I’ve always been independent. My parents taught us to be individuals who weren’t afraid to ask questions, always do our best and that it’s OK to make mistakes, as long as you learn from them. Don’t get me wrong, they were very loving and nuturing people, but they encouraged us to be independent.
For example, I always knew I would attend college away from home. The thought never crossed my mind to stay close to home and be near my family. And I’m not saying staying close to home is a bad thing, I was just wired for independence.
And while being independent has its strengths, it also has its weaknesses. Like asking for and receiving help.
I wonder why it’s so hard to ask for help. I had absolutely no problem offering help to my friends. But asking for help was a completely different story.
I think it was that I didn’t want to appear “needy.” I also never, ever wanted to be an inconvenience to anyone, for any reason. I ran around in some circles where if felt like you shouldn’t ask for help. You should “look” like you have it all together and push through whatever you are going through. I now know this is not healthy.
Several years ago, I finally had a breakthrough when it came to asking for help. I was scheduled to have surgery and would be out of comission for a week. My plan was to make a few meals ahead of time, since I wouldn’t be able to do very much. I thought it would be nice if just a couple of my friends could cover a meal or two, but of course I would never just throw that out there and ask.
But when I told a few of my close friends about my surgery, they immediately asked what I needed and insisted on helping me. Because that’s what friends do for each other.
So, I reluctantly asked a couple of them if they would mind bringing dinner for us. And of course they didn’t mind at all. They wanted to do more, but it was enough that I had even asked for help. And that’s when it finally clicked for me that “help” is not a bad word.
This forced me to do some self-reflecting about why I thought asking for help was bad. Helping is an act of love.
Asking for help doesn’t make you look needy. It’s normal and OK. If my friends, who love and care about me, give me a hard time about asking for help, or make me feel like I shouldn’t ask for help, than they probably aren’t friends I need to have in my life.
I also realized that refusing to ask for help was somewhat prideful. It sent the message that, “My life is perfect and I can handle it all. I don’t need help, because I’ve got my stuff together.” Ha! That certainly couldn’t be farther from the truth. And I’m not so great that I can’t ask for help.
True friends are not put out by their friends needing help. And giving is a double blessing. It blesses the giver and the one receiving the gift.
At some point in time, we’ll all need some kind of help. You don’t have to struggle alone. Ask for help.