture or something big like managing your mental health.
Sometimes we see people in our lives who clearly need help, but for some reason never seem to ask for it.
My mother is a caregiver to her husband. Three years ago, he was diagnosed with dementia. Twice a week, I drive thirty minutes to her house to relieve her from her duties for the day so she can take some time to look after herself. However, this wasn’t easy to get her to accept.
Something usually stands in our way to prevent our asking for help. Sometimes it’s our ego, which makes us believe we should have the ability to figure things out on our own, to prove something to ourselves.
Other times, it’s because we are afraid of becoming a burden to the ones we love. Brené Brown is an author, professor, speaker, and researcher on matters of shame and guilt. In her best-selling novel, Rising Strong, she states:
“When you judge yourself for needing help, you judge those you are helping. When you attach value to giving help, you attach value to needing help. The danger of tying your self-worth to being a helper is feeling shame when you have to ask for help. Offering help is courageous and compassionate, but so is asking for help.”
We often deny ourselves help because we don’t believe we are worthy of it. But there is a strength and courage associated with asking for help that we rarely give ourselves credit for.
In my mother’s case, she has not only been the caregiver of her husband, but for her four children, her previous husband, and her immediate family after they arrived in the United States from Sicily, when was a child.
She believes her sole duty in life is to care for others. What she has never done in her seventy years on this earth is to ask for help so she can properly take care of herself.
Isn’t that the reason why we need to request other people’s assistance in the first place? Because we lack something and don’t have the ability to do it on our own?
Here’s a piece of wisdom for you: Asking for help is perfectly okay. As Brené Brown said, it’s compassionate to ask for help because you are showing compassion to yourself.
Besides, doing everything completely on your own is exhausting and wastes your personal resources. That doesn’t just mean your mental and physical resources, but your financial resources and precious time as well.
According to Green Residential, a property management company in Houston, millennials who are now between the ages of 25 and 32 account for 43% of the total number of Americans who move each year. I am one of those statistics.
Every year without fail, I’d move somewhere new. I’d bounce between New Hampshire and Florida, where different members of my family live. I’d spend a year living in a new city or backpacking across Europe on a new adventure. I could never sit still.
I was constantly trying to find a sense of home. But I never gave myself enough time to find solid ground and do the work to build a community in any of the places I lived. So at 31, I finally decided I would make one final move and plant myself somewhere for good.
When I moved to Tampa from Denver, I lived at my mother’s house for a few months while I looked for an apartment. I searched for hours every day, looking at individual listings online and hoping I could find something affordable and within proximity to my parent’s house so I could be available to help when they needed it.
After two months, I was exhausted. I’d spent far too much money driving around the city and dozens of hours feeling stress and anxiety. I was feeling depleted, so I finally decided to ask for help.
I reached out to a local property management company so they would do the heavy lifting on my behalf. Not only did they set up showings, but they also ended up finding the perfect apartment that met all my needs.
Requesting and accepting help doesn’t just apply to our personal lives. Asking for support follows us into every facet of our lives, including our careers. We tend to be afraid to ask for help at work because it might suggest we are incapable of doing our job, which only reinforces the association we make between needing help and our self-worth.
But if we never ask questions or seek guidance, we will forgo opportunities to learn, grow, and eventually become better versions of ourselves.
If it’s healthy for us to start asking for help, how do we do it? How do we set our ego aside long enough to ask for the aid we need? How do we identify the right kind of support that is necessary for our situation?
I believe there is significant power in listening. If we allow ourselves to stop moving, become quiet and listen seriously to what our body, mind, and soul tell us, we can ask ourselves those crucial questions. We can discover the kind of help we need.
Once we are there, it’s all about practice. My mother always says, “You have to practice flexing your muscles.” What she means is that, if there is an area in our lives we seek to improve, we have to practice doing it.
No one is ever perfect from the start, especially if we’ve spent years of our lives fearing rejection for seeking help, or making assumptions before we get a chance to lean on someone. We have to get out of our comfort zone, and practice flexing those muscles.
It’s also okay to get help from a professional the way you would with a personal trainer. You have to ask for that kind of help, too.
If you find yourself in a situation that leaves your personal gas tank empty, or your professional life is taking a hit, it’s okay to ask for help. It’s not always easy and can sometimes be scary.
But we have to let down our walls and become a little more vulnerable. Self-exposure is key to opening the door of happiness. Allow yourself to become unshielded.
Allow yourself to ask for help. Your future self will thank you for it.