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When Was The Last Time You Asked For Help?

Have you heard the quote, “do something uncomfortable every day”? It’s one of my favourites, but when you try to do something hard, new, or uncomfortable everyday, you’re going to have to ask for help every now and then – and this can be uncomfortable in itself for many people! If you’re anything like me, you might be wonderful at giving help, but terrible at asking for it. It can feel like admitting defeat or burdening others with our problems. But it’s something I am working on, both asking for help and remembering that by asking for help I’m helping others feel good too! Here’s what I’ve learnt in that process.

Let’s get right to the crux of the problem: why is asking for help so darn hard? Well, for starters, we humans have this pesky little thing inside all of us called pride. Maybe they were right when they made it one of the seven deadly sins… It can be tempting to keep yourself small in an effort to people-please and not rock the boat. We like to think we can handle everything on our own, like some sort of powerful and mysterious lone wolf, but the truth is, we’re all in this together. Constantly being alone and insisting you can do everything yourself is a surefire way to put a dent in your mental health and wellbeing because social connection and achieving things with other people is incredibly good for you.

I was reminded of this fact recently, as I was descending down into Knox Gorge in Karijini on a very hard hike. My dad was with us and I could see him struggling with the loose, slippery surface and his new poles. He was completely ready to turn back and not go any further – I’m sure plenty of you can relate to that headspace. So I started trying to help him by telling him where to stand or where to put his poles. I don’t know if you’ve ever tried to help your dad with something that he generally feels confident doing, but I’ll tell you that it’s damn near impossible. After a moment, we stopped and I asked what support would look like for him because he didn’t seem to trust me or want my help. Yes, pride was there but, when I really listened to what he actually needed, I discovered that I was going about it the wrong way. He didn’t want me to tell him what to do, he just needed me to stand with a hand out just in case. It made me think, how would I react to someone telling me how to do something that I’ve done for ages? That’s also why it’s important to ask for help and be specific as to what kind of help you need, but also to be an active listener when you are the one helping out.

On top of pride, there’s that nagging fear of being a burden on the person you’re asking for help from. Nobody wants to feel like they’re putting someone else out or causing inconvenience. You might feel stressed that the person you’re asking is already super busy or they already have things on their plate that are more important. But think of it this way: what’s the worst that could happen? They say no. And that’s okay because there are plenty of other people out there ready to help! In reality, asking for help isn’t a sign of weakness, it’s a sign of strength. Being able to feel the fear and do it anyway is one of the strongest things we can do! It takes courage to admit when we’re struggling and to reach out for support, but trust me, it’s worth it in the end.

Okay so we’ve gotten over the fear, escaped our comfort zone, and finally asked for help – woo! Now it’s time to see all the excellent benefits that come from it. First and most obvious, the job gets done! Whether it’s a typical ‘job’ like carrying something heavy or moving house, or something more abstract like asking for advice or just needing a kind listening ear, asking for help means that you can get things done faster, more effectively, and often with a little bit more fun in it too. You also get the added bonus of having another perspective on the problem who can present a solution or a plan of action you may have never considered before. It can definitely be easy to get stuck in our ways and think that it’s the only way to do things, and forget that there may be an easier way. Now that I’m trying to do more things that make me uncomfortable or feel out of my control, I’m finding there are more times when I need that extra helping hand.

The benefits of asking for help go on a two-way street, too. When was the last time someone asked you for help? What did you think or feel? I recently had a friend who was struggling with her exercise, and she asked me for help. We’ve been training in our home gym for the last few months and now she is motivating me to do more weights. This demonstrates how asking for help often builds respect and trust between people, and makes both parties feel good. So aren’t you making someone feel good by asking them for support and help? Just that little bit of vulnerability can be powerful and it makes the other person feel like they can ask you for help in the future as well. So don’t feel stressed about putting someone out when you ask for help. Chances are, you’re making them feel great and showing them that their skills and opinions are valued.

So the next time you find yourself struggling or in need of a little extra support, don’t be afraid to speak up and ask for help. Whether it’s from family, friends, colleagues, or even strangers, remember that you’re not alone and there are numerous people in your life who would be more than willing to lend a helping hand. And who knows? You might just make someone’s day in the process.


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