By Koko Kaasaki, PJCC Adult Program Coordinator
Being independent and self-sufficient are positive attributes, however, we all need help from time to time. But, do you ever struggle to ask for help? M. Nora Klaver, a life coach and author of Mayday! Asking for Help in Times of Need, states that 70 percent of people confessed to having needed help in the previous week but did not ask for it. There are many reasons why we do not ask for help including not knowing how to ask; not thinking to ask; wanting to be self-reliant; and believing it’s easier to do it ourselves. Often underlying the myriad reasons are the fear of being vulnerable and the shame of being burdensome.
Motivational speaker Mike Robins assures us that it’s not uncommon to feel discomfort in asking for help. We may think that we should be able to do everything on our own, or that asking for help can set us up for rejection and disappointment. When we can get beyond the initial discomfort, however, Robbins states that asking others for assistance may strengthen the networks of friendship and community. Furthermore, asking for and receiving help validates that we are worthy of others’ support. Asking for help, therefore, is an act of self-compassion.
Some people have no difficulties in asking for help. Others can develop this skill through taking small steps every week. M. Nora Klaver suggests that regularly making small requests, such as borrowing a cup of sugar from a neighbor, develops our “muscles” so we don’t feel desperate and overwhelmed when bigger situation arise where needing help is unavoidable.
Additionally, psychologist Dr. Deborah Serani provides the useful acronym HELP when seeking others’ assistance:
- Have realistic expectations for the kind of help you are seeking
- Express your needs simply and clearly
- Let others know you are there to help them as well
- Praise your pals for their assistance and pat yourself for asking for help
And, here is some food for thought: Klaver suggests that the independent, self-sufficient American is a cultural myth. She asserts that all great endeavors are founded upon the spirit of team work and helping each other in times of need. Our endeavors may be great or not so great (or somewhere in-between). Nonetheless, this practical viewpoint provides a positive argument for why we needn’t shy away from asking for help.
Koko Kaasaki is the PJCC Adult Program Coordinator and has a Masters in Gerontology.
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