How to Ask for Help in Times of Need

You probably remember a time in school or out shopping when you wanted to ask for help, but stopped yourself. You might have even had a prompt from the teacher: "Does anyone have any questions?" or from an associate "Is there something I can help you with?". Still, even when it's their job (or their joy) to help, you might hesitate.

It can be even more difficult when you're going through difficult times and can really use another set of eyes or hands. If you're overwhelmed with work and home life, or if you're going through some tough emotional business, sometimes you just need someone to help.

Why Is It Hard to Ask for Help?

If you look back to your past, you might see where the roots formed that made it more difficult for you to ask for help. Your parents might have made you learn to figure things out on your own, then given you great praise when you did. As a child, you may have been met with resistance or anger when you reached out for help. Maybe you had a parent who modeled the "do it yourself" attitude, always refusing to ask for help. These early formative experiences can leave you with the impression that asking for a help is a deficiency. You might also have difficulty asking for help because you don't want to surrender control to an outside person, or because you don't want to feel like you "owe" anyone anything.

How to Ask for Help

If you have difficulty asking for help, you may have learned some less than optimal coping mechanisms over the years. You might try to make someone feel guilty or feel sorry for you. Or in your haste, you may ask the wrong person; instead of someone who would be better able to help you, you choose someone who's more likely to say yes.

  • Be Specific: To ask for help, it's best to be straightforward. Know in advance exactly what you need, and be specific with your request.
  • Go to the Source: Instead of going to people who are easy to talk to, or people who are more likely to help you, seek help from those whose help you need.
  • Offer an Exchange: It may be easier to ask for help if you offer something in return. For example, if you need someone to pick up your child at daycare so you can work late, offer a playdate in return.

Are you having trouble juggling work and home life? Are you struggling to deal with some tough emotions and need some support? A licensed therapist can help. Please give my office a call today, and let's schedule a time to talk.