Why Is It So Hard To Ask For Help?
It’s happened to me many times. I’d be overwhelmed and exhausted to the point of breakdown. I’d be daydreaming about a kind soul coming around and taking some of the load off me. Then that person would show up and I’d hear myself say, ‘No, thank you, I can do it myself’.
We, mums, are particularly good at rejecting help when we most need it. We’re used to being the pillars of strength for our families and we’re unable and unwilling to let go of that projection even when we’re inwardly falling apart.
Why we have a hard time asking for help
- We feel that we should be able to do it on our own. After all, we wouldn’t have been given the job otherwise. Yet, whether it’s something in our personal or professional life, we know we can achieve a lot more through collaboration.
- We feel that we have to be in control of everything. If we trust someone else with part of the job, it may not get done up to our high standard. Or we’ll spend so much time explaining what needs to be done to that we might as well do it ourselves.
- We’re afraid we’ll look weak or undeserving. This is particularly true for mums. If other people know we’re not coping, they might think we’re not enjoying motherhood… or even that we don’t love our children enough.
- We’re afraid that people will say ‘no’ and it will mean something about us – that we’re not worthy, not lovable or that no one cares. We forget that people may say ‘no’ for other reasons. Maybe, they’re really too busy. Maybe, they’re in the middle of their own crisis. Or maybe, they’ll say ‘yes’.
- We’re afraid that people will say ‘yes’ when they don’t want to and we’ll be a burden to them. This is usually the case for those of us who have a hard time saying ‘no’ and as a result over-commit. We dread that someone will ask us for help and we’ll end up adding yet another thing to our already impossible load and we assume that other people must feel the same way.
We may be able to continue on our own for a while, but sooner or later it’ll get too much. We’re social creatures, we’re not designed to function alone. Think about it, from the beginning of human history people have lived together in communities, helping each other.
Not sure how to transition from outwardly self-sufficient being to someone who can do with some help?
Asking for help: How to get started
To begin with, just start accepting help when it’s offered instead of rejecting it. Is someone offering you an umbrella when it’s raining and you’ve forgotten yours? Smile and say ‘thank you’ instead of the usual, ‘Oh, no, I’ll be ok’. A friend is taking her kids to a party and wants to takes yours, too? Enjoy your unexpected free time and try not to think how many lollies the kids will eat without your supervision, it’s ok once in a while.
The next step is asking for something small. If people say ‘no’, it would be easy not to take it personally and you may even find that hearing ‘no’ can be empowering. You’ll realise that people don’t just automatically say ‘yes’ to anything and it can give you the strength to do it yourself next time you’re faced with something you don’t want to do.
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