Monday, June 10, 2013

Sanity Saver #62: Ask for Help

It's come to my attention recently that most people I know are pretty resistant to asking for help when they need it.

Myself included.

Whether the resistance stems from a belief that we "should" be able to handle everything ourselves, or that someone else won't do our to-dos as well as we will, or that asking for assistance is evidence that we're failing, we end up suffocating our own joy by not seeking out aid when we need it.

Not asking for help breeds resentment.

Have you ever had one of those situations in a relationship where you thought the other person should (there's that "should" word again...) just KNOW when you need help and offer to give it to you? So maybe you hold out, tight-lipped and tense just waiting for them to ask, and when they don't, your resentment grows and grows until you can't take it anymore and you blow up, launching a fiery attack on them about how you always have to do everything?

I know this one well. I bit Mr. W's head off because he didn't offer to help with some wedding projects in 2010. But I didn't ask him to either.

We need to be willing to ask for what we want.

Not asking for help can make life lonely.

When you try to tackle everything on your own, it can sometimes feel like you're the only person on the planet, condemned to bear the burden of your stress in solitude. Sharing the fact that you need help (even if the person listening can't give it to you in that moment) can ease some of the suffering. Knowing that there are people around you who care and who are willing to hear you out, in and of itself, makes the load easier to carry.

The other byproduct of seeking out help when we need it is that, again, even if the people around us can't be there in the moment, they may be able to shower us with compassion. "I've totally been there," can be a really great thing to hear when you're feeling overwhelmed and all alone. 

Not asking for help diminishes what you have to offer the world. 

Think about it: when you're totally overloaded by your task list, how do you show up in the various areas of your life? Do you have the time and energy to be the kind of friend, employee, spouse, or parent you want to be?

I know I don't.

When we don't ask for help, we can't give where it matters. And that leads to mediocrity, which isn't exactly the kind of performance I think any of us want to be known for. (Except when it comes to shower cleaning. I'll take a mediocre rating on that one.)

After going for a very long time without seeking assistance on a growing list of things in my life, this past week I asked for help. It was truly amazing how much better it made me feel. And I ended up getting to spend some time with family and friends, which was a huge bonus.

Where are you holding back on asking for help in your life right now? And how much better would you feel if you had someone to lend you a hand?


  1. Good advice. Although, given my current situation, your simple questions at the end have answers that are far too complex and esoteric for me to actually ask them of anybody!

  2. The part about not asking for help making life lonely? Oh my gosh, yes. That is so true. And being brave enough to do it is so hard, but it's not lonely, that is for sure. I find myself taking a deep breath and just *asking* a lot lately. Or just hitting send. :)

  3. I have definitely carried the burden at different times in my life ... and then something happens causing me to reach out for help. When Gavin was born early, I won't ever forget how friends/family came together to deliver to our home at least 3 meals a week ... it gave Sweets and me the freedom to focus on Gavin's health, which means we got to stay in the hospital a little longer each day, knowing dinner was already made at home. During that time, I don't think any one friend made more than a couple meals for us (spread out over 6 weeks) ... it was possibly the first time I really began to believe in the concept of "it takes a village."

  4. This is an awesome post, and I think we all need the reminder sometimes :)