I’ve always had mixed feelings about asking for help. When I was a child I remember being told: “You’ve got no one to count on but yourself.”
I took this to mean that when shit happened I would be alone. When I needed advice, someone to listen, people wouldn’t care so there was no point reaching out to friends. I didn’t have permission to ask for help. And sure enough, it quickly became my mantra.
Now, thinking back to that advice makes me sad. My childhood years were tough and I suffered through it alone, afraid of what would happen if I asked for help. Afraid I’d be vulnerable and look weak.
The first time I remember asking for help was the day I became homeless.
Standing next to my belongings I repeated my mantra: “you’ve got no one to count on but yourself.” And it dawned on me right then, if I didn’t reach out to someone and ask for help I really would be alone. If I turned my back on the world, it would inevitably turn its back on me.
Some people I’ve met in my life find comfort in not depending on others. It feels easier and safer to not put yourself out there; to say I’m not perfect and I have a problem I can’t solve. I never found it comforting, and it wasn’t until I asked for help and was shown kindness in return that I realised how liberating it can be.
Since I was 17, I’ve been slowly replacing all my wrong beliefs about asking for help with positive ones. I won’t lie, it’s been bloody hard. Sometimes I still catch myself repeating my mantra, and I’m like where the hell did that come from?
We hate to be vulnerable and whether we like to admit it or not, the child inside of us that doesn’t want things to change, who’s scared of the unknown, who wants to stay where it’s safe, does everything it can to stop us from reaching out.
That’s why we tell ourselves every day that we need to be superwoman. That we have to do everything by ourselves. That we’re the only one who can get it done. That people will say no. That we’re burdening others. That we’ll lose control of the situation. And that’s up to others to check in on us.
I honestly don’t know who started these negative beliefs around asking for help, but it has to stop. Because in reality once we do ask for help we are rewarded (not punished!) with closer friendships, confidence, self-acceptance, the ability to solve our problems, and we live a fuller, healthier and happier life.
No one can get through life alone, nor should they want to. Next time you need help, push through the fear and ask for it! Remember you have permission to ask for help because asking for help is OK. I only wish I had realised this sooner.
When was the last time you asked for help and how did it make you feel?
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Featured image from Unsplash.