Why Is It Hard To Ask For Help?

If we truly believe that “we are all in this together” it seems it shouldn’t be that difficult to ask for help. Personally, I find it very hard. I used to think it was difficult for most people, but I’m not so sure about that. I see others asking for help, seemingly very easily, expecting to get what they asked for, and not having a lot of emotions around it. I used to resent those people thinking they were in the minority and that they were being selfish or greedy. Now I’m in awe of them and am trying to learn from them. As usual, there are limits, but I am learning that it is ok to ask for help and to ask for things. It’s important to have people in your life whom you trust. That’s become clear. It still makes me a little nervous though but I’m thinking of it as a flabby muscle that I’m strengthening.

Can you relate to this? It’s a complex issue and there can be a variety of reasons for having difficulty asking for help. Some of it is cultural. In the US we praise individualism. In some countries the “I” is not as important as the “we” of community, where the group is considered in decisions before the self. In the 80’s in the US we created a “me” generation and individualism became king. Sadly, the pendulum may have swung too far in that direction and frankly, in my opinion, we now live in a selfish and greedy society. If you are not working extra-hard at your job, you are considered lazy. We are an over-worked, extra-busy group of people working hard to consume more. Many have lost a healthy work-life balance, forgetting how to play and to just be. Our health is suffering…obesity, high blood pressure, anxiety, chronic inflammation, etc. Then there’s martyrdom and the disdain for people on welfare. I’m sure some people do take advantage of our system but I don’t think it’s the majority. Welfare is not a smart way to live a good life and I tend to think there are other motivations and fears that put people in that position including lack of living-wage jobs and other inequities.

Personally, the reasons that have made it hard for me to ask for help are layered and include being raised in a Mennonite home and truly believing it was good to not have many material things. That idea worked well within my family system because my dad had difficulty keeping a job and we were always struggling financially. As a highly sensitive child, I picked up on these troubles and tried not to ask for anything. A strong message from my mother was to please not have any needs or to ask her for anything because she was already overwhelmed working full-time and dealing with chronic health issues and could not handle one more thing. Not only did I get the message not to ask for anything, but I was shamed if I did. As a young girl I recognized our dire situation but was too young to have any power or agency to change things so I internalized the belief that it was best to not have needs therefore I wouldn’t ever have to ask for help.

This has been a difficult core belief to unravel. Mostly, I’ve tried to work hard so I can be self-supportive and not have to ask for much but I’ve made mistakes along the way and I became exhausted too. About 20 years ago I joined a group practice thinking maybe I can have a bit more independence with my work in terms of making my own schedule, and maybe I could make a little more money (it seemed that the social work jobs I had were all-consuming and exhausting and as a highly sensitive person (HSP) I seemed to quickly burn out.) Early on, the leader of the practice told me that I was “counter-dependent.” I had never heard of that label but it rang true. He said I had trouble identifying what I needed and once I did, I had trouble figuring out how to get the need met. Not very flattering.

I’ve come a long way over the years but there’s still some shame around having to ask for help. I recently read in Lynne McTaggert’s book, The Bond:

“We regard as self-evident that we exist as self-contained, isolated beings, living out our individual dramas, while everything else–other atoms and other cells, other living things, the land masses, the planets, even the air we breathe –exists as something distinct and wholly separate.”

“The latest evidence from quantum physics offers the extraordinary possibility that all of life exists in a dynamic relationship of cooperation. Quantum physicists now recognize that the universe is not a collection of separate things jostling around in empty space. All matter exists in a vast quantum web of connection, and a living thing at its most elemental is an energy system involved in a constant transfer of information with its environment. Rather than a cluster of individual, self-contained atoms and molecules, objects and living beings are now more properly understood as dynamic and protean processes, in which parts of one thing and parts of another continuously trade places.”

Maybe it’s a stretch to connect that with asking for help but it is comforting to me. Research is showing that we truly are all in this together. We are scientifically interconnected. Let’s celebrate the fact that we need each other and not hesitate to ask for help when we need it.

4 responses to “Why Is It Hard To Ask For Help?”

  1. I find it difficult to ask for help too, whether it is emotional support or any other kind of assistance. Always have. I was raised that asking for help is a sign of weakness. Yet, we’ve all heard the phrase “it takes a village”. Maybe that vast quantum web of connection is the village we all need and we shouldn’t be afraid to ask.


  2. What a fine post on a complex and emotional subject. I like how your curiosity, exploration and personal vulnerability shone thru. I agree with quantum physics’ understanding of our amazing, interconnected universe/multiverse. I also believe that our journeys on planet Earth are mostly about learning to receive the Love that is present in everything and everyone. Ask and receive….we are loved….and are in this together…..and the Love we receive will overflow to others, so nothing to fear and nothing to hold back.

    Liked by 1 person

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