In the February journal prompts, the prompt on day 18 was: Are you a person who asks for help? If not why not? I started the journal with, this is how I feel asking for help… It is this question that has prompted me to write about asking for help, why it is so hard and the benefits of asking for help.
In all honestly, I’m not good at asking for help. I feel asking for assistance makes me appear weak. I know asking for help is a strength, though I have past traumas that stop me at times from asking for help.
There are some scenarios today that I still need to push myself to ask for help. The list below is the strategies I am using and in some cases attempting to use when asking for help. Each strategy is discussed in further depth after the reasons I and maybe you too find it hard to ask for help.
The 10 strategies for asking for help are;
- Understand you need to ask.
- Decide on what you need help with.
- Decide on who you will ask.
- Identify the best method to ask for help.
- Stop assuming the worst.
- Recognise your fear.
- Take steps to build confidence and self-esteem.
- Write down where you need help.
- Talk to a friend or someone who understands what you are going through.
- Create a support system.
Go to the 10 ways to ask for assistance.
Below are some of the reasons I have encountered when considering asking for help.
Why is it so hard to ask for help?
There are many reasons you and I might not ask for help. Personally, I know I am more comfortable asking for help in some scenarios than others. For example, I prefer to ask for help on a one-to-one basis than in a group setting.
Maybe when you think about the different areas of your life you too may think of areas you are prepared to ask for help and areas you do not ask for help.
One of the main reasons I know I don’t ask for help is I don’t want to appear weak. Though asking for help is not a sign of weakness. I know asking for help is a valuable skill as not asking for help, especially at work can lead to burnout.
I dislike feeling incompetent and often think I should know the answer. I dislike speaking in groups as I do not want to appear incompetent. Fortunately, I am prepared to step out of my comfort zone. It is not easy, sometimes I still need to remind myself of the importance of asking a question or clarifying my understanding.
Research identifies that from early childhood we learn to be afraid of asking for help.
I understand the research as there were many times as a child that I was laughed at and ridiculed, therefore I eventually gave up asking for help in front of the class. Maybe this is why I fear speaking up today.
Fear of rejection.
All too often we think people will not want to ask for help. We have a perception of getting a negative response when we ask for assistance. Yet, people like to help others. It is in our nature as humans to perform acts of kindness. It feels good to help others.
Yes, there will be times people will say no. Their reason for not helping may be due to their current situation, they may be unable to help due to commitments, knowledge, conflict or their personal mental capacity.
A question to someone who cannot help is ‘Do you know of someone who would be able to assist me?‘
Not wanting to burden others.
Not wanting to burden others, is another reason we sometimes do not ask for help. People do say if they can not assist. Many people would want to provide assistance but they do not because they do not know that you and I who struggle need help.
Believing others need help more than you do.
In my workplace, I have people often say they will cancel a request for help because someone else may need it more. We are always thinking of others before ourselves. We do need to look after ourselves mentally and physically. A strength of self-care is asking for help when you need it.
I have goals I want to achieve in life and have noted a question to help when considering asking for help.
Will asking for assistance, help me achieve my goals or bring me closer to my goals?
Will asking for assistance, help you achieve your goals or bring you closer to your goal?
10 practical tips for how to ask or help effectively.
Asking for help isn’t always easy. Whether you’re struggling with an overwhelming task or feeling overwhelmed by life, it can be hard to reach out. But having the courage to ask for help is a powerful way to build strength and resilience. Here are 10 practical tips for how to ask for help effectively.
1. Understand Your Need to Ask.
Learning to understand your need to ask for help involves developing a better awareness of your limitations. Many of us struggle to admit that we do not have all the answers. Despite wanting to present as capable and independent, sometimes it can be beneficial to reach out for support. It’s okay – everyone needs help now and then. Reaching out shows how mature and dedicated you are in striving towards a goal or solving a problem. Showing vulnerability is proof of inner strength – it means you know how important it is to get the right kind of assistance when you need it most.
2. Decide on what you need help with.
Be clear on what help you need and how the person you are asking can help you. For example;
- if your goal is to get fit, you might choose to see a personal trainer for a fitness plan.
- if your goal is to start a journal you might refer to journal prompts to help you get started with journaling.
Rather than going into the situation without a clear plan, decide exactly what it is that you want to ask for. Whether it’s emotional support, advice, a favour or something else entirely.
3. Decide on who you will ask.
People all have different experiences therefore consider who will be the best person to give you some assistance.
If you are moving house and a friend has a truck, you may be comfortable asking if they can assist on your moving day. But, asking for financial advice from someone who lives in debt is most likely not the best choice.
When I had a cleaning franchise I did not know who to approach for assistance in working out static and non-static costs for the business. I approached a community organisation that linked me to a financial mentor. It was valuable.
4. Identify the best method to ask for help.
Decide the best way to ask for help. Some methods include;
- over the phone
- via mobile text
- online chat
- in forums
- during webinars
- at meetings
- during training sessions
I’ve found the online chat groups valuable with tech support when working on my blog. However, at work, I would ask in person or via email.
A question I’ve found good when asking for help is;
I’ve been struggling with … would you be willing to assist with …?
5. Stop assuming the worst.
One of the main reasons people hesitate to ask for help is because they are afraid of being judged or embarrassed. Take some time to talk yourself through the worst-case scenarios and remind yourself that it is unlikely to happen. If you need to use the ‘what if’ approach.
The What If Technique
The what-if method is used in risk management as a way to brainstorm likely outcomes.
What if …
- the first person says no – ask someone else
- the webinar is not taking questions – reach out via email or another method
Rephrase what you tell yourself and remind yourself that assistance is available, the answers to your questions will be answered if only you ask.
6. Recognise your fear.
In order to conquer the fear of asking for help, it is important to first recognize your fear and identify why you are afraid to ask. This can include anything from feeling anxious about being rejected or looking weak to worrying that you are inconveniencing someone else. Taking some time to objectively evaluate these thoughts will help you understand them better and ultimately build your resilience in the face of a challenge.
The way I challenge my thoughts is via journalling and mindfulness as the activities help with processing emotions and understanding what stops me from reaching out.
7. Take steps to build confidence and self-esteem.
Even though you may feel scared and embarrassed about asking for help, remember that it is okay to be vulnerable. Taking steps to build your confidence and self-esteem can help you to take the plunge a bit easier. Building your self-esteem and confidence does not mean dramatic changes in your life, small steps like exercise, positive affirmations, journaling or other self-care practices can help you build your inner confidence.
Have faith in yourself; know that when you do ask for help, you are coming from a place of strength rather than weakness. One of the best ways to improve your self-confidence is to live in alignment with your personal core values.
8. Write down where you need help.
If working on a project, or towards a goal and you are struggling, write a list of what you need help with. Writing a list helps you make what you need help with and will clear your mind. Brain dump all your thoughts. Creating a list will help you clarify what you actually can do and the areas you need help.
Write down what you need assistance with to make it clear in your mind.
I am a fan of brain-dumping at the end of the day. When I see the list of things I’ve written down I can easily identify what I need to research, what I actually can do and the areas I need help.
9. Talk to a friend or someone who understands what you are going through.
When I got burnout, I sought professional advice. Today when I feel overwhelmed, I talk to colleagues who understand what I am going through or draw on strategies I have learnt.
I have found in the workplace chatting about work struggles with team members helps bring the team together. We all share ideas and help each other.
10. Create a support system.
Family, friends, work colleagues, connections via social groups, life coaches, and mentors, are some people who could help in different areas of life. People provide assistance in different ways, some people will give a helping hand, others a listening ear and others will link you to people who can help you on a more professional level.
It’s worth remembering one of the main reasons many of our family, friends and work colleagues do not help is we do not ask.