We all have those moments in our lives when we need a helping hand from someone else. It could be something minor, such as asking your mom for a family recipe, a neighbor to watch your child for an hour, or a coworker to show you how to use a new program. Other times it could be something more severe, like asking for financial assistance as a single mom or talking to someone about postpartum.
No matter how big or small our request is, it’s never easy to ask for help. A lot of that is dictated by fear. You’re afraid that your request will be rejected. You’re afraid that you’ll be seen as “weak” or “vulnerable.” You’re afraid that others will embarrass you or believe that you don’t have what takes to be a mother or professional.
The reality is that it takes self-awareness and a lot of courage to ask for help. It shows that we know what are weaknesses and strengths are. It opens-up new opportunities to learn and grow. And, it’s beneficial for our health since it can reduce stress and anxiety. After all, if you ask for help right when you need it, you can address the issue before it become a crisis.
How to ask for help.
First, you need to overcome your fear of asking for help. That sounds easier said than done. But, people want to help you. In fact, we’re hardwired to be generous and empathetic. That means people do want to lend you a hand. But, because of something called inattentional blindness, they may not realize that you need assistance since they’re concentrating on the things that are most important to them.
The only way around this? You need to actually ask for their support.
Second, don’t make the other person guess what you want. Be as specific as possible so that they know exactly how they can help. It also makes them feel more invested in your request as opposed to feeling obligated.
Third, make sure that they have the time and resources to help. For example, if you had a question about your newborn’s health, and your best friend is a nurse who works overnights in the ER, then you wouldn’t call them when they’re at work or home sleeping. In this case, contact someone else who is available.
Finally, make sure that you show your gratitude and pay it forward. If a neighbor watches your kids, then be more than willing to return the favor. If a co-worker handles some of your workload while you’re on vacation or taking care of a family emergency, then you need to reciprocate. And, always thank them for their time, advice, or whatever support they shared with you.
Where can you turn to for support?
Hopefully you’ve gotten over your fear of asking for help. Now it’s time to find the best places to turn to for support.
- Friends and family. Whether if it’s your parents, in-laws, spouse, siblings, neighbors, or best friend, this should be your go-to support system.
- Communities, organizations, and services. There is no shortage of communities, organizations, and services that can assist you. It could be your church, a non-profit, or professional organization in your neighborhood. There are also support groups, such as Postpartum Depression Support Groups and Le Leche League that can assist with specific concerns. And, if there are no such groups in your area, you can turn to Facebook Groups of join an online membership site.
- Work. Find a workplace friend that you trust and can turn to when needed. If you work at a larger organization, meet with HR and discuss areas like childcare or flexible schedules.
- Therapist or counselor. Don’t wait until you feel overwhelmed. Speaking with a certified therapist or counselor can give you the strategies needed to overcome most obstacles.