Self-sufficiency is often celebrated as a virtue in our current world – no wonder why many of us have developed a blindly independent mindset and refused to seek assistance from others. As simple as it is, asking for help is the first step to visualizing positive changes and living an earned life filled with fulfillment.
What Does It Mean to Ask for Help?
Asking for help is a way of expressing your needs and seeking assistance from those who are capable of providing you with the necessary support/ guidance. A fundamental – yet quite often overlooked aspect of interpersonal interactions, it is an act that transcends mere words or actions – for it embodies vulnerability, strength, and the essence of our interconnectedness as individuals.
At its core, asking for help means admitting our own limitations – that we cannot always do it alone, that life often presents us with challenges beyond one single person’s capacities to handle, and that you are willing to reach out to others for support. Such humility is the foundation upon which personal growth may take place.
Why Asking for Help?
- Strength in vulnerability
Asking for help is – quite often – interpreted as a sign of weakness; while it is, in fact, a manifestation of inner strength. It takes courage to lower the guard we often put up to protect our self pride. In doing so, we reveal our authenticity – an inherent form of strength. Being vulnerable enables us to connect with others on a deeper level – as it demonstrates our shared humanity and imperfection.
- Establishing trust & rapport
By reaching out to others, you are essentially saying that you trust them enough to let them into your world, to share your concerns, and to rely on their expertise or support. This trust serves as the basis for meaningful connections in life. Additionally, it enables us to appreciate and embrace the value of cultivating gratitude in life.
- Catalyst for growth
In requesting assistance, we expose ourselves to new ideas and insights. Whether it’s seeking professional advice, guidance from a coach/ mentor, or a comforting word from a friend, asking for help widens our perspective and reveals solutions we might never have considered on our own. At the same time, the act also provides us with the opportunity to refine our own self-esteem and become a more confident person.
For me, being vulnerable is asking for help from other people whatever it may be.
Why Don’t We Ask for Help?
For many of us, reaching out for assistance proves to be quite a daunting task – often due to the psychological barriers that stand in the way:
- Fear of being judged/ perceived as weak
This is particularly true within the current society/ workplace – in which self-reliance and independence are frequently overexaggerated as traits of successful people. The prevalence of people passing judgment makes us reluctant to seek advice, even when it’s evident that doing so would be beneficial. As such, the fear of deviating from common expectations becomes a formidable barrier to our professional development journey.
- Fear of rejection
Some of us may be troubled by past negative experiences – in which our pleas for help were replied with silence, humiliation or even betrayal. As a result, we refuse to extend our hand to others – even in situations when the stake is high. In such cases, it’s crucial to acknowledge that past rejections do not define our worth or our potential for growth.
According to a study published in the Psychological Science journal, 2000 participants were involved in 6 experiments – conducted to learn more about people’s tendency to ask for help. The result: those requesting help consistently underestimated the willingness of both friends and strangers to provide assistance, as well as the positive emotions experienced by those who lent a hand to them. This misalignment in expectations is defined as an explanation to why we are deterred from seeking support.
Read more: Living in the Past – The Problem of Dwelling on What Was
- Personal ego
Asking for help requires us to acknowledge our own limitations – that we don’t have the answers to every problem. Such an act of vulnerability is uncomfortable and anxiety-inducing for many – especially those in leadership positions and have reached a certain degree of success in life.
Successful people tend to have a very high sense of infallibility – which makes it extremely challenging for them to perform an act of vulnerability like requesting for assistance. Doing so would mean surrendering their control – and facing the risk of being perceived as less competent in the eyes of others.
Read more: Wanting to Get One’s Own Way – Why We Have the Excessive Need to Be “Me”
How to Overcome the Fear of Asking for Help
Admit that you need help
We all need help and it’s okay.
The first and foremost condition to overcome the fear of asking for help is to realize that everyone – regardless of their capabilities or achievements – inevitably requires assistance at various points in life. Such realization is a fundamental step to shifting your mindset from deeming the act as a weakness to understanding it as a universal aspect of human existence.
Embracing the fact that we all need help fosters the courage to seek assistance when needed.
Acknowledge your fear
Once the first step is done, it’s time to look into the reason behind your refusal to seek assistance – and come up with strategies for overcoming it.
Here is an exercise to help you out. Everyday, look through these question and ask yourself:
- Have I accomplished my daily goals?
- Do I require assistance?
- Have I reached out to someone for support?
- If not, what obstacles held me back?
This daily practice will provide the chance to retrospectively identify your own barriers, laying the necessary foundation for change.
If the idea of seeking assistance on a significant project or task feels overwhelming, let’s take it slow. Start by breaking down the task into manageable parts – and ask for help with a specific aspect or question.
As you gain confidence from successfully requesting help in these smaller instances, you will gradually become more comfortable doing the same thing later – within more complex situations.
When to Ask for Help
Recognizing the right moments to seek assistance is crucial to facilitating productivity, improving relationships and nurturing personal growth. Here are some key situations when it’s advisable to reach out to others:
- When you are stuck or confused: There’s no shame in admitting that you don’t have all the answers. When you encounter a problem or challenge that you can’t resolve on your own, seeking help is a wise choice to save time and frustration – while also promoting problem-solving and collaboration.
- When you are overwhelmed or stressed: Life is overwhelming at times, whether it’s due to work, personal issues, or other commitments. Asking for help at such moments will provide you with the emotional support and practical assistance necessary to regain balance and manage your responsibilities effectively.
- When you are curious or eager to learn: A desire to expand your knowledge or develop new skills is a perfect reason to seek help. Whether you want to learn a new language, master a musical instrument, or delve into a complex topic, seeking guidance from experts or mentors can accelerate your learning journey.
- When you don’t have enough resources: Sometimes, you may find yourself lacking the necessary resources – whether it’s time, money, tools, or materials – to complete a task or visualize a goal. Asking for help can help bridge these resource gaps and increase your chances of success.
- When the job requires more than one person: Certain tasks or projects are simply too large or complex for one person to handle effectively. In such instances, collaborating with others is essential to produce better outcomes and ensure a more efficient use of resources.
- When you want to build trust and rapport: Requesting assistance is an excellent way to foster trust and build strong relationships with others. It shows that you respect their expertise and value their contributions, thereby leading to mutually beneficial partnerships and collaborations.
- When you want to change yourself: Personal growth and self-improvement often require external support. Whether you’re working on breaking a bad habit, improving your physical fitness, or addressing a personal challenge, asking for help from friends, family, or professionals is a crucial step toward positive change.
Read more: Accountability Partner – The Often Forgotten Component of Visualizing Your Goals & Dreams
Who to Ask for Help
- Clients: Your clients make a significant source of input, especially within a professional context. They provide feedback on your products, services, and work performance – which allows you to better understand their needs, make improvements, and build stronger relationships.
- Peers & colleagues: Reach out to those who have faced similar challenges – and ask for their insights on the related matters. Joining peer support groups or networking events is a great chance to connect with people who are able to relate to your circumstances.
- Mentors: Mentors are experienced individuals who can provide constructive feedback, help you set goals, and offer advice as you navigate your professional development journey.
- Family & friends: In one of his sharing sessions, Dr. Marshall Goldsmith emphasizes that inputs from family members are just as important as comments from our colleagues – sometimes even more valuable due to their close relationships with us.
Read more: Soliciting Feedback – How to Do It in the Workplace
Asking for help in the workplace
How to Ask for Help Effectively
Precision is crucial to successfully seeking assistance from others. Clearly articulate what you need help with, providing context and details.
For example, instead of saying, “Can you help me with this report?” you could say, “I need assistance proofreading this report for grammar and formatting errors.”
In addition to being specific, make sure to communicate your expectations and the desired outcomes – so that it becomes easier for others to align their efforts with your objectives.
Be open to feedback
Being coachable is a critical component of asking for help. Most of the time, people will come up with insights/ approaches that may be different from – or completely contrary to your own way. Be receptive to feedback – and be ready to embrace others’ perspectives.
Read more: Receiving Feedback – Tips & Strategies for Mastery
Always express gratitude for the help you receive. A simple “thank you” can go a long way in acknowledging the time and efforts one has dedicated to assist you.
Gratitude not only shows appreciation but also lays the foundation for positive and supportive relationships.
Read more: Not Saying Thank You – Why Do We Often Fall Into This Loophole?
Asking for Help Quotes
Asking for help isn’t a sign of weakness, it’s a sign of strength. It shows you have the courage to admit when you don’t know something, and to learn something new.
The best advice I can give to anyone going through a rough patch is to never be afraid to ask for help.
Nothing makes one feel so strong as a call for help.
Asking for other’s guidance helps you see what you may not be able to see. It’s always important to check your ego and ask for help.
Strength comes from vulnerability. You have to ask the question to get the answer, even though asking the question means you didn’t know.
Asking for help with shame says: You have the power over me. Asking with condescension says: I have the power over you. But asking for help with gratitude says: We have the power to help each other.
Ask for help. You need it more than you know.
Help will always be given to those who ask for it.
J. K. Rowling
Asking for help is a profound and multifaceted act. It is a testament to our strength, an acknowledgment of our vulnerabilities, and a means of fostering connections with others. As we navigate the complexities of life, let us remember that reaching out for support is not just a practical choice – but a powerful step towards self-improvement and a life filled with fulfillment.
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