Asking for help can be a struggle. You might be embarrassed to ask or may feel awkward and exposed, especially in the world of social media where everyone seems to be ‘living the dream’. But, if you can reframe your mindset and instead see asking for help as a strength instead of a weakness, it can improve your self worth AND free you up to live life more fully.
We understand how hard it can be to be vulnerable and we work on it every day too. But, sometimes relinquishing control and a simple request for help can be so liberating (and may even result in a ongoing support system!).
“I have been divorced for the past eight years, and am truly living the ‘it takes a village’ dream,” Arielle Band, Founder of Colibri Life, says. “There are a few women in our local neighborhood that have become ‘moms’ for my daughter and I am a ‘mom’ for their kids. We host community dinners where all of the kids are at one house while the other two get a break, help each other out when someone is sick or working late hours and essentially are there for each other when we need a hand! We have truly recreated a ‘village’ across our families that has become invaluable and provides a broader sense of family for us all.”
And, all of this started with a simple request for help.
How do you ask for help?
A key part of asking for help is just being authentic. As women, we are inclined to support others in need when we are able. But, try to make sure you are coming from a place of need, not neediness. It can be more challenging to solicit help from someone if they think you might become a drain on their resources or energy reserves.
Before you ask for help, practice a few deep breathing exercises to you can get grounded in your needs and calm your feelings. Then, when you ask, try to be as clear and specific as possible about the type of help you need. Being specific makes it easier for the person you are asking to say yes as they know the extent of the help they are offering.
If you can, try to reach out well before your breaking point. Again, the calmer you can be with your request the more likely you will get a positive result. And, make sure you are asking the person at a time and place that is convenient for them and when they have time to listen and give you their full attention.
If people give you advice (which is a good possibility), be open to their suggestions. Try to shift from a “Yes but…” mentality where you explain all of the reasons why an idea won’t work to asking questions to try to solve the challenges you see with the solution. By being open to suggestions, individuals are more likely to continue to offer support.
Once you do have a plan, thank them for the support and make sure you follow-up with them on what you discussed. Closing the loop is an important step to let people know you heard them and took action on their recommendations. While this can be an extra step that you think you don’t’ have time for, it is one of the most important to make sure that individual will be there for you in the future.
Now…Who Do You Ask?
‘Who?’ can be a little bit more challenging to address then how. Who you ask really depends on what support you need. ‘Who?’ could be a professional (check out our Specialists if you need a recommendation – remember annual members receive significant discounts!) or a friend or your place of worship.
To narrow down the ‘who?’, think about the type of support you need (getting grounded and really defining your need as noted in the ‘How?’ section can help here). Once you have finished your list, jot down 3-4 people or organizations you would feel comfortable talking to and sharing your concerns. Think of folks that won’t judge you, who you feel safe with and that will understand what you are going through and have the skills to help you deal with it.
It might be too hard to talk face-to-face right now and that’s okay. Reach out via phone or text or email. The conversation can definitely start there!
“We all need help throughout our lifetime… It’s vitally important that we help each other, because society is increasingly placing people in silos based on biases and ideologies. And we must look past the surface and be confronted with the truth that none of us are what you can see. There’s more to us than that, and we’re all dealing with things that you cannot see. So living a life free of judgment allows all of us to share those experiences together and have a totally different perspective…”
Wherever you start, take action and ask for it when you need help. If you think you can make the problem go away yourself, you may be putting up barriers that become harder to break through when you really need support. You don’t need to continue with the struggle and potentially head toward issues of depression or anxiety.
It’s a small step to ask for help and get yourself to a place of health and stability. What do you think is stronger? Struggling and waiting for things to fix themselves or reaching out for a hand? We think the answer is pretty clear.
Need more inspiration on the value of asking for help when you need it? Check out this TED Talk by Michelle Sullivan.