In the first two blog posts in our “asking for help” series this month, we discussed how we can re-activate our felt sense of needing help, and from there learn skills to ask for the help we need.
In this third post in our series, we will discuss the actual process of how we can get comfortable with accepting help when it is offered.
We may have allowed ourselves to get so wrapped up in our awareness of not being able to ask for help, or our belief that nobody around us is willing to offer help, that we have failed to recognize that we don’t feel comfortable accepting help.
Chances are, that is just because we have long since fallen out of practice.
But regardless of the reason, if we feel uncomfortable with accepting help, we may get all the way through the process of rekindling our awareness of when we need help, learning how to effectively ask for help, and then still not be able to actually accept the help we need when it is offered!
In my experience working with individuals who want to relearn how to ask for and accept help, this final phase is actually where many of us struggle the most.
As we make our way through today’s do-it-yourself culture, for many of us it truly is uncomfortable to allow ourselves to receive help! It doesn’t feel right, or normal, or natural, or comfortable – and women in particular may worry all the way through the process about imposing too much, asking too much, or being beholden to “return the favor,” in the process adding so much extra work to our own plate that asking for help really does start to become as unproductive as we feared it would be!
We can do this in a number of ways. I have often found that visualization seems to work well as a tool to prepare ourselves for accepting help. It seems that when we feel prepared for the outcome of our actions, we are more ready to accept the end result when it arrives. So if we can visualize ourselves accepting help before it even arrives, we are more likely to recognize ourselves in that role when we are actually standing in the receiver’s shoes, and more likely to favorably experience what it feels like to accept help.
In this way, we can also give our imagination something productive to do. Our imagination is usually all too ready to dish out vivid mental pictures of how disastrous asking for and accepting help might be. With constructive, proactive visualization strategies, we can preempt its regularly scheduled programming and put it to work visualizing positive outcomes instead!
So this week, as you are building on what you have learned about recognizing when you need help, and asking for that help, also make sure to visualize yourself accepting that help when it comes. Visualize how you will express your gratitude (to avoid adding stress to the process, be sure to choose something simple, like saying a genuine “thank you” or sending a sweet short note). Imagine the process of how you will show the other person what you need, including giving them any instructions they might need in order to provide help. Think of what you will do with the energy and time you freed up by not trying to arm wrestle the problem to the floor all by yourself.
Then give yourself a hug and a warm smile full of gratitude for being willing to accept the gift of help when it is offered! This is a courageous act, and you deserve your own gratitude for stepping out of your comfort zone to notice when you need help, ask for that help, and accept it when it is offered.
If you notice you are struggling with accepting help, and you feel uncomfortable allowing yourself to accept help even when it is offered, please consider contacting Southlake Counseling. In more than two decades I have personally assisted hundreds of people to learn how to accept the help both easefully and gracefully. If they can do it, you can too. Southlake Counseling’s staff of caring, highly trained professionals can help you begin to say no to the exhaustion and frustration of withholding help from yourself, and YES to joyfully embracing the help you need and deserve. Visit us today at www.southlakecounseling.com