When did asking for help become so difficult? When we were children, insisting that we can “do it ourselves”? When we were told, as young adults, that “you should really learn how to do this yourself”?
Was it ever easy?
I’m better at asking for favours (Can you please hand me the salt? Can you please make me a cup of tea?) than I am at asking for help (Can you please tell me how to get to…? Can you please show me how to…?). It’s usually only when I really can’t see any other option and everything I’ve tried isn’t working that I’ll approach someone else and ask if they’ll help me. But why isn’t asking for help my first option? Why do I insist on struggling through it, spending all this time and energy trying to figure it out on my own rather than going straight to the source?
Of course, asking for help is often as much about finding the right person to ask as it is about the actual asking. But sometimes who you thought was the right person is completely the wrong person, and the person you dismissed is patiently waiting for an opportunity to give you what you are seeking.
My reluctance to ask for help is mostly driven from my fear of the word “no”. I admire the door-to-door salespeople or tele-marketers who move from one shut door or hang up to the next, until they get a door that stays open or a person who stays on the line. Because – let’s not forget – they may be selling the latest, greatest dust-busting vacuum cleaner or trying to find out whether your current mobile phone provider is meeting all your needs, but what they are really asking is “Will you please help me pay the rent this week?” and “Will you please help me save money to take my children camping this summer?”
I don’t know why I’m so scared of hearing “no” because no one has ever said that to me when I’ve asked for their help. It may be “I don’t know how to help you with that, but I know someone who can” or “I can’t help you right now, but come back to me later”, but never a dead end NO. More often than not, people offer more than I’ve even asked for or they offer something completely different to what I thought I was wanting, but it turns out it meets my true need perfectly.
Then the next question becomes: Am I brave enough to receive what they want to give me?
I used to think accepting people’s help meant I was weak/stupid/useless. It was only when I had to hold my hand out that I began to understand it takes real strength to say “I can’t do this alone”. I had to fight against my pride and ego, and stay open to what wanted to come to me. Aside from the obvious joy you get from receiving, there is so much to be gained in just the act of asking. You give yourself a little more strength, a little more power, a little more self-love, and you give the other person the opportunity to help, to experience the joy that comes from this act.
In my experience, asking for help is a bit like wishing. I may ask for what I need aloud or silently, to someone or to the sky, but I put my intention out there. The challenge is to trust that it will come. I may not know when or how, but help will come. It always does.
I just have to remember to say thank you…