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Humans need each other and yet, some of us have a lot of trouble asking for help.
We’re quick to show up for the people around us, but even when our needs becoming overwhelming, we still can’t bring ourselves to get support.
Understanding what’s creating the obstacles can help us break through them so we can lean on our relationships in healthy ways.
1. We’ve been burned in the past.
We asked for support and nobody showed up. The rejection made us feel worthless, and we don’t want to go through that again. Unfortunately, this may be a little bit our fault. If we spent years accidentally training people to believe we’ve got it all handled, they may need some re-training. It could take a few asks before they finally get it. Don’t give up.
2. We asked the wrong person.
Some people are incapable of supporting others and some people are just plainly unwilling. Maybe we asked a chronic taker who doesn’t value helping. It could be that the person we asked had too much of their own stuff going on. This is especially true for those struggling with addictions, mental health, and trauma.
One of the side effects of being someone eager to help others is sometimes being surrounded by people who need help. Momentarily, it’s a good match, but not long-term. When someone’s life is filled with needy people, nobody is there when they need support. It’s time to level up that inner circle.3.
3. We’re overly concerned with other people’s needs.
This is pretty common in women, especially moms. It takes a long time for a human to develop their ability to care for themselves, so we spend years putting our needs after our children’s. When the baby is crying, what are we gonna do? We take care of them.
If it only takes 21 days to develop a habit, what would five years do? Helping becomes automatic. We still do it even when they don’t need it anymore, and because it’s such a strong habit, we may do it in other areas of life as a knee-jerk reaction.
We also do this when we’ve learned in our own childhoods that the safe way to stay connected to our primary caregivers was to minimize our own needs. That habit can go back way farther than our early parenting years and may feel almost woven into our DNA. It’s time to break that habit, one need at a time.
4. We’re afraid of being rejected, dismissed, abandoned, ignored, or judged.
These fears can feel extremely real. We don’t want to disappoint others and we don’t want to be disappointed, so we convince ourselves that the safer option is to never ask at all. That also goes back to childhood. Most of us are walking around with some childhood wounding connected to one of those fears. It’s okay.
The good news is that it’s normal. We are normal. One of those scary things may happen, but if we believe that it’s not a reflection of us, we’ll be a lot more likely to ask for what we need and desire.
5. We don’t trust others to show up or show up correctly.
You know the old (incorrect) saying that if you want it done right, you have to do it yourself? I don’t know who said it but they had trust issues.
There’s a way bigger problem here. When someone can’t ask for help because they don’t believe someone else can do it the right way, that not only causes more work for them but also more isolation and disconnection. The only way to build that trust up is to practice asking and receiving.
All of these suggestions won’t matter unless we see the value in asking for help, so let’s sweeten the deal even more.
When we ask people for help, we’re extending an invitation.
Helping someone feels good. As long as we’re not overwhelmed or being misused, it feels awesome when someone comes to us for help. It means we’re an important part of their life. The same goes for the people we ask.
We’re opening ourselves up. We’re letting them see our vulnerable side, which helps people know the real us in all our authentic glory.
We may make relationships easier by not asking for help, but we make them more intimate when we do.