For the past several years I’ve begun doing something that’s taken me half my life to learn. I’ve started asking for help. This was new territory for me and I only did it after hitting rock bottom emotionally and financially in the aftermath of my divorce several years ago.
At that time I was exhausted, scared and overwhelmed but I believed that I needed to keep up a good front for my kids, friends and even mere acquaintances around town. After all, there’s nothing more pathetic than a whiny woman right? I had always equated asking for help as a sign of weakness and failure, feelings that were unfamiliar to me. Up until then I had been successful and managed adversity on my own. I had moved across country without a job or even a friend at 22 years old. I started my first business at 26 and was making a six-figure salary before I was 30. When the unthinkable happened and my first son died of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome I pulled myself through some of the darkest hours of my life.
But weathering the storm of my divorce while trying to rebuild a business and be mom to my three kids (one with special needs) was my breaking point. It became evident that I had no choice – I had to reach out for help.
Why are we afraid to ask for help when we need it? Usually it’s because, as strong women, we’ve convinced ourselves that we can handle anything – (cue music) WE ARE WONDERWOMAN – ABLE TO DEFLECT ANY BULLET THAT COMES OUR WAY. We say we don’t want to burden anyone with our problems and we don’t want to be “that friend” who elicits eye-rolls and avoidance maneuvers, but the truth is we don’t want to admit we’re vulnerable. We’re embarrassed by our perceived weakness and it makes us scared.
The first time I asked for help and admitted how difficult things were it took every ounce of courage I had. What’s interesting is that the person I chose to confide in wasn’t a life-long friend but rather a new acquaintance. I was literally brought to tears by her simple statement “What can I do to help?” It opened a door into my soul that I had kept locked tight for so many years. It was scary but also remarkably liberating. I no longer had to always be the strong one! The relief was incredible. From then on I started asking for help when I needed it, whether it was a shoulder to cry on, someone to pick up the kids from school when I was working or even financial help as I was trying to get back on my feet.
Not only were people willing to help but they started to open up about their own needs as well. It soon became evident that many of us within my social circle had been silently struggling for years when all we needed to do was simply ask each other for help.
Now, I’ve become fearless in asking for help. It’s allowed me to eliminate incredible stress and focus on moving forward in a positive manner, knowing that I had the support and love of my friends. Because of this I am now happy and successful both professionally and personally.
Learning to admit your fears and ask for help in order to become confident and happy is the core of my Get Real, Get Strong, Get Happy coaching program. Perhaps you’ve been afraid to ask for help in one of these areas:
- Help leaving a bad marriage
- Help for a child with an addiction
- Help as you’re struggling financially
- Help when you feel vulnerable or lonely
Here are three tips on how to get past your fear and ask for help:
Be clear about what you need. There’s nothing worse than wanting to help someone but not knowing how. Be very specific as to how a friend can help you.
If it’s hard to say at first, write it down. If you’ve never asked for help before it might be easier to write down your feelings first or even ask over the phone. But if that’s the case, explain to the person that it’s very difficult to ask for help and you’re trying to work up the courage to talk in person.
Choose the right friend for the right help. If you need help re-writing your resume, ask a friend who is a great writer or business savvy. If you need help watching your kids afterschool, ask another stay at home mom or someone who isn’t working full time. If you need support losing weight be sure to ask someone who either has the same goal or someone who can motivate you. Chances are you’ll have greater success asking someone who inspires you rather than brings you down.