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If you’ve ever found yourself afraid to ask for help, you’re not the only one. Sometimes when we need help the most, we are hesitant because we think we may appear weak or incompetent. The problem with not asking is that we build up more evidence that we are unloved and all alone. This is simply not true. We have each other. When we ask for help, it also gives others a kind of permission to ask.
My house alarm went off the other day, and I was halfway down the hill. I called my neighbor and asked her to close my back door that had blown open. Although I was worried that this would be an inconvenience for her, she assured me that it was not a problem at all. I felt so grateful that I didn’t have to be late for my meeting and that she was there to check on things at the house for me. I may never have the opportunity to close her door when her alarm goes off, but I can turn around and help someone else in another way.
Fear Gets in the Way
Some of the reasons that we may not ask for help is that we think others will see us as weak, too needy, or we are afraid of imposing. This fear is a story that keeps us feeling alone and unloved. Did you know that you have a 50/50 chance for a YES or NO answer? Whereas, if you didn’t ask, you would have a 0% chance. The worry of being rejected looms in our imagination.
It’s true that sometimes the other person is not able to help us, but that is about them, not us. We can have the compassion to let go of our judgments about them and ask someone else. Or we can do it ourselves this time and ask another time. It doesn’t matter what we choose to do.
The practice is not to make it mean anything about you if someone is not able to serve you at the time you would like. Trust that others have challenges and that it’s not your responsibility to speak or judge on their behalf.
Add Unlimited Value
One of my friends feels guilty whenever she cannot return a favor. It’s a game of trying to keep it all even. That’s a lot of stress to put on yourself because keeping things even is never going to happen! We can never pay it back equally.
It’s useless to try to make things even or fair, so let it go. Be grateful, rather than guilty.
Many years ago, my mother’s friend, Mildred, gave me a most wonderful bridal shower. I went into the kitchen to thank her, and I asked her how I could serve her in return. She kindly taught me that I can never return the favor, but I can look for ways to pay it forward. I felt so grateful to her that I began to look for other opportunities to bring people the same kind of joy she brought me.
Just think of the value that this woman gave me. I now felt empowered to discover ways which I could serve others. You’ve got to be creative! Everyone and every need is different.
Courageous People Ask
My favorite people to help are the ones who valiantly try their very best to do what they can on their own. So, when these kinds of people ask for assistance, I jump at the chance. This is an opportunity to share the burden with people I respect and admire.
When you learn to share your burdens without making it difficult for others to turn you down, it lightens the load for both parties. Everyone feels better about themselves and their chance to share talents and gifts. Knowing that there are people in the world that we can trust adds so much value to our life.
If you don’t ask, everyone loses out.
Courageous people also know how to reassure others when they are not able to serve. If you are continually giving your time away and not allowing time for rejuvenation, you will find that you run out of energy and time quickly. If you cannot be of assistance, this is a great opportunity to suggest other resources. It is not the time to feel sorry for yourself.
Everyone Feels Rewarded
Remember when Stephen R. Covey said that 1 + 1 = 3? When we do things together, the benefits are much greater than what we can ever do alone. Next time when you are trying to “tough it out” rather than “reach out,” consider that you could be denying someone the opportunity to grow and learn. When you are in great need, that doesn’t mean there is something wrong with you. It simply means you are in great need.
Don’t let fear deprive you of the chance to feel connected with others. Share your gifts and allow others to share with you. That makes us greater than two people alone.
Have you noticed that love creates more love? That’s what genuine service does for us. It’s a gift that we all crave.
My son called to ask if I would be willing to come and help him and his wife after their baby was born. I asked him if he knew of specific ways in which I could serve. He didn’t know what to ask because this is his first baby.
Of course, I am happy to help! I get to be a grand-mom! I even joked with him about how I could be an annoying mother-in-law just as easy as a helpful one. I assured him and his wife that I would be willing to go back to the hotel any time they needed time alone. I reassured him that I would be open to them asking for help as a specific need came along.
Not only do they feel reassured that they can ask, I also get to decide when I am able and willing to help. Knowing how cranky I can be when I don’t have enough rest, I am much better at serving when I take care of my needs, too.
Plus, allowing them to have this new parenting experience together without it being about me is also service. There is great power in allowing others to learn and grow from their own experiences. As we stand back and support from a distance, the growth can include having a conversation with your mother or mother-in-law about needing your space.
True success is shared. It’s not a one-person show. These precious opportunities for collaboration empower everyone with a feeling of connection. Life becomes rich when we share our gifts with each other.
I had someone contact me for support. She was at her wits end and feeling very tired of carrying the burden of guilt. She wanted to forgive and be forgiven, but it was very difficult for her to stop feeling resentful toward herself when she saw the pain she had caused other people.
What can she do to change the past? Nothing.
How is she serving herself? First, she asked for support. She reached out. Yes, she has a road ahead of her that is full of bumps. She is walking that road one step at a time.
So, whether you need someone to close the back door for you or help you transition into parenthood, practice asking for what you need. Consider that you’re not putting people out, you’re pulling them up. Together you are forming human bonds that make the heart full of compassion and understanding.
Nobody knows how to serve you better than you. So, don’t keep others guessing. As you are open and vulnerable, keep up the practice of asking for what you need. It is highly rewarding, even if you find that YOU are the one who gives yourself what you need.