When It’s Hard to Ask for Help

A meme of two cats with their thumbs up

Hey, it’s me, calling you out (and myself ngl) with memes again. 

Do you struggle to ask for help? I do. One of my coaches suggested to me that I start asking for more help in our Facebook group, and my eyes literally started watering. 

I said I would, but even as I did, I felt a familiar knot in my chest—so familiar I barely notice it’s there a lot, probably more often than I’d like.

I’ve spent a good chunk of the afternoon just thinking about why something so simple and necessary kicks up so much drama in my brain. The answer is the same answer I always come back to: it’s because of what I believe about asking for help. More specifically, what it means about ME if I ask for help:

  • “I can’t be truly proud of something if I don’t do it on my own.”
  • “I don’t want to be a bother or waste anyone’s time with my problems.”
  • “I can just figure it out myself.”
  • “If I ask for help, I have to feel emotions and be vulnerable.” (I actually hesitated when typing the V word—this shit seeps into your muscle memory, y’all.)

I’ve been carrying these beliefs with me for years, like a backpack full of nervous, stubbornly-independent stones. I’ve gotten so used to the weight that part of me just accepts it as something that’s “supposed” to be there—especially since the alternative involves admitting that I’m “not smart/resourceful/driven enough” to have all the answers myself. 

I realized though—thanks again to my coaches—that asking for help actually makes me MORE resourceful. Other people’s minds are brilliant resources when they’re willing to share, right?

And sure, I CAN figure out a lot of things on my own… but I can probably figure them out a bit quicker with some extra perspectives on the scene.

I was also pretty startled to realize that, oh shit, I LOVE HELPING OTHER PEOPLE. So, uh… maybe there’s a chance other people enjoy it, too? When I insist on being unhelpfully independent, I’m actually withholding that joy of helping from other people. And when I think of it that way… it’s kind of selfish NOT to ask for help.

Lol wtf. What is this twisted sorcery.

All that said, I’ll still feel challenged/personally attacked by myself when I ask for help… for a while, at least. That’s an old habit of mine, and old habits take practice to break. 

But now, I have a few more reasons why that challenge is actually worth it. Asking for help is a skill like anything else, and most skills have an initial “suck phase” where it’s all uphill and your brain is stimulated in ALL THE WRONG WAYS and quitting sounds like a tiny slice of (temporary) paradise… 

And like most skills, if you DO give up on it, that’s fine… but in a year or two, you’ll see other people doing it really well and wonder why you never stuck with it for long enough to do it well, too. 

That happened to me with playing guitar, bellydancing, and a bucket of other helpful skills whose learning curves felt too long and steep. I’ve decided things will go differently when it comes to asking for help.

I’m going to practice it. I’m going to try to do it when I really, truly don’t feel like it. I’ll have days where it feels better than I imagined, and days that will make the entire effort seem hopeless. I’ll probably catch myself slippin’ back into my old ways from time to time, and I’ll let that be okay. I’ll remind myself how much Future Me will appreciate the effort and discomfort I’ve experienced in the name of her growth.

If any of this post resonated with you, I encourage you to do the same.

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