A few weeks ago I had a really tough week, my childminder was on holiday, my husband was working away and I was feeing ill. I knew I would benefit from some help but I found it almost impossible to ask for it. Fortunately for me a friend took the initiative and asked if I wanted her to bring my eldest child home from school. I hesitated but answered yes and immediately felt a huge sense of relief.
This got me thinking about why I had had to wait for an offer of help instead of just reaching out and asking for help myself. During a chat with my friend the next day I said “Why do we find it so hard to ask for help?” She replied “Because it makes us look vulnerable”. And she is right. Needing and asking for help can make us feel like we’re not coping, it can open us up to being judged and no one likes feeling like that.
Showing vulnerability is something that many of us try to avoid, asking for help can seem like weakness, especially when it feels there is so much pressure to cope, to get on with things and just manage ourselves. In her book Daring Greatly How the Courage to be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent and Lead, Brene Brown states that “Going it alone is a value we hold in high esteem in our culture.”
However, showing vulnerability by asking for help, ultimately leads to greater connection with each other. Yes it means we have to admit we can’t do everything but that is not a bad a thing. It’s ok not to cope sometimes and it’s ok to ask for help.
Imagine how liberating it would feel if we could shrug off the worry about how people might see us and just reach out for that human connection that comes from asking for help. Being honest about how things really are is also a lot heathier on both a physical and emotional level. Pretending that everything is ok can be hard work and can sometimes lead to added stress within our bodies.
To me self-care means taking care of ourselves and it can take many forms, whether going for a massage, doing yoga, singing, meeting a friend, going for a walk or just taking 5 minutes to step outside and look at the sky. It is doing something that makes us feel better. And yes, having a relaxing bath can feel great but sometimes we need more than a bubble bath! Asking for help can certainly be classed as an act of self-care as far as I’m concerned.
When I accepted that kind offer of help it created some space for me, it allowed me extra time to rest and meant I could manage the rest of the day a lot better than I would have done otherwise. It also made me feel relief, joy and gratitude. All things I would expect the above list of usual self-care tools to provide.
The connection aspect of asking for help should not be underestimated. People are always happy to help if they can, I know I am and this can lead to a deeper relationship. I love how Brene Brown writes about connection. She defines connection as “the energy that exists between people when they feel seen, heard, and valued; when they can give and receive without judgement; and when they derive sustenance and strength from the relationship.”
To me being seen, heard and valued are vital for us as human beings. If asking for help can lead to us feeling seen, heard and valued as well as getting the help we need with a particular issue then it’s a win-win situation.
If you take the plunge and ask for help, the chances are there will be people willing to say yes and it will have a positive impact on both yourself and the person you ask. When I accepted help I felt so much better. And it spurred me on to actually ask for help the next time I needed something. And guess what? I found someone only too happy to help out.
I still don’t find it easy to ask for help but I am getting better at it. How good are you at asking for help? Has there been a time when you asked for help and it really worked out well? Or has there been a time when you didn’t ask for help even though you needed it? What stopped you from asking? I’d love to hear your experiences.