Asking for Help

This is part of the Friday series, one day late.

I have a hard time asking for help.  Even when I obviously need help.  I would rather struggle with something (say moving a full five gallon water container) than ask anybody for help.  It’s part of my whole “damn yankee” thing.

Or, at least, that’s what I tell people it is. 

I lived in the south for approximately twenty years.  Whenever people (usually men) would offer to help with something, I’d do the whole, “Thanks, but I’m a damn yankee, I can do this myself.”  Most times, that wouldn’t stop the guys from taking over anyway.  Most times, I’d grump about how I could have done it on my own, giving a grudging “thanks” to the men being helpful.

I know where it comes from.  As a child, whenever I asked for help, I was ridiculed, or worse.  So I worked hard to not ever need help, even if it meant struggling with things that were obviously outside of my abilities.  I never turned down doing something just because it was “too hard” when people asked me to do things.  I never asked for help in doing things that turned out to be too hard.

But I’ve been watching people I know who are both independent and who have a good sense of self esteem (at least, in my estimation they do).  And I’ve noticed something, with even the most fiercely independent person I know.  If they need help doing something, they don’t hesitate to ask.

It’s really opened my eyes to how much I struggle to do things by myself that could go so much faster and easier if I could only ask for help.  

I’m working on asking for help more, when I need it.  When I really can’t do something by myself.  It’s been hard, as I have years of conditioning to over come.  But it’s happening. 

Asking for help.  Who knew it could be a positive thing in life?


4 Responses

  1. I have the same problem and I assume it’s a self esteem issue too. Was raised by an alcoholic father and had my mom get cancer and die when I was 13/14 and was well trained not to ask for anything from my father. So I never had the things that most kids my age had. I’m still like that today but I’m more apt to help others than ask for help for myself. But then there’s also the part of me that feels as if I’m being taken advantage of by others because of my helping them I regret I’m not getting it back in return. It can be a very complicated issue and one that’s not easy to fix. I have noticed that others in my family do not have that issue. Good luck with working on your issue with it!

  2. It’s like you read my mind. I have been struggling with the exact same issue. Asking for help…who knew it could feel like such a risk…thanks for writing this post 🙂

  3. Oh yeah… I definitely agree that asking for help is a very positive thing…. and I agree that people with high self-esteem don’t hesitate to ask for what they need.
    I used to be afraid to ask for help, because I feared that the person I asked would feel “trapped” or something into helping me. It took me a while to realize that people do have the power to tell me “no”, if they cannot help… and that is totally okay. It also took time for me to build the trust up in other people that they would say NO if they really needed to. Sure… I know people like my mother have problems saying NO… that is why if I ask her for ANYTHING, I help her think it through and if she sounds in the least hesitant, I take it off the table… it’s not perfect, but it seems to work a lot of the time.

  4. Having been brought up by my mother, who always has taught me that it’s important to ask for help when I need it, I find that a lot of people have this problem and here’s the other side of it.

    It can be really frustrating to have friends who refuse to ask for help or refuse help when you offer it, even when they obviously would benefit from help Some examples: many people will refuse to apply for food stamps “on principle” even when they’re having trouble affording food. Many people will also never think of going to counseling or talking to their doctor if they are horribly depressed or sick, even if they can afford it.

    I think it’s an attitude that people usually wind up with from their upbringing, and it’s one that applies especially to public services – “Help is for people who are worse off than me. As long as there’s someone who is worse off than me, I don’t deserve help.”

    This is totally counterproductive because, while there may be someone who is worse off than you, you usually can’t do a damn thing about it without seeing to yourself first.

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