5 Tips to Make Asking for Help Easier
Asking for help was one of the things I struggled with most of my life. I would push through, well past my breaking point and it never ended well.
I always put others first, helped everyone who needed it whether they asked or not, anticipated others’ needs and bent over backwards to do what I could.
Yet I struggled to ask for or even accept help. Numerous things about my upbringing and past (religion, self-sacrifice being pushed and praised as the ideal, being a people pleaser, an abusive marriage etc) made asking for help almost impossible.
If I asked for help it was because I was desperate and had pushed myself past the edge. Thankfully, I have supportive friends and family who help when I finally ask.
Fortunately, I changed my thoughts and behaviour so I don’t reach crisis point before asking for help. Now, I delegate tasks as needed, ask for help and plan my life better to ensure everyone’s needs, including my own are met.
Doing everything yourself or pushing yourself beyond what you are capable of handling doesn’t help. You end up broken, hurt, depleted and often with health issues.
Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links to products and services I use.
How to Overcome the Fear of Asking for Help
Whatever reasons you are scared or resistant to asking for help are, there are things you can do to make it easier.
1. Learn The Reason
Finding the cause of your resistance to help will make it significantly easier to get the help you need. Often the causes are from childhood where we might have felt unworthy or been taught we have to give, give give.
Some might have gone through periods of their life where they couldn’t trust anyone or rely on anyone. When that happens, we internalise it and make it a ‘rule’ for ourselves that we will never ask for help or rely on others.
Therapy can help you uncover these issues and work through them. Alternatively, there are a few books that can be useful if you can’t afford therapy and want to get started.
Worthy: Boost Your Self-Worth to Grow Your Net Worth. It’s a short book but if you do the exercises properly it will take a couple of weeks to go through. I have both the kindle and audiobook versions and within days had some amazing realisations, changed some behaviour and those changes have stuck.
The People Pleaser’s Guide to Putting Yourself First is printed quite small but again, if you do the work and take your time to do it properly, you will learn about yourself and be able to make change that lasts.
2. Realise People Want to Help
Generally, people want to help others. Asking for help gives them an opportunity to ‘do a good deed’ or feel good about themselves.
For many, it can be a distraction from their own issues. When helping with no strings attached, people feel good, so don’t be afraid to ask.
Be smart about who you ask and only ask those who genuinely want the best for you and won’t hold it against you.
3. We Cannot do Everything on Our Own
Look at other areas of your life such as work, raising the kids, hobbies etc and how much you rely on other people to do different things. For example, you probably pay someone to help with childcare either through a centre or with a nanny or babysitter.
At work, most people have a team structure with different people doing different tasks otherwise the business couldn’t run. No one can do everything on their own.
After my divorce, I was adamant I would not rely on other people, especially when it came to my kids. Since it was an abusive marriage and I was in another state from my family, I struggled.
When I moved closer to my family and where I grew up, I had more support but still struggled to ask for help. Yet, doing that cost me my health.
Raising 4 kids now (2 toddlers and 2 teens), there is no way I’d live with the attitude I will do it all myself. It’s impossible. The toddlers go to daycare, and my teens have been taught to cook, clean, use the bus etc. So they can be both involved at home and independent.
Check out 11 Things We Changed to Make Our Neurodiverse Family Life Easier (ADHD and Autism), How to Balance Work and Family and 11 Life Skills I am Teaching My Kids for more on my parenting/getting kids involved. Along with more on outsourcing to help you do it.
You aren’t superhuman. Don’t run yourself ragged doing it all.
4. Learn to Accept Offers of Help
How often has someone offered to help and you decline? Stop rejecting offers.
If you keep saying “Thanks, I’ll be fine” or “It’s ok, I can do it” you will burn out. When someone offers to make you a meal, or clean or take the kids to school or whatever you need help with, say “Yes, thank you!” And let them do it.
Asking for or accepting help is not a sign of weakness. Anyone who tries to tell you otherwise or treats you as weak for asking isn’t someone you want in your life.
5. Know What You Need Help With
When you feel completely overwhelmed, it can be hard to know what you need help with when someone offers.
If that applies to you, write a list of the things you need help with and work out who can help or how you can get help.
Here are some of the things I needed help with and how I did it
Writing the list was hard at first. Sitting down and going through every task I do in a day helped me see where the gaps were and what could be done to change things.
With 4 kids aged 1, 2, 14 and 16, I needed help. For my 1 and 2 year old, I needed them to be taken care of so I could work, exercise and get everything done.
I struggled with the idea of doing this due to my upbringing and expectations of being there for everything, however, it wasn’t possible and my mental health was suffering.
My options for help were childcare if I could get them into somewhere, a private nanny or babysitter or an au pair. Their father is a commercial diver so irregular hours and often away for up to a week at the moment, making it impossible to take turns looking after them so I can work.
After doing some research, interviewing people and applying for different childcare centres, we finally got an ideal one for our kids. They are thriving and so happy to go to school.
Meals and Groceries
I felt overwhelmed planning them all, shopping, cooking, cleaning up etc. While my teens (14 and 16) helped from a young age, sometimes they have a lot of homework or specifics for school now.
To deal with this, we decided as a family to rotate meal kit offers and each week choose the meals. My teens choose the meal or meals they will cook and we share the load of cooking and cleaning.
The ones we use the most are HelloFresh, EveryPlate, Marley Spoon and Dinnerly. You can get a free box or discounts on all of them at The Thrifty Issue.
Washing, the dishes, cleaning the bathroom, doing the floors etc. The list of what needs to be cleaned, repaired, organised and taken care of within the home and yard is significant.
We sat down as a family with the list of what needed to be done and everyone chose a few things they enjoy or prefer and took responsibility for that task.
We’ve also outsourced some of the tasks to make life easier. Creating routines that work for everyone and outsourcing things we don’t enjoy has made a huge difference to the house and everyone in it.
How do you Actually Ask for Help?
Asking for help can be as simple as “Hey, I need help”.
Reach out, let people know what is going on then be specific about what they can do to help if you want it to be effective.
When I first started asking for help, I did it via email or text as I was scared of rejection or having a conversation about it. I outlined what was happening, what I needed and asked if they might be able to help in some way.
Everyone was keen to help and did what they could. This made it easier to ask for help in person when I needed it or as things happened instead of waiting until I was overwhelmed.
Work out what you need help with, have some specific ideas and either call, email or speak face to face with people who have offered to help.
Why do you struggle with asking for help and what are your tips to reach out?
Here is everything I mentioned in the article:
Worthy: Boost Your Self-Worth to Grow Your Net Worth
The People Pleaser’s Guide to Putting Yourself First
11 Things We Changed to Make Our Neurodiverse Family Life Easier (ADHD and Autism)
How to Balance Work and Family
11 Life Skills I am Teaching My Kids
Discounted meal kits e.g. HelloFresh, EveryPlate, Marley Spoon, Dinnerly