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Life Hack: Ask For Help

I Hate Asking for Help

I’m the one who gives help and wisdom and all my goody-ness. I come by this trait honestly, being raised in a family of alcoholics. I had to learn how to take care, fix, tend, ignore my own needs.

I’ve come to see how this adaptation in my behavior served me when I was young, but now is self-defeating. I like the feeling of being the helper, the person who listens and maybe says a few things. Dependable, supportive, independent.

Equally as problematic, I don’t like to be told what to do.

Why Asking for Help is so Great

I was talking about this with friends and one of them said, “I feel great when i help someone. I love that feeling, but I hate asking for help myself.” They continued, “When I don’t ask for help, I am depriving someone I care about, of that same feeling.”

Mind blown.

This short exchange has changed the way I look at asking for help. When asking, I am giving a gift to someone. It’s not selfish or weak, it’s generous and kind! WTF!

I Need Practice

up (a speed limit bday), and between the pandemic and not wanting to ask for help… I didn’t know what to do. What should I even ask for?

Another stumbling block is when I finally do ask for help and the person says no. They may say it really nicely and have a good reason (which they don’t even need!), but still I feel defeated, deflated, and upset. Instead, I’m trying to learn to say okay, and move on to someone else. (This requires me to think a bit ahead of time about who I might ask and then write down some names!)

Why is this a Life Hack?

Because I get what I need (eventually), the person who helps, feels good, and I’ve helped someone else!

One twist on this hack relates to asking for advice. When someone asks me for help, I ask a lot of questions about what they are looking to accomplish. For example, do they want:

  • me to just listen and not say anything?
  • to just talk?
  • for me to share my experiences that are similar (if I have any)?
  • other?

The one thing I try to NOT to do, is give advice. I have no idea what this person needs to do. I’m not trained, my toolkit is small, I might do unintended damage, etc. I keep what I say in the first person, “I did this, I felt this, I tried that.” Instead of,”you should do this, you’re crazy if you don’t…, I can’t believe you haven’t…” One thing I know for sure, it’s easier to see someone else’s problems clearly. My own, not so much. That clarity is a simplification of the situation. It’s not real. The same way it’s impossible for me to tell someone else everything about my situation, we can never truly know what someone is thinking, feeling or what they need.

I try to be clear about what I’m asking for. I have some standard responses if the person starts to go off into ‘you should’ land. I say, “thank you for hearing me, this has been emotional (or tiring or whatever) and I need to stop now.

Advice,”you should do this”, is rarely welcome. The way we grow is to find our way. We just don’t have to do all alone.

The power of asking, at work, in sales, at home, with friends is important to recognize. For me, it starts with knowing what I want. Ugh.

Image credit: Asking for help


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