Asking for help can be a very hard thing to do. Many people want to try to do as much as they can by themselves and are afraid that reaching out to someone else will make them seem weak. Other people are uncomfortable asking for help out of fear of losing their independence, afraid that someone else will tell them what to do or control them.
However, the truth is that you do not have to carry everything by yourself, and there is nothing “weak” about reaching out. Getting help from the right people should embolden and empower you, and is a very brave thing to do. Here are some steps you can take to begin asking for the help you need.
1. See Yourself as You See Others
Many people are harder on themselves than they are on others around them. We expect perfection from ourselves and judge every small perceived failure harshly. However, when other people come to us with problems, we do not treat them with the same cruelty, harshness, or judgment. When a trusted friend is having a hard day, it may be easier to react with understanding and compassion.
So an important step to getting out of the anxiety surrounding asking for help may be to imagine yourself as a different person. If someone you cared about was facing the same difficulties you are facing now, would you want to help them? Asking yourself that question can help you get past the fear of going to other people for help.
2. Go to People You Already Trust
Some people are going to be more helpful than others. Some people may be too consumed in their own issues to offer you support, or they may take advantage of you or be too controlling or dominating. Other people may be able to offer empathy and support, but do not have enough skills themselves to offer real help.
Think carefully about the people you know, and who might be the most likely to offer you the real help you need. Over time, relationships can reach a point where you feel safe with increased vulnerability. People who make you feel accepted and people with real wisdom to offer are the ones you should go to for support.
3. Find Your Tribe
Whether it’s dealing with childhood trauma, recovering from an addiction, or trying to start your own business, you are not the only one facing your particular challenges. Many other people are dealing with similar things, and have made it through. You don’t have to stay isolated and figure it all out by yourself.
Other people facing similar things can offer you real advice, as well as direct empathy for the challenges ahead. Look for support groups, opportunities for people with common interests to meet up, and other resources where people are forming communities to help each other. Knowing people dealing with issues similar to yours will make it easier to know where you can go for help.
4. Don’t Delay
When a problem is overwhelming you, it can be easy to simply ignore it, or postpone things until it feels easier. Unfortunately, difficulties that you ignore can easily get worse. Health problems are easier to treat if you start when they are minor. Financial problems will only get worse as you get deeper and deeper into debt. Waiting for a problem to go away is not the answer. Try to ask for help as soon as you can, whenever possible. The anxiety over asking isn’t going to go away except by taking the risk to reach out. When you decide to try to ask for help, do everything you can to make it happen as soon as possible.
5. Make it Mutual
Say “thank you” and express gratitude after you have been supported or helped by someone else. While there are times when you will get help from someone as a one-off thing, there are other times where you can build relationships of help and support. This means that you will have the opportunity to help them as well. Think about ways you can make a contribution to the relationship as well. A relationship where you help and support each other, both giving and receiving, can be one of the most empowering things in helping face your challenge.
Reaching out for help is often not easy. It takes an incredible amount of strength and courage to admit you can’t do it all on your own. However, what you receive from real help can be a tremendous boost to your recovery and healing process. With whatever challenges you face, there are people out there more than happy to give you a helping hand. Taking the step to ask can often be life-changing.