How To Ask For Help
When I was at some of my lowest points, I remained quiet. The deeper down I went, the harder it got for me to find my voice. Rather than ask for help, I drowned out the voice that told me I needed to.
I emphasize to others the importance of talking about what’s going on and reaching out, but I also realize how difficult it can be to do that. There’s no guidebook on how to ask. We aren’t taught how to reach out to someone else. Here are some things it took me a long time to learn and some tips on how to start.
Asking for help is not a weakness
Let me repeat: Asking for help is NOT a weakness.
I resisted getting help for so long because I thought it made me weak. As a society, we emphasize the importance of independence. We instinctively reply “fine” when we’re asked how we’re doing, even if we’re not. We don’t raise children in a communal setting and we praise those who “pick themselves up and overcome.”
What I realized after getting help is that it’s completely the opposite. Asking for and receiving help shows that you care about yourself. It shows good self-awareness that you know you can’t possibly do everything (and you can’t). It’s a form of self-care and one of the best things you can do for yourself.
I no longer view asking for help as something weak, but something smart. Something courageous. Because even though you may start to do it more often, it’s still always a little difficult — especially when you’re struggling.
Admit to yourself that you need help
The first step is actually accepting that you can’t do everything yourself and that you need help. We’re often first in denial with ourselves about our ability to handle life without the assistance of anyone else. As soon as you can admit that you can’t do it on your own, you can start finding people who can help.
Reach out to someone who makes you feel safe
This will look different for everyone. For some, a safe person can be a family member. For others, family may not be safe. Think about people in your life that make you feel safe and who you can potentially be vulnerable with. Some potential options are:
- family member
- close friend
- mental health professional
- member of faith if you’re religious
- significant other
You don’t need all the answers
My problem in asking for help was that I felt like I needed to have it already figured out before asking. Often, people realize something is off and they may need outside help, but don’t know what kind or who to get it from. My advice is to simply start talking. You may be surprised at the answers you get and the type of help you receive.
Sometimes we just need help with every day things. Maybe you have children and need a break now and then. Maybe you are feeling lonely and simply want someone to talk to. With the state of the world right now and the lack of human interaction, it’s no surprise that we are struggling.
Personally, as much as I’d like Neil to read my mind, I’ve learned over nine years that he just can’t. If I’m worn out from watching Miles all day, I’ll ask him to do bedtime so I can sit and relax. It’s so much better for me than trying to power through and being exhausted all evening.
Also, if people offer to help, they want to help. Let them.
The more serious and difficult the problem is, the harder it becomes to ask. We’re worried that people won’t understand, will judge, or there may be consequences for us opening up. How do we even start opening up about tough topics? There’s a post for that.
Sometimes, you just have to go for it. Remember, nothing changes if nothing changes.
Maybe you’re not the one who needs help, but you’re concerned about someone else who may. This is another hard area to navigate because we also aren’t typically taught how to broach these topics in a tactful, empathetic way. This post focuses on talking to someone if you think they have an addiction problem, but the ideas are the same if you suspect anything going on.
Another helpful post if you’re questioning just how much help you may need: How To Know If You Need Professional Help