Asking for Help

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It means we are weak

For a long time, I was reluctant to ask for help because I thought it meant I personally was weak. Capable people didn't need any help, I thought.

The irony was that I didn't apply this belief to others, just myself. If a fellow classmate went to a tutor to make straight A's, I didn't judge them. If anything, I commended them for finding a way to achieve their goal.

But couldn't do that, not without admitting I was a broken failure of a human being that needed someone else to guide me.

This mindset is extremely disempowering!

Andrew Carnegie was known for surrounding himself with people smarter than himself. He asked for help when he needed it, and that is precisely what made him such a formidable businessman.

The lesson: asking for help, at the right time and of the right people, is a way to become stronger. It recruits someone else's strength to your cause, thus empowering you to pursue your goals.

Fear of becoming dependent

So, maybe you buy the above statements, but you are worried that you might come to rely on whoever is helping you achieve your goals. As a student, you worry that, if you ask a tutor for math help, you'll never be able to solve problems without them.

Remember, though, you aren't asking the tutor to DO your homework. You are having them help YOU do your own homework. There's a difference between having someone assist you and having someone do stuff for you. Only in the latter case will you become dependent.

The lesson: there's a difference between asking for help with something you're trying to accomplish, and asking for someone to take care of you. As long as you're not doing the latter, you won't become dependent.

We are uncomfortable 'taking'

Sometimes, its hard to ask for things. It's much easier to give because then you never feel like you're imposing on others.

The way I get around this is remembering that most people LIKE to help.

Acts of kindness are associated with feelings of happiness, so by giving people an opportunity to help, you are actually giving them a chance to become happier. Accepting help is a gift in its own way, as long as it's done authentically.

And if they can't or won't help, then they will say so. No harm in asking.

The lesson: human interaction is based on compassion, so by giving people the chance to help you, you provide them with an opportunity to do something that will make them feel good and express their better humanity.

Others will lose faith in us

Even if you don't think needing help denotes weakness, you must still expose yourself to ask in the first place. It takes a lot of raw humanity to put yourself out there and say to the world, "I need some help with this. I can't do it on my own."

You might worry that others will think you can't handle yourself if this is the case. And it may actually be true if you ask for help all the time, on the simplest things, never make progress, and so always lean on others. Just because you're getting help doesn't mean you can just stop trying.

But as long as you respect the person helping you and treat their assistance like the gift it is, they won't think less of you. Do what you can, take their advice, follow their instructions, and make the most of any resources they provide, and they will see that you are a worthy recipient.

The lesson: as long as you accept help graciously and try to capitalize on it, instead of squander it or rest on your laurels, those who help you will not lose respect for you.

There is only so much one person can do on their own. Often, people want to help, but are never invited. So, if you need it, reach out to someone. That might just be what they need to feel appreciated in life, and if it's the difference between living 'in the lines' and making a difference, it's definitely worth the risk.


I've hit a pretty serious sticking point in my life recently. I have gotten to the point where I will not be able to continue to live independently unless I find a way to make some money. I would have to move back home with my parents. They are lovely people, but I made a promise to myself that I was not going to let that happen once I left home, so I'm asking my readers for help.

I really don't like asking for help at all, for all the reasons above, but I know that it's something I need to get over. I've already asked all of my friends here for connections to jobs that actually pay a living wage, and found some promising leads, but I'm at the end of my rope right now.

I don't like asking for charity though, so I'm not going to ask for donations. Instead, I'm going to give you something in exchange.

If you'd like to help out, you can buy a bamboo t-shirt. I have a huge stock of them from a previous project. I've sold a few to friends and family, and received only positive feedback. They're all natural, carbon-offset, pesticide-free, and ridiculously comfortable.

And if not, that's fine too. I can't tell you how grateful I am to have you reading my blog, and that alone is a gift I value highly.

I will probably be posting less frequently as I sort things out. The e-mail newsletters will continue, however.

Photo credit: GrowWear on Flickr