As much as we may hear stories in the news and see posts on social media around mental health and de-stigmatizing asking for help, many people in our culture continue to attach judgment when someone needs outside support to be able to cope or to thrive.
Many of us have grown up with the expectation that we should be able to do it all/figure it out on our own/not need help for whatever situation is looming large in the present moment. And this expectation is not helpful. The belief that asking for help is a weakness, in fact, creates weakness as people become overly concerned with trying to prove their worth and strength by postponing or skipping seeking help when they really need it.
If we can recognize that when we ask for help, we are actually stronger as a result, we can make things so much easier on ourselves and those around us.
Some patients who are starting therapy and clients who are just beginning coaching often come in with the belief that they are weak for needing or having to ask for help. They feel like they should be able to handle things on their own and they shouldn’t have to use help from anyone else.
Somewhere along the line, our culture has come to support the belief that unless we can do everything, perfectly, and without help, then we are weak. Or we should be able to make it appear that we are handling everything ok even if we aren’t and we should not crack under the pressure. And these beliefs are serving no one.
The fact is that no one can do it all. Everyone has those things that they excel at and those things that they need help with. And that’s ok. Actually, it’s really great that others can fill in the gaps where we may need it. Asking for help doesn’t mean that we are weak. It means that we are wise enough to recognize the opportunity for growth. It means that we are open to learning. It means that we recognize that others may have gifts or talents or knowledge where we do not. Asking for help is, in itself, an act of strength.
But it isn’t helpful to ask our ego if seeking help is an act of strength because chances are, the ego will tell us that we are weak and stupid and a failure for needing help. The ego will feed into the beliefs of the collective because it is invested in safety and efficiency at all costs.
Listening to the ego’s view of needing help is what makes asking for it so difficult. The ego uses fear tactics and statements like ‘What might people think?’ and ‘They are going to know that I can’t do it myself’ and ‘If I weren’t such a failure, I wouldn’t need help’. The ego is afraid of change because change means that we may no longer require the guidance of the ego…ergo it can’t survive. And if we don’t ask for help, we will stay stuck where we are and nothing will change. That is the easy way out. And it is the most efficient way out because we will reserve energy rather than using it in an effort to change.
So, if we want to evolve and become our healthiest selves, we must have the courage to recognize when we need help and then ask for it. As for the ego, the most helpful response we can have for that strong, inner voice is something like, “Thanks for your input; your opinion will be considered with all available information as I move forward with my decision.”
If asking for help were an act of weakness, it would not result in growth, connection, and change. And it would be effortless. But asking for help takes effort- sometimes a lot of hard work- and that requires strength. So by definition, asking for help is an act of strength.
This week, I invite you to practice asking for help when you need it. It means that you are inviting in the possibility for change. It means that you are opening yourself to grow into the next best version of yourself. And it means that you do not have to feel responsible for doing EVERYTHING without the help of others.
I will keep working on it if you will. We are all just trying our best together.
Chat again soon.