- Someday Lesson: Asking for help doesn’t make you weak but remember that you are stronger than you think and are capable of doing a lot of things on your own.
In her song Piece of Me, Britney Spears has the line: now she’s too fat, now she’s too thin which is a great condemnation of our society’s obsession with extremes. And it’s not just size we’re obsessed with – when it comes to asking for help it seems that there are only two types of people in the world: those who are too independent or the completely co-dependent crowd.
It doesn’t have to be that way.
We can find a balance between the two extremes and it doesn’t have to be difficult. As long as we remember a few things, we can find the sweet spot.
- People in your support network like to help. They love you and want you to succeed.
- Knowing what help you need and being able to ask for it shows strength, not weakness.
- When we help others, we feel like better human beings. Why deny others the chance to feel the same way?
- It’s okay to make mistakes. No one expects you to be perfect. Allow yourself the chance to screw up royally – it’s a great learning experience.
- As much as your supports love you, they also have their own lives and challenges. Balance out your requests with offers of help and don’t ask for more help until you’ve helped someone else.
- You’re stronger than you think. Inside most people feel like mushy weaklings when in reality we’re capable of amazing accomplishments – including you!
To help find that sweet spot, I got the Lab Rats to ask for some help. And after doing so I asked them to tell me how it felt. This is what they said:
Cat (who asked a friend to help her keep to her studying schedule):
It was….humbling. To have to actually sit down and ask for it directly, rather than just hint at it. Having to ask someone for help made me put off doing this exercise. It did help to offer something, though I’m not sure it was something that needed to be offered, given the relationship and the request.
Brett (who asked his wife for help organizing and renovating the house):
I was a little nervous also.. silly since we’ve been together 10 years now… It was a relief though. This was the first time that I said out loud that I was struggling and I really really asked for help. The words even sounded strange as I spoke, after having heard them so many times in my head, to actually hear them spoken…
Jim (who asked his partner Heidi for help on following through on actions):
I hesitated about asking for help, as I’ve always felt it was a sign of weakness to not have all the answers, to not learn how to do it all myself. I never held anyone else to this standard, just myself. The ridiculousness of this point of view is obvious, but that doesn’t diminish its power.
I was afraid Heidi might view me as weaker, unstable, and imperfect. I was afraid she’d feel less of me for expressing my doubts and needing assistance to evaluate and maintain my commitments.
Their reactions didn’t surprise me for highly independent people. So many of us are so sure that we’re loser weaklings if we need help. Or that we’re taking advantage of people if we reach out to them. But as you can see by the reactions – that’s not the case at all – everyone the Lab Rats reached out to was honoured and happy to help!
[She reacted] very positively. Turns out she’s studying for [the same exams] too. So, now I have a study-buddy of sorts, dependent on how our schedules mesh, though I imagine there will be a lot of solo-studying as well.
She was relieved, happy, glad that I trusted her with such a task. It turns out that she has been wanting to help after seeing my anguish, but didn’t know whether to say anything or not. She was overjoyed to be giving something back as she gathers a lot of her strength from me.
We had a long discussion well into the night… It kicked off after watching the movie The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (which ran late enough on it’s own). We started discussing that and it lead to all sorts of revelations and admissions. By the morning a great weight had been lifted from both our minds and we had big smiles, despite our tiredness from the late hour.
[She reacted] with a smile. If anything, she said she felt more connected to me when I voice my fears. It shows that I’m not perfect, that I’m human. She believes in me, and is patient with my dream. She suggested that I get a tutor or mentor to drive me a bit, to hold me accountable as well. I hadn’t even considered that. I was just (as always) going to figure it out myself.
When I asked her: “What if this isn’t what I really want? What if, in a year, I decide this isn’t my path?” her answer was “So what? As long as you find a way to create… to let that out. It doesn’t matter how.” That’s the answer to the question I didn’t realize I was asking. I was lost in the details.
In my own life, I get so worried that I’m taking advantage of people that I tend to clam up and try to push through things on my own when in reality I have a HUGE support network who want me to succeed and want to help me as much as I want to help them.
How about you? Do ask for too little or too much help?