“The strong individual is the one who asks for help when s/he needs it.” ~ Rona Barrett
When I first began my career, it wasn’t easy. Between exploring the different diagnoses and gaining an understanding of what it takes to be a successful psychologist, my brain was in learning mode…and on overload.
As much as I hated to do it, I was constantly asking my supervisor to spend extra time with me—for guidance…for clarification…and for moral support. But, I didn’t want to inconvenience her. I didn’t want to look “stupid”. I didn’t want to be “a pain”.
I didn’t want to appear “needy”.
And it was during those early days that I had an “ironic” revelation: The most important word in our vocabulary was perhaps the hardest word to say—help.
The word “help” might just be the most misunderstood word in the English language. It’s not that we don’t understand the meaning of the word—it’s that we underestimate its power to create positive change in our lives. Since the days of our caveman cousins, asking for help has united people. It’s solved problems. It’s led to amazing new discoveries. The word “help” hasn’t just allowed us to survive—it’s allowed us to thrive.
From the buddy system to being a good neighbor, our problem isn’t in the fact that we need help—it’s in how afraid we are to ask for it.
Let’s face it—sometimes it’s difficult to admit that we need help. We don’t want to inconvenience anyone and, if we do, what will they think of us? Some of us even feel that asking for help is a sign of “weakness”. However…
- The exact opposite is true: Asking for help is a sign of strength, a show of self-respect, and the pathway to empowerment.
When we ask someone for help, something amazing happens to the person we ask. The moment the person hears the word “help”, an alarm goes off in their mind. When they hear that signal, they become motivated to stop what they’re doing, lean in, and listen to us. And like a genie rising from a lamp, there’s a very good chance that we may actually hear the person say something like this: “Of course! Your wish is my command.”
- When the listener hears the “help alarm”, they’re more likely to 1) stop what they’re doing, 2) give us their undivided attention, and 3) “hear” our request. And the more the listener allows us to talk about what we need, the more willing they are to help to us!
But, no worries—you get to return the favor to those who’ve helped you because, guess what? You were born to be a helper, too.
Throughout life, you’ll use your knowledge and experience to help friends and loved ones to write their life “story”. And don’t be surprised if it is your guidance and support that empowers someone to edit their “script”, twist their “plot”, and create an amazing “conclusion”.
Yes, you have the power to help a person to change the way their “story” ends.
Yes, being a good helper begins with being open, willing, and vulnerable enough to ask for help when you need it (we all do!). As you write your own story, here are some things to help you to become the best “helper” and “helpee” you can be:
- Don’t be afraid to ask experienced friends or loved ones for support. They want to see you succeed.
- And…they might just be the same people who ask you for help in the future!
- When someone has the courage to ask for help, they are asking from a position of strength—not weakness.
- When we ask for help, we are silently seeking knowledge. And remember— “knowledge is power”.
- Life is full of twists and turns…ups and downs…and zigs and zags. So, if you ever need help, consider yourself normal.
- There isn’t a “certain type of person” who needs help. Each of us needs help at some point…for some reason…in some way.
Believe it or not, many of your family members and friends are ready, willing, and able to offer their help. But how will they know if you need help if you don’t ask?
When we ask for help, it can re-frame our attitude about people. It can change the way we think about teamwork. And it can stop our fear of judgment in its tracks. Consider this: The last time someone asked you for help, did you say, “Nope…sorry”. Hmmm, it’s doubtful. Chances are that you offered a warm, empathetic, nurturing, and enthusiastic “yes!”…as any good helper would (and should).
I always loved hearing my incredibly giving, incredibly supportive, incredibly helpful 90-something year old grandmother say, “Hey, can you help me?” Her words will never be forgotten—not just because she was my grandmother, but also because her request was a reminder that, in life, our capacity to give and receive help never ends.
Whether you’re on the giving or receiving end, helping is not only the mark of a good friend, family member, or neighbor—it’s the trait of a good human being.
Yes, that means you.
About the Author: Joshua GARRIN is one of Your Monthly Mentors, an Award-Winning Health Psychologist, Author of “The I-Way to Well”, Personal Trainer, Health Coach, and Self-Motivationalist. He holds a Ph.D. in health psychology, an M.S. in cognitive psychology, and a B.S. in general psychology and journalism and currently resides in the Hudson Valley region of New York. Following the completion of his doctorate in 2014, Joshua was the recipient of Walden University’s Harold L. Hodgkinson Award for Outstanding Dissertation Research for his inquiry on health beliefs, outcome expectancies, and stress appraisal in college seniors. Read More…