Asking for help: You can do it

Abby Read, MS, RDN, LD, Wellness Coach and Program Coordinator

By Abby Read, MS, RDN, LD
Wellness Coach and Program Coordinator
Methodist Health System

Many of us are hardwired to be independent minded and want to figure out solutions to difficult situations on our own. From finding someone to help you manage your kids tackling virtual school to coping with anxiety, grief, or depression, the COVID-19 pandemic has brought to the forefront the uncomfortable need to ask for help. We often feel uneasy requesting help, and there are myriad psychological reasons why.

Why is it so tough to ask for help?

  • We have to surrender some control to someone else.
  • We’re afraid of being perceived as needy or incompetent.
  • We feel that asking for help is a sign of weakness.
  • We fear that others may be overwhelmed or reject our request for help.
  • We believe that our needs aren’t significant enough to ask for help.
  • Childhood experiences led us to be overly self-reliant because we didn’t have a safe person for support or comfort.
  • We grew up with an ingrained cultural or familial expectation that “doing it yourself” is the only way to succeed.
  • We feel that we don’t have a support system we can trust.

Do people really want to help?

Many of these psychological reasons for why we don’t ask for help may have some validity. But the irony is that most often people really do want to help. Our most natural human response to someone asking for help is to jump in and try to help to the best of our ability or refer them to someone who can.

The pandemic has taught us many things. One of these is that we all need help from others in one way or another. Although many of these fears may seem true, in reality, asking for help means that you care enough about yourself to increase the chances that things will work out in your favor. You’re simply getting the support you deserve.

How to get better at asking

  • Take opportunities to ask for help in smaller ways (such as speaking up if you need help on a task like connecting to a video call or asking a co-worker to grab you lunch when you’re too busy to do it yourself).
  • Start by opening yourself up to being vulnerable with someone you trust, and ask for their advice or assistance with your situation.
  • Think of the friends, neighbors, family, or co-workers that you consider your support team, and cultivate a level of trust with them that allows you to feel safe asking for help when you need it.
  • Mentally reframe asking for help as a sign of strength and courage.
  • Know why you’re asking for help, and be specific in what you ask for so that your request is clear.
  • Let go of perfection, and realize that it’s realistic to not always have complete control over every situation.

If you’re looking for an organization that is committed to helping employees operate at their best, take a look at Methodist Health System. Visit us at Jobs.MethodistHealthSystem.org.

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