In the last blog post, we discussed how we can re-activate our felt sense of needing help, and from there begin to identify what kind of help is needed. In this second blog post in our “asking for help” series, we will discuss the actual process of how to ask for help.
Asking for help can be problematic. Should we ask? Who should we ask? How should we ask? When should we ask? All of these questions and more jump in line ahead of the actual action of asking for the help we need. Each question demands our attention and detailed consideration before we can move a muscle or utter a word to say, “Help me.” Understandably, by the time we wade through the emotional and mental clutter these complicated questions cause, we are often too weary or discouraged to actually do anything about trying to locate the help we know we need.
I have lost count of the number of times I have discussed with someone at Southlake Counseling about their need for help, and after explaining the whole issue, analyzing it from every angle, and even working together to come up with a plan to address it, the person says, “but it would probably just be easier to take care of it myself after all.”
My question then becomes – easier on WHO?
Definitely, it would be easier on the recipient of the request for help…at least in the short run. But when we factor in resentment on the part of the party who has decided asking for help is not worth the hassle, and confusion on the part of the party who is aware of resentment building but not of its causes, it is clear that un-asked for help has a limited shelf life, and the fall-out later on can be disastrous for any relationship, whether it is romantic, family, friendship, career, or community-related.
So let’s spend a few moments right now simplifying the complex web of questions lying in wait just around every bend where genuine help might also be found.
Should we ask? I have observed that those who wrestle with the question of whether or not to ask for help are rarely the ones who will ever be guilty of not taking enough personal responsibility to do with they can on their own, the answer to this question is almost always a resounding YES.
Who should we ask? This question is best answered once we have identified exactly what type of help we need. Once we know what type of help is needed, the right person for the job becomes much clearer as well. So the answer here is – we should ask the person who can offer the type of help we are seeking.
How should we ask? Rejection is always a potential risk factor in any request for help. However, again in my own years of working with individuals who have been struggling with asking for help, I have also noticed how rarely the person they eventually work up the courage to ask actually rejects them. It seems we all like to feel needed, useful, and valuable, and it is harder than we might assume to turn down someone who sincerely approaches and says, “I need your help.” (NOTE: If you are still doubtful, think of how you would respond if someone walked up to your right now and said to you, “I need your help.” What would you say? Probably, “how can I help you?”!)
When should we ask? Ideally, within a few moments of becoming aware of the help is needed and identifying the appropriate party who can help. However, it is also important to be aware of our own inner state as well as the situation of the other party when we ask. Are they in the middle of a meeting? Did they come home announcing they’ve just had the worst day ever? We should approach the other person when they are free to talk, and ideally when they are calm enough to be attentive to our request. There is no reason to set ourselves up for reinforcement of the belief that no one will help us by choosing to ask at a moment when the other party cannot give any time or attention to our request.
So take some time this week and try these ideas on for size – don’t tackle all the areas where you need help at once. Just pick one area where you’ve been trying to deal with an issue or situation on your own and it is not yielding the desired results. Think of who you can ask for help. Journal about how you want to ask. Then pick a moment when the other person can talk, simply say, “I need your help” and describe the issue you need help with.
If you find that you are having a hard time with the process of asking for help, we invite you to contact Southlake Counseling. Our compassionate, knowledgeable, and experienced staff can support you as you practice asking for, and accepting, the help you need and deserve. If you are ready to say “no” to wearing the weight of your world on your shoulders and “YES” to sharing your burdens with others who can and want to help and support you, then contact us today at www.southlakecounseling.com