Getting COMFY with getting help

from Jan

I can't recall any person I've met that doesn't feel at least a little uncomfortable asking for help.  And, while, intellectually I know that asking for help when you need it is a strength, I am HORRIBLE at it. In the past 6 months or so, I've decided that I need to get better at it. Not only to provide a better example for Joshua, but also because sometimes I do, legitimately, need help...and that is OK! 

I started thinking about this more a few months ago, when it was brought to our attention that Joshua was having trouble with fine motor skills. To respect his privacy, I will not go into all of the details, but I can generally say, that any assistance we have sought out for him has been presented to him as time to play without really telling him why he was all of the sudden "playing" with a new adult on a regular scheduleJeremy and I try to use very straightforward, age-appropriatenon-judgemental language to explain to Joshua the challenges he is having and point out other friends who get help for their challenges (both adults and kids)He is comfortable with this and it frustrates me that adults (mostly) are so uncomfortable with needing help that they try to cover it up for children. Perhaps this is some of the way it all startedHe is not so caught up in expectations and embarrassments yet (ah, to be young) so he sees nothing wrong with needing help with somethingswhether it is fine motor skills or figuring out which toy construction vehicle is best for scooping blocks. 

In another situation, I have an (adult) friend who has experienced some chronic health problems over the past year. When I offered to bring some meals for her family, she simply said, "Yes, that would be wonderful." No apologizing for needing help. No attempts to reassure me that I didn't need to go to the trouble.  Just, "yes, that would be wonderful."  What a great role model. A couple of weeks ago, I was not feeling well and, for the first time I can remember, I said to Jeremy, "I don't feel well, can we just go out somewhere easy for dinner rather than me cooking?"  Do you know what he said, "Sure, would you rather I go pick food up so you don't have to go out?"  How often do we push ourselves further than we need to rather than ask for some simple help?  (Jeremy would respond, "too much" in my case!)  Not only did I feel better physically that night, but I felt good about myself for asking for help and happy that I have family members who cared to help! 

How did I muster up the courage to ask for help without feeling so guilty that it outweighed the help I was getting? I started by figuring out what helping act would benefit my situation most.  Then, I had to balance that with a decision on how to make a reasonable, realistic request.  So, while staying in bed all day might have benefited my situation best, it was not realistic.  However, not to have to cook dinner was a reasonable request and an considerable break in my day.  And, for me, importantly, it was a request I could make without feeling like I had unreasonably burdened anyone and that gave me peace of mind so I could fully benefit from the break I was getting.  Who knew I was so complicated! 

I've highlighted just a few examples, but I'm sure you can all think of many examples of things that seem trivial, and others life-changing, where we bulk at asking for help while we would encourage others to do so in the same situation. I do truly believe that getting help or support for challenges is a strength.  (I do have a social work degree, after all!) But, why has it become so hard to apply this lesson to ourselves? I think the roots are in situations like Joshua's.  His "help" is presented to him as "play" so that he doesn't feel bad about needing it.  Let's start reframing that conversation: asking for and receiving help is learning how to be fine with not being fine; is using your own greatest resource: your knowledge of yourself, to seek out the assistance you need; and is believing that your situation can improve. 

 

I can't recall any person I've met that doesn't feel at least a little uncomfortable asking for help.  And, while, intellectually I know that asking for help when you need it is a strength, I am HORRIBLE at it. In the past 6 months or so, I've decided that I need to get better at it. Not only to provide a better example for Joshua, but also because sometimes I do, legitimately, need help...and that is OK! 

I started thinking about this more a few months ago, when it was brought to our attention that Joshua was having trouble with fine motor skills. To respect his privacy, I will not go into all of the details, but I can generally say, that any assistance we have sought out for him has been presented to him as time to play without really telling him why he was all of the sudden "playing" with a new adult on a regular scheduleJeremy and I try to use very straightforward, age-appropriatenon-judgemental language to explain to Joshua the challenges he is having and point out other friends who get help for their challenges (both adults and kids)He is comfortable with this and it frustrates me that adults (mostly) are so uncomfortable with needing help that they try to cover it up for children. Perhaps this is some of the way it all startedHe is not so caught up in expectations and embarrassments yet (ah, to be young) so he sees nothing wrong with needing help with somethingswhether it is fine motor skills or figuring out which toy construction vehicle is best for scooping blocks. 

In another situation, I have an (adult) friend who has experienced some chronic health problems over the past year. When I offered to bring some meals for her family, she simply said, "Yes, that would be wonderful." No apologizing for needing help. No attempts to reassure me that I didn't need to go to the trouble.  Just, "yes, that would be wonderful."  What a great role model. A couple of weeks ago, I was not feeling well and, for the first time I can remember, I said to Jeremy, "I don't feel well, can we just go out somewhere easy for dinner rather than me cooking?"  Do you know what he said, "Sure, would you rather I go pick food up so you don't have to go out?"  How often do we push ourselves further than we need to rather than ask for some simple help?  (Jeremy would respond, "too much" in my case!)  Not only did I feel better physically that night, but I felt good about myself for asking for help and happy that I have family members who cared to help! 

How did I muster up the courage to ask for help without feeling so guilty that it outweighed the help I was getting? I started by figuring out what helping act would benefit my situation most.  Then, I had to balance that with a decision on how to make a reasonable, realistic request.  So, while staying in bed all day might have benefited my situation best, it was not realistic.  However, not to have to cook dinner was a reasonable request and an considerable break in my day.  And, for me, importantly, it was a request I could make without feeling like I had unreasonably burdened anyone and that gave me peace of mind so I could fully benefit from the break I was getting.  Who knew I was so complicated! 

I've highlighted just a few examples, but I'm sure you can all think of many examples of things that seem trivial, and others life-changing, where we bulk at asking for help while we would encourages others to do so in the same situation. I do truly believe that getting help or support for challenges is a strength.  (I do have a social work degree, after all!) But, why has it become so hard to apply this lesson to ourselves? I think the roots are in situations like Joshua's.  His "help" is presented to him as "play" so that he doesn't feel bad about needing it.  Let's start reframing that conversation: asking for and receiving help is learning how to be fine with not being fine; is using your own greatest resource: your knowledge of yourself, to seek out the assistance you need; and is believing that your situation can improve.