How to ask for help when you’re usually the one giving it
Asking for help can be challenging at the best of times – it’s often even harder if you’re used to being the one that offers assistance.
Maybe you’re in a frontline role such as a nurse, or firefighter, or you’re a parent, a boss, or the eldest sibling! However you identify, being able to ask for help is a skill that takes time to foster, and the only way to get good at it, is to start practising.
- Acknowledge that everybody needs help at some point in their life. Recognise that you have your own limitations and that it's normal to require assistance sometimes. Accept that just because you usually help others doesn’t mean you don’t deserve help and it doesn’t mean that you’re no longer capable of helping.
- Identify the internal story that’s making it hard for you to reach out for help. Maybe it’s “I have nobody to help me”, “I need to be the strong one”, “I can’t appear weak” – whatever the narrative, consider its validity. Is there evidence for this or are you leaning on fear and assumptions? Is there a different perspective you can take? Or a more neutral narrative? The goal here is to find a way to challenge and let go of the limiting belief.
- Start small! With any new exercise, we go in light, so we don’t do damage to the muscle. Start with small, daily, “help” reps that require very little resources from your chosen person. Try something like, “can you help me bring the shopping in from the car”, and work your way up to a task that might require a little more emotional bandwidth, “can you help me solve a problem I have at work?”. By asking for and learning to accept help in more meaningless situations, it’ll ease you into feeling more comfortable with the concept whilst beginning to build evidence and confidence that you can reach out for support on the important stuff – like your mental wellbeing.
Remember that asking for help is a NORMAL part of being human. By reaching out and allowing others to support you, you not only get the help you need but you also strengthen your relationships and create a sense of mutual support and trust.