Asking for Help is an Opportunity for Growth

Written by on July 4, 2016 in Accountability, Self-Care

going it aloneAsking for help is one of those uncomfortable issues that nearly everyone can relate to on some level and I include myself. I’ve always been far more comfortable offering my hand than accepting that of another.

I’m not proud of it, but regardless of the problem, and believe me, there have been a few pips, I rarely told anyone what I was going through at the time or asked for help because, like many others, I was raised to believe that being strong meant being self-reliant.

Recently I learned a priceless lesson about the real meaning of strength and just how much courage it takes to ask for help.

First, let’s take a moment to go through the customary exercise of defining what help is. Help is making it easier for someone to do something by offering one’s services, knowledge or resources. The challenge is that in order to get the help you actually have to ask for it.

Ah, and there we have it, the issue in the proverbial nutshell.

When we are struggling, asking for help sounds like the obvious solution, but many of us were raised to believe that we should be able to handle our own problems, so we choose to face them alone rather than risk feelings of vulnerability, weakness, and even failure.

Then there is the fear … of rejection, of embarrassment, of being a burden, of not being worthy. This last fear is a bigger problem that you might imagine.

You may be surprised to find “guilt” among the reasons we avoid asking for help, but there is a very real temptation to compare our own problems to those of others with internal narratives like “Who do I think I am asking for help when others have a much more urgent need?!”

While these are all compelling excuses to avoid admitting we need help, what we fail to realize is that, rather than an indication of weakness, it is actually a sign of courage to be vulnerable enough to ask for help.

Note to self … it does not make me weak to ask for help, or to admit that I am not in a good place at the moment … it takes courage to be real and vulnerable.

What I’ve Learned About Asking for Help

I’ve lived most of my life in Hawaii, but a recent change in living circumstances has resulted in the need to move back to the mainland at the end of this month. It’s a big change, but it’s been an amazing journey with lots of great memories, so I’m okay with the move, except for one challenge. A loveable 8-year-old, pug-nose pup named Lucy.

It’s that thing about the “pug nose” that has come to dominate my days and keep me awake at night. At 19-lbs Lucy is just a little Lucy
too big to be allowed in the main cabin on the plane, and the airline industry has banned brachycephalic (short nosed) breeds from cargo transport due to health risks.

I adopted her when she was 6-weeks old, and we’ve been through a lot together over the years, including her successful recovery from cancer surgery, so leaving her behind is unthinkable.

Long story short, at this point the only remaining option is using a private pet relocation service, and this service does not come cheap.

Setting up a fundraiser to ask for help covering her transportation is one of the hardest things I’ve ever done because it meant having to admit I couldn’t do it all myself. I was embarrassed because there are so many worthwhile causes out there, and yet I couldn’t sit back and do nothing. So up it went with no idea what to expect.

The almost immediate response was amazing in itself, but what has really touched me is all of the good wishes and prayers I’ve received, many from complete strangers.

At the time I wrote this article we still had a pretty big mountain to climb to cover her relocation, but miracles really do happen and with the help of a huge community of Facebook friends and followers I’ve just confirmed Lucy’s arrangements so she’s all set to travel to Oregon later this month!!!

What I’ve come to understand through this experience is that when you muster the courage to ask for help and become comfortable with your own vulnerability, you can’t help but grow as a person.

If you don't ask, the answer is already no. Click To Tweet

How to Become More Comfortable Asking for Help

If you struggle with asking for help, the best way to increase your comfort level is to actually do it. Start with small, seemingly inconsequential requests and use these experiences to gradually build your confidence.

  • Make a list of a few things you could use some help with. At work, it could be learning new software, using a particular piece of equipment, help with a project or simply dropping something off in another department. At home, it might be particular errands, the laundry, some cooking, walking the dog, or changing a light bulb.
  • If you’re not used to asking for help, the best way to start is by choosing the right person to trust. Create a list of friends, family, and colleagues who have the ability to help, especially those who have offered their help in the past.
  • Pick just one thing off your list and contact one of the people you’ve chosen. Be clear and direct. Instead of saying, “I wish I knew someone who could walk my dog,” and hoping they’ll get it, ask outright: “I need help. Can you walk my dog for me today? I’m not well enough to go out.”
  • Don’t make assumptions. If you make your request by leaving a message, sending a text or an email, and you don’t receive a response right away, don’t assume you’re being ignored or turned down. There could be many reasons for the delay, so give the other person the benefit of the doubt.
  • If you do get a “no” accept with grace and muster the courage to try again. It’s tempting to think that you’re placing a burden on others by asking for help, but chances are if they asked you, you would help if you were in a position to do so.
  • Make people feel good about helping and give them space to be kind and helpful. If you’re uncomfortable, they’re uncomfortable. Believe in what you ask for and let them know how much their help means to you.
Be strong enough to stand alone, smart enough to know when you need help, and brave enough to ask for it. ~Author Unknown

It might be difficult in the beginning, but the more you practice, the more comfortable it will be to ask. Try to remember that everyone needs help at one time or another. Perhaps by having the courage to ask for help, you will help someone else have the courage to ask for help as well.

What’s your story? Do you or someone you know find it difficult to ask for help? Why do you think it’s hard to ask?

Let today be the day you give up who you’ve been for who you can become.
About Marquita Herald

Marquita Herald

Marquita is an author, resilience coach and the chief evangelist at Emotionally Resilient Living. She’s also an unapologetic workaholic who loves red wine, rock n’ roll, road trips (and car dancing!), peanut butter cookies and (especially) a dog named Lucy.

She’s saddened and frustrated by excuses and cruelty and believes authentic compassion is the most powerful force in the world.

To learn more about Marquita and the mission of Emotionally Resilient Living  click here.

Thank you for sharing!

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  1. Andy James
    Twitter:
    says:

    This is my frist time on your blog…and I absolutely adore it… All your posts are simply awesome…I have been super bzi lately but I took the time out to tell you…that you are awesome… keep up the good work =)
    Andy James recently posted…10 Inspiring Things you need to remind yourself everyday.My Profile

  2. I believe that people in general have a problem with asking for help especially when they feel embarrassed, ashamed, scared or worried. This isn’t just a problem experienced with friends and colleagues but also with health professionals as well. I run a hypnotherapy clinic in Nottingham and many of my clients wait years before calling someone to help with their problem. In many cases these issues could have been resolved in just a few hours. Never live with a problem for years. Seek help as soon as you can and move forward. It makes you life so much easier.

    • Well said, and I especially agree with your point about how we tend to turn molehills into mountains when we avoid facing our problems. Thanks for stopping by and contributing to the conversation. 🙂

  3. Mary Sloane
    Twitter:
    says:

    Loved this Post Marquita! So glad it worked out well and Lucy is going with you! She asked you for help and you have always given it with joy Glad you let others share a little of that joy in this way.

    Accepting our own limitations is hard as we think that we shouldn’t need help. Who decided that? Did we make that story up as kids? We’d be big when we no longer asked or needed help!

    Need to take this one on and ask when I need help!

    To your new life in Oregon! Gosh we’re practically neighbours. I live 5 hours north of you.

    Mary

  4. William says:

    Thanks for this. Sometimes asking for help never happens out of fear of what people will think. I remember before I went to rehab it took a major incident until I finally was able to ask for help. Before my parents knew I had a problem, I could not muster up the courage to ask for help. Since I have gotten sober, today, I ask for help maybe sometimes too much. But I no longer fear what people will think if I need help with something. It doesn’t make you weak, it makes you strong for being able to admit when you need assistance.
    William recently posted…Brought to Your Knees by Guilt – It’s Normal, but Don’t Stay ThereMy Profile

    • Good for you William! My mother suffered from a substance abuse problem and during the time I was growing up it was an issue that was kept hidden in the home, so asking for help was never even considered. Had things been different, more in the open the way they are now, I honestly believe she’d be alive today. But we learn and hopefully grow from our experiences, whatever they may be. Thanks for sharing your story William.

  5. Christi
    Twitter:
    says:

    It’s hard asking for help no matter what. I admire you putting your dog first in this situation and getting the courage to speak up on their behalf [since they can’t do anything for themselves really :)]

    At work, it can be difficult to ask for help because you want to prove (especially to your boss) that you are highly capable and talented. At the end of the day, I’ve found it’s much better to just put yourself out there and ask because you both end up learning something from one another and the task often gets accomplished much quicker and more efficiently.

    • You are so right about the challenges associated with asking for help at work Christi, especially if the particular workplace is really into ” office politics”. I must admit that is surely one thing I do not miss about having a “job” because I’ve never been good at that stuff. Thanks for your good wishes and for contributing to the conversation. 🙂

  6. Mandy Allen says:

    Bless you for thinking so very highly of your little one’s life. Others would not be so compassionate for sure, You are right, asking for help is such a hard thing to do, but it’s only afterwards that we realise it is indeed the right thing to do. I wish you luck in your new adventure.

    Enjoy the journey!

    • Thank you for your kind words and good wishes Mandy! It’s kind of funny that organizing this trip back to the mainland so closely mirrors the original decision to move to Maui – no jobs, starting from scratch, clueless about so many things. Ah, I love a good adventure!

  7. Joyce Hansen
    Twitter:
    says:

    It was a relief to find myself among your other commentators who admitted having trouble asking for help. I’m always the first to volunteer and the last to ask for help. I had never given it much thought until I read your post. It looks like Lucy is a life lesson for all of us.
    Joyce Hansen recently posted…Not All Brains Like July 4thMy Profile

    • I’ll tell you a secret Joyce. After my ex and I separated I was really struggling, working 3 jobs to cover the mortgage payment, etc., and there wasn’t much left over for food. One day I was looking through the paper for other opportunities to earn money and I saw a help wanted ad for volunteers at the food bank. Now I actually qualified to receive food at that point, but what did I do instead, I marched myself down there and volunteered of course! It sounds kind of crazy now, but it literally turned out to be a life-changing decision because he led a new job and a whole new life! You just never know, huh? 🙂

  8. Summer Price
    Twitter:
    says:

    I hope you and your little “pug nose pup” make it to the mainland together!

    I really enjoyed your article. I was raised by a VERY proud single mother who refused to accept any help in an effort to prove to herself, I’m assuming, that she could do it “on her own”. What a life lesson that was to me. Fortunately, I think it had the opposite effect on me and I don’t see the point in suffering unnecessarily.

    I believe whole heartedly in your quote to “Be strong enough to stand alone, smart enough to know when you need help, and brave enough to ask for it.” Especially the smart enough to know when you need help and brave enough to ask for it. It can be extremely scary asking for help so I appreciate your tips on how to overcome that and the small steps people can take to be more comfortable with that.

    Thank you!
    Summer Price recently posted…Grains & Greens SaladMy Profile

    • Thanks for stopping by and for your good wishes Summer! The good news is Lucy is definitely relocating with me. 🙂 I hear you about the role our early life has on our ability to ask for help. When I was growing our family was plagued by substance abuse issues and there was a tight clamp down on discussing anything personal outside the home, let alone reaching out for help. It’s not always easy to overcome these early lessons, but it can be done. Thanks again!

  9. Suzie Cheel
    Twitter:
    says:

    Wow Marty I had no idea that you were moving- I had a picture of one day meeting up with you in Hawaii. Back to your topic, first congrats for doing the crowdfunding, I will check it out. I could have written the opening paragraph. I also find it easy to ask for others. This year I am making more moves to ask. As you say if we don’t ask the answer is always no! xxoo
    Suzie Cheel recently posted…A Simple Way To Allow Abundance To FlowMy Profile

    • Well I’m sorry we won’t meet in Hawaii, but you never know what plans the Universe has in store for the future, huh? Thanks for your kind words and for taking the time to contribute to the conversation. 🙂

  10. Vatsala Shukla
    Twitter:
    says:

    I’m so glad you found support in relocating Lucy with you, Marquita. Pets are family. Asking for help is difficult if one has always been the giver instead of the receiver but we all need support and help in different ways at different times in life. Your guidance is on the mark. I find it easier to deal with a declined request by being detached because sooner or later better help does manifest, normally from a completely unknown person. Having a problem and then getting upset because a person we asked for help doesn’t step up to the plate is not the kind of stress one needs.
    Vatsala Shukla recently posted…Unemployment is not the end, it is a new beginningMy Profile

    • That is an important point to highlight Vatsala, because for many people saying “no” is just as difficult as being on the asking end. Thanks for contributing to the conversation. 🙂

  11. I’m so happy Lucy will be going with you! I can’t imagine leaving a long-time pet friend behind. We have 3 cats and I’m so happy to be settled where we are for now as I can’t imagine ever leaving them. You have a beautiful heart to sum up the courage to ask for help for you and Lucy’s sake! I too don’t like to ask for help so I find this story so inspiring and these tips so helpful.

    • Thanks for your good wishes Sandra and I’m so glad you found the article useful. Once I got over myself and saw how many people genuinely wanted to help it just made the whole process so much easier!

  12. William Rusho
    Twitter:
    says:

    I am a guy, so asking for help is very hard, it is in out nature. Over the years I have learned though, that if you need help, the earlier you ask, they easier it is to resolve the issue. Thanks for sharing.

  13. Reba Linker
    Twitter:
    says:

    This is a powerful reminder that “If you don’t ask, the answer is already no.” Lovely post, Marquita!
    Reba Linker recently posted…Divine Feminine Earth Goddess Jenny GriffinMy Profile

  14. Edward Thorpe
    Twitter:
    says:

    Hi Marquita,

    Leave Lucy? Never!

    At 7 years old, Ginger, our Jack Russell Terrier lost her original owner, due to the owner’s untimely death. We adopted Ginger 3 months later.

    Yet, after 2 1/2 years of love and affection, she still doesn’t completely trust us, and ‘holds back’. (Non-doggers: you can tell.)

    Asking for help? Nope, can hardly ever do it. Love to help others when it’s appropriate. It’s wrong of me to deny others that sense of accomplishment.
    Edward
    Edward Thorpe recently posted…Why You’re Not As Smart As You ThinkMy Profile

    • Welcome Edward! That’s too bad about Ginger, but I suppose it’s tougher for an adult dog to form attachments. My niece would know much more about that since she fosters animals on a regular basis. Thanks so much for stopping by and sharing your thoughts Edward, looking forward to getting to know you and the others at PAC. 🙂

  15. Jeri
    Twitter:
    says:

    Asking for help is indeed difficult, but once done, the outpouring of response is always more than most ever hope for. At one point, moving to New Zealand was a possibility for me. I researched what was needed to get two cats and a dog into the country, and nearly lost it. Pets are such huge part of our lives, and you will indeed be able to take Lucy with you.
    Jeri recently posted…#AuthorInterview: Erma OdrachMy Profile

    • Oh, I love New Zealand! I can well imagine what it would take to bring your pets, I almost moved to Australia with my job back when I was in hotel sales and the whole immigration process was overwhelming. And, you are so right when you say that the response to our request for help is always more than we expect, it certainly has been for me. 🙂

  16. Donna Merrill
    Twitter:
    says:

    Marquita,

    You hit one of my hot spots…I find it so difficult to ask for any kind of help. It takes me a while to get up the nerve whenever I ask for anything from anyone. I have to psyche myself out that when I ask, I know the reality that the other person would be so happy to help, as I would.

    Wow, I cannot believe you are moving to the mainland. I have been associating you with Hawaii because that is when I met you way back in the day. But moving always bring new things.

    Leaving your dog? Never! I was at the site and need to return because there was a blip going on. I wish you all the best and sending you good energy and prayers for your moving ahead.

    -Donna
    Donna Merrill recently posted…Busy Bloggers Are UnderachieversMy Profile

    • Glad you enjoyed the article Donna and you surely are not alone when you say you have to psyche yourself up to ask for help. I know when my niece first suggested setting up a fundraiser for Lucy I felt like throwing up – seriously! But now I have to say it’s one of the most wonderful experiences I’ve ever had, and the fact that we raised the money for Lucy’s relocation is like the cherry on the icing! Thanks for sharing and contributing to the conversation. 🙂

  17. Marquita — I hope the move is a positive one for you. No way you could leave that cute little dog behind (I gave a small donation and hope it helps — also shared on social media).

    I was at the lowest point in my life when my husband was failing and I faced another crisis. I did ask for help, finally, from my brother because I felt so desperate at the time. It was very difficult but I’m so glad I did. I found that my family and friends came forward without my even asking and I’ll never forget their kindnesses.

    • Thank you so much for sharing and for your good wishes and contribution, Jeannette. Every bit helps as do all of the wonderful thoughts and prayers coming our way. 🙂

  18. Ravi Chahar
    Twitter:
    says:

    Hi Marquita,

    Most of the people hesitate to ask for any kind of help from anyone. Though eventually we all come to have a need of someone’s help. But people feel guilty or fret about it.

    They shouldn’t so it anymore. We are human beings and we all need help. It’s not possible that all the things can be done our own.

    On this planet, everyone requires help.
    I am glad to read such a wonderful post.
    Hope you are doing great.
    ~Ravi
    Ravi Chahar recently posted…Are You Not Able To Login To Your WordPress Admin Panel?My Profile

  19. Stella Chiu
    Twitter:
    says:

    Hi, Marquita

    I am also the person who easily gives help to others but has hard time to accept help from others. It is mainly the issue of “Pride”.

    In asking for help, you are exposed your own weakness before other people. On the other hand, just like you said in this post – if you don’t ask, the answer is already NO.

    Thanks for the post!

    Stella Chiu

    Thank you for your thought provoking post.
    Stella Chiu recently posted…Drinking These 9 Amazing Fruit Juices to Tackle Your WeightMy Profile

  20. Dave
    Twitter:
    says:

    Thank you for sharing such a personal story with us, Marty. I can truly empathize with you and Lucy on both fronts. I couldn’t quite imagine being separated from our pets and I commend you for mustering that courage to ask for help.

    For me, I will fully admit that I also find it difficult to ask for help. It’s really not because I think I have all the answers or that I am embarrassed or fear rejection. The biggest hurdle I have to overcome is feeling like a burden.

    But, I think more often than not, when I think about how good it feels to be able to help someone else in need, I find a way to convince myself that by asking others for help, I give them the opportunity to partake in that same feeling of satisfaction.

    My thoughts and best wishes are with you and Lucy as you prepare for your move to the mainland. You and Lucy deserve only the best 🙂
    Dave recently posted…Across the BridgeMy Profile

    • Beautifully said, as always, Dave. The burden issue is a common one, but as you point out for most of us it does feel really good to be able to help someone else. I know I am incredibly grateful to those who have reached out to help me (including you) and that is one of the most valuable lessons that has come from this experience.

  21. I agree that it’s hard to ask for help. There are some friends, family members who I am totally comfortable asking anything, anytime.
    But there are some areas I have a difficult time asking for help and I’m trying to work through it. I know I can’t do a certain thing myself, but find coming out and saying that very difficult. You’ve inspired me!
    RoseMary Griffith recently posted…What Equals Old Gray Stones and Colorful Landscapes?My Profile

    • And you’ve made my day. 🙂 Seriously, RoseMary, most of us are in the same boat. We have areas of comfort and then those gray areas. I think it comes own to learning to invest our energy in the circumstances and people that will help us to achieve our full potential and meaningful life.

  22. Phoenicia
    Twitter:
    says:

    I have no problem in asking questions to find solutions, say in the working environment but when it comes to favours….

    I am happy to offer my help and support but not so quick to take it.

    I am slowly learning that is is okay to ask others for support, whether it be for their time or their talents. Perhaps I do not wish to hear the word “no”. Perhaps there is an element of pride hanging over me. Asking for help means you are revealing you cannot cope with a particular situation. We are all human and cannot be expected to juggle everything on life otherwise we would live alone on a little island.

    Thank you for your thought provoking post.
    Phoenicia recently posted…Disappointments will come – what are your coping strategies?My Profile

    • You’ve raised an excellent point Phoenicia. It is not uncommon to be more comfortable asking for support in some areas than others. I do think there are circumstances that fall under the “asking for help” category that we gloss over, for example, the art of delegation. Most people I know are terrible at delegating – whether it’s at home or in the office. Regardless of the label you apply, delegating is admitting that you can’t do it all yourself, and I think that’s where we need to be more honest with ourselves.

  23. Erica says:

    I am so glad you found help in moving your puppy. How scary that must of been at first to not know how to move her.

    I’m not sure how I feel about asking for help. I think it doesn’t even occur to me to ask for help at times. I don’t know. I can’t think of a situation off-hand where I’ve labored to ask for help. But then, I also can’t remember many times when I have asked for help. So I’m not sure where I fall on the help asking spectrum. I did recently have a project I was working on and I asked for people to take an anonymous survey on Facebook to help me. I was so amazed at how many people were eager to help.
    Erica recently posted…Nutrients That Make Your Skin Glow!My Profile

  24. Donna Janke
    Twitter:
    says:

    I am also someone who has a hard time asking for help. But friends generally want to help and you actually strengthen your connection with them with you allow them to help and accept their help when you really need it.
    Donna Janke recently posted…Fathom Travel: Making an Impact in the Dominican RepublicMy Profile

    • You are so right Donna, friends and family are normally ready to lending a helping hand, but the key is we have to a-s-k because in most cases people won’t know you’re struggling unless you speak up. Thanks for sharing and contributing to the conversation!

  25. Sabrina Quairoli
    Twitter:
    says:

    When I was a kid, I found it difficult to ask for help. So I would work twice as hard to figure something out. When I got into college, this determination to figure things out myself helped me be the first in my family to go to college and complete my degree. But as I started my career, I constantly keep learning and asking questions to learn about my job. It’s ok to not understand something. We will never know everything so why judge ourselves. Thanks for sharing.

    • Well said, and I can relate in a BIG way Sabrina. I also have a passion for understanding how things work, though I do believe there are times when not asking for help in the name of “learning” is really another excuse for avoiding asking for help. The question we each need to ask ourselves is how much more of the work that truly matters could I accomplish if I stop investing my energy in figuring things out that does not serve my purpose. Thanks so much for contributing to the conversation.

  26. Mark
    Twitter:
    says:

    You so have a way with words M!LOL!

    And the power insights you share are so true.

    Oftentimes, for whatever reasons, we allow ourselves to
    be trapped, into believing, asking for help
    is some sort of sign or proof of weakness!

    When truth told, the exact opposite is true!Thank you so much for
    helping us to see and hopefully, finally come to grips with that!Thanks!

    And who could blame you, for not gong all out for the adorable “Lucy!”LOL!
    Mark recently posted…How Some Really Simple Email Marketing Strategies Can Make A Big Difference!Part TwoMy Profile

    • Thanks for sharing your thoughtful insights, Mark! I know this asking for help a challenge for many people and hopefully others will read the article and give some thought to reaching out for help where they need it in their own lives. 🙂

  27. Congrats, Marty, in launching your crowdfunding campaign. I did one 3 years ago, and I agree. It’s one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. Asking people for money is very hard indeed. I’m glad your campaign is doing well, and I’ll go over and read your page there as soon as I post my comment here.

    In my life today, I am a caregiver looking after someone who is always asking for/needing help. Perhaps that has made it easier for me to ask for help, as I definitely know my limitations, and I need to save my energy to help my husband deal with his health challenges. Best of luck with your move and with Lucy’s relocation.
    Doreen Pendgracs recently posted…chocolate travel explainedMy Profile

    • Thank you for your good wishes and for taking the time to share your thoughtful insights Doreen! Your point about how you are aware of your limitations is a wonderful reminder for us all. 🙂

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