While it may sound simple enough, accepting help is something that is extremely challenging for all of us at one time or another. It can be especially hard for those of us that believe that seeking help undermines our independence and our ability to cope. However the truth is that by refusing to accept help we ignore the fact that we are social beings who need to co-operate with one another in order to ensure that we thrive.
Seeing taking help from others as a weakness is often a very ingrained pattern of thinking and may be hard to overcome. However there are ways of changing how you think. The following suggestions may help you overcome seeing accepting help as a sign of weakness and allow you to develop a healthier sense of interdependence with those around you.
1.Re-think that asking for help is a sign of weakness Why
There are many possible reasons that might be influencing your reluctance to seek help from others, and it is important to try and narrow down exactly what reasons apply for you. Without developing insight and understanding why you believe as you do it will be impossible to make any changes. Some of the following reasons might be applicable to you, singly or in combination but have an open mind and consider other possible reasons:
2.Work through how not wanting to ever seek help is reinforced by unrealistic ideals and wishful thinking
Sometimes there are conflicting or reinforcing societal ideals that can make it seem a weakness to seek help. If you understand that these "ideals" are but one among many approaches to living, you might be better placed to ease off the obsession with seeing needing help as a weakness. For example:
3.Consider whether your bias to not ask for or seek help has any benefit to yourself and others
By keeping yourself or making yourself aloof from other human beings, you are building an invisible barrier around yourself that wards off the potential for new relationships and friendships. You might feel a sense of safety but you are missing out on learning about reciprocal give and take, where you not only take help but also provide help in return, all within a compassionate cycle of love, care, and generosity for all.
4.Look to reality instead of relying on wishful thinking.
If you can overcome the underlying negative reasons as to why you won't seek help, coupled with having a better understanding of your unrealistic thought patterns, it is possible to start finding pathways to letting others help you. Some of the things you might consider doing include:
- The next time the thought crosses your mind that you could do with help sorting out a problem, carrying a heavy box, making dinner, working out a work dilemma, etc., act on it. Decide on who you will ask, phrase the request in your head, and go and ask for help.
- Don't seek to ask for help from just anybody. Choose wisely and carefully – avoid people who make you feel a lesser person in any way, and even with those you do trust, take it slowly. Find people you really trust to try out asking for help first. This will allow you to open up bit by bit, and not be exposed to someone who might not do the right thing by you, or who might make you feel "weak" for asking.
In opening yourself up to others by asking for help, a couple of key paradoxes will confront you. Rather than seeing this as a challenge, look for solutions to your concern about being seen as too weak:
- Strength: In order to seek help, you need to be strong enough to accept that you have weaknesses (remember, no-one is perfect!), and you need to be stronger still to accept help. While burying problems may seem strong, it is the same as running and hiding.
- Giving: In order to get, you need to give. If you keep cutting yourself off from opening up to others, you risk not sharing your skills, talents, and abilities with others in need of help. In giving of yourself (your time, your listening ear, your love, your care, etc.), you are helping another to learn more about you, to be able to care for you, and to feel that you reciprocate the attention that they bestow upon you. In helping another person, you cease to focus on yourself. And when you cease to focus on yourself, it is far easier to accept support back from the other.
6.Rank your Issues
It might help you to develop a system whereby you prioritise your wish to seek help from other people. If it is a problem you feel you can fix and actually do so effectively on your own, then do it. If it's one where you cannot see a way you can deal with it alone, then talk to someone, be it a friend or trusty confidante about how to fix it on your own, or about who to ask for assistance.
7.Let It Be of the problems that no one can fix. There lies the greatest strength of all as there is a big difference between "burying" problems in comparison to accepting, forgiving and letting them go. If you need help to do that, really don't be afraid to ask for it.