Need Help? Just Ask
If you need something – ask.
Whether it’s help with the housework from your partner or children, shared caring responsibilities, support in your job or expertise for your business, don’t wait for someone to notice that you need help.
Make your request, explaining what you need and why, and then be prepared to negotiate or turn to another source of support.
Remember that others can choose to respond or not – so don’t get hung up on one particular person being the one you need to help you. Sometimes you’re so busy looking at one person, waiting for them to ‘give’, that you don’t notice the person behind you offering what you need. And sometimes progress comes from saying ‘I need help!’ to yourself, if you’ve been denying it until now.
You don’t have to ask someone you know – don’t underestimate the kindness of strangers. And if you don’t know if an organisation exists to help people with the issue you’re facing, make it your business to find out. Until you need such places, you’re probably not aware of their existence.
Maybe you’re scared of looking weak? If so, ask yourself: would I rather appear strong whilst suffering or move forward, feeling better? Allowing yourself to be vulnerable is a much greater type of strength than the defensive, brittle kind. Accepting you need help is often the hardest step. But if you’ve already been trying to solve your problem, you haven’t yet managed to, and you think there could be serious consequences, it’s time to admit to yourself that you need help.
Maybe you’re scared of people saying no? Remember that they do have that right, and that it’s okay; don’t waste time and energy being angry at them. Instead, keep making the request, of different people, or in different ways, until you get the help you need. History is full of success stories of people who just kept asking.
Ask the internet!
We’ve the biggest library and network in the world at our fingertips – are you using it? If you normally wouldn’t think of looking online for answers, get comfortable with basic online research – find websites that share information with good sources, forums where people share their personal experiences, tips and strategies, and online courses that can give you the information and skills you need. Knowledge is confidence! You can’t believe everything you read on the internet, but you can get skilled at detecting which sites are credible sources of information.
When you need serious help
Of course, there are times when we are facing serious issues or even crises, and asking for help is a major, difficult step.
If this is where you are right now, please ask for help from someone you trust or from an organisation that can help. Whatever you’re facing, other people have gone through it and come out the other side. Let people who care and have expertise help you.
For a message of hope from people who once felt like giving up, I just love this video by Pixar employees. It gets better.
Can you say yes to someone in need?
If you feel you’re in a position to help others, look for ways in which you could do so. It could be anything from giving some time to a friend or family member who’s struggling with their workload to volunteering for a local charity. Maybe you’d like to get involved in a mentoring scheme – sharing your business expertise with a start-up, or your life experience with a young person. Perhaps you’d like to start or join a ‘Giving Circle’; a formal or informal network of givers who come together to decide where to donate money (and perhaps time and expertise) to support people and organisations in their communities. Do an internet search to find one in your area, or information on how to create one.
This post was first published on dreamdolove.com in November 2011, and was updated for my Sunday Irish Mirror column in December 2014.