Updated: Nov 17, 2019
Sorry (not sorry) to all of those now singing 'Help' by the Beatles.
It's worth stating that I hate asking for help. I always have. I've had to work at getting better at it.
Thinking back - At school, asking for help was easy. You stuck your hand in the air and maybe bleated "Miss/Sir" I don't get it" - you never actually said "I need help", merely implied it. As an adult I have learned that this strategy doesn't work quite so well.
So, why is it so hard to ask for help?
It seems truly ridiculous that I've had multiple conversations with my kids about how important it is to ask for help. I actively encourage them to ask for help - from me, their dad, teachers, coaches, etc etc etc... We've worked on strategies so that they can ask for help in a way that is comfortable and non-threatening. I've also supported other people to find ways to ask for help, So why do I struggle so much with it?
Bear in mind that these may just be my particular hang-ups about asking for help. Your's may be completely different. Either way, let me take you on a short tour into my overthinking mind...
For me fear is a biggie. What if they think that I'm an idiot? What if they say no? What if it's all wrong? What if I look... weak or worse, stupid? In reality, and when I'm not in the moment, I very much doubt this is what anyone is thinking. Why would anyone think those things about someone asking for help. I can't think of any time when I've thought those things about someone asking for help. Sometimes I'm actually quite chuffed that they thought I knew how to help - so I'm more than happy to help them. It seems that I would rather offer help than ask for it.
For some reason, I also feel embarrassed when I ask for help. Seriously... WTF?
You might ask "Why is asking for help embarrassing?" I would respond "I think that they might think ... [insert unfounded reason here]".
As I write, I realise how much time I've wasted overthinking asking for help. Not even thinking of different ways of asking for help, just ways of avoiding asking for help.
Fortunately, I have realised (finally) that it's time to practice asking for help. Quite frankly, I'm sick of learning things the hard way - life is too short to keep doing that.
If I don't ask for help because I'm worried about what I think other people think about me, the only person that suffers is me. I don't learn to do the new things. I end up making the same mistakes over and over. I get stuck and frustrated. That makes me grumpy.
The joy of asking for help
Over time I've found that people (generally) like to help. They like to be seen as experts, solve problems, try different ways of doing things - heck, they might even learn new things. FRom experience, I have discovered that asking for help relieves the pressure I put on myself. It means that I can ease up on knowing things, or doing things perfectly. I learn new things, new ways of completing tasks, things that make my life easier. It makes me less grumpy - which can only be a bonus for those around me.
Best of all - asking for help gives me an opportunity to build relationships. Asking for help has got me some great connections over the last few months. It has also helped me to learn so much. I've got more from asking for help than I ever did procrastinating and overthinking.
So, if you find it hard to ask for help - spend some time reflecting on what's holding you back. Then ask yourself:
what is the worst that can happen if I ask for help?
what am i missing out on if I don't ask?
Once it's done, (yay) think about what you achieved, what you've gained and how the next time it will be easier.
Don't be this person thinking about asking for help!