Asking for help is typically one of the last things we want to do. We will do anything to avoid asking our boss for help finishing a project he assigned us. We don’t want to admit that we are struggling with an addiction that we can’t control. We hate telling our spouse that we have no idea how to fix the laundry machine that we broke. What is it about asking for help that we despise so much? Is it our pride? Is it embarrassment? Or is just plain old-fashioned fear?
Regardless, we all know the consequences of not asking for help, and how much trouble it can get us into. If asking for help terrifies you, it’s time to understand why so you can move forward and face what scares you.
The Psychology of Asking for Help
Humans are born with the desire to do things independently. We can see this even in babies or toddlers. Even though we know it would be easier if we could put the seatbelt on our 3-year-old daughter, she will not let us help. She wants to do it by herself, to show herself (and others) that she is capable. She also enjoys doing the work by herself. It’s a challenge that she wants to complete, or a task to finish. As adults, nothing really changes. Our ability to complete things on our own builds our self-esteem and increases our brainpower. It makes us feel good about ourselves.
When we don’t know how to do something, we want to try and figure it out by ourselves. With certain problems, this is a good way to learn. With others, it can prove deadly. For example, a person struggling with addiction who refuses to ask for help may try over and over to get sober. Meanwhile, the addiction grows worse and worse as she or he refuses to access the help required.
Our fear of appearing “incompetent” to others is what drives our inability to ask for help. Others fear they will be rejected or mocked for asking for help. This is particularly true if we grew up in families when asking for help was not allowed, or it got us into trouble. We develop a deep distrust of others and avoid situations where we need to show vulnerability. The problem is that we only end up hurting ourselves by refusing to show vulnerability to others.
How to Get Better at Asking for Help
Contrary to what we believe, asking for help shows an immense amount of courage. We have to relinquish pride and self-will, which most people are unable to do. We have to learn to laugh at ourselves, realize we are human, and are not equipped to handle everything alone. Asking for help means we have to stop taking ourselves so seriously. We also have to stop viewing others through a false, pre-conceived lens. Most people do not judge us when we ask for help. They are honored that we chose to come to them. They are more than willing to do whatever we need to help. And regardless of what we believe, they do not see us as weak.
To get better at asking for help, we have to stop placing so much value on what others think. We have to let go of pride and fear, which takes a lot of work. We have to learn to trust others and stop assuming the worst of them. We have to let go of our expectations and false beliefs that come from a traumatic childhood when asking for help was not allowed. Working with a qualified therapist can help us overcome our insecurities so we can get the help we need.
Do you have a hard time asking for help? If so, please contact Straight Talk Counseling at 714-828-2000 or visit our website at straighttalkcounseling.org. One of our professional counselors would be happy to speak with you.