Asking for help sounds like the easiest thing in the world to do – yet for many of us, it’s the most difficult. Asking for help often pushes our psychological buttons.
Perhaps, it’s a question of pride. We would rather people think we’re completely self-sufficient. Perhaps, it’s embarrassing, and an image of a panhandler comes to mind. Perhaps, it’s the thought of rejection and the imagined sting of a flat-out refusal. It’s different for everyone.
While some people are quite uninhibited about asking for help, some of us feel sensitive about it, feeling mortified even if we need to ask for help with small things.
Sometimes You Have No Choice
There are times when we have to ask to survive and we don’t have the resources to manage the problem any longer. If, for instance, you are struggling with a substance addiction, it might be impossible for you to stop by using willpower because the cravings are too intense and the withdrawals too severe. California by the Sea, a rehab for men program, say that according “to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, 28% of Americans will struggle with addiction to drugs or alcohol at some point in their lives.” So if you need professional help with a drug or alcohol addiction, realize that you are not alone. Not asking for help could have grave consequences.
So whether you’re looking for a neighbor to help with shoveling the snow off your driveway because your arthritis prevents you from doing it yourself or you need help to get treatment for a serious addiction, there are times when you have no choice but to ask for help.
With that in mind, here are 7 psychological strategies to help you overcome your inhibitions.
7 Ways to Feel Comfortable Asking For Help
- Talk to yourself aloud.
One way of breaking the cycle of looping thoughts is to objectify your dilemma. Talk to yourself as if you were conversing with someone else. If you need props, talk to a photograph of yourself, talk to your mirror image, or pretend you’re talking on the phone.
Here are some things you can say to yourself:
- · Show empathy for your difficulty in swallowing your pride.
- · Explain why you can’t solve the problem on your own.
- · Practice asking for help.
- · Describe how you tried to solve the problem in the past but could not do it because you did not have the knowledge, resources, or skills.
- · Depict how bad things can get if you don’t solve the problem.
- · Comfort yourself about the panic you feel and how worried you are about how things will turn out.
- Get clear on why you need help.
What is the exact problem you are struggling to overcome? Understanding the problem in depth will help motivate you to ask for help and communicate the type of help you need to the other person. Forcing yourself to get clear will also force you to avoid suppressing your feelings; and when you release your feelings, you’ll feel less overwhelmed. Sometimes when you get clear, you might be surprised that the problem is a belief system rather than a tangible situation you have to face.
- Make a list of people qualified to help you.
While talking to yourself and getting clear on your problem will help you to articulate your problem, it’s also essential to ask the right person. The right person has the time, patience, knowledge, skills, or resources that you need.
There is no point asking someone who is willing to help you but has no idea how to go about it. This, in essence, is not asking for help, but merely venting your feelings. While they may empathize with your situation, they don’t have the means to help you. The best that can happen in this situation is that they offer you some well-meaning suggestions on what they would do if they were in your situation.
Sometimes the person most qualified to help you could be a relative or a friend. At other times, it might be a professional person.
- It’s not about begging, imploring, or importuning someone.
Asking for help does not mean that you have to set aside your pride. You can ask in a way that allows you to keep your positive self-esteem intact. It’s not a sign of weakness or stupidity to ask for help — so don’t belittle yourself in your own mind when asking for help. Put aside the need to be bashful, embarrassed, or self-denigrating when you ask for help.
- Put yourself in the other person’s shoes.
You might be surprised that other people are delighted to be able to help you. In their position, you would probably be glad to be of assistance, too. So don’t imagine that you’re burdening someone when you ask for help.
- Rehearse asking for help.
Instead of just leaping into the situation, why not practice asking for help with an imaginary person? This will allow you to learn how to phrase your request in the best possible way, control your pitch and modulation, and overcome any nerves.
- Congratulate yourself for asking for help.
Regardless of how the other person reacts, be open to congratulate yourself for having the courage to ask.
Love and Accept Yourself
The best way to handle the emotional charge that comes from forcing yourself to ask for help is to be willing to love and accept yourself regardless of the outcome. Say the magic words, “thank you” to yourself.
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