Asking for help for me is like the tongue-in-cheek stereotype of the man refusing to ask for directions.
I actually get why men do it. It is so much more gratifying for me to be able to complete a task or “mission impossible” on my own without outside intervention. To ask for help indicates that I’ve failed in some way.
At least that’s how it feels.
For example, one day my husband and I were waiting around for a sales associate at a hardware superstore to come and help us with an item. After a few minutes, it became painfully apparent that if I didn’t find a bathroom – it would not end well.
“I think the bathrooms are up front, near the registers,” my husband suggested. “Go ahead, we don’t need both of us to wait here.”
“Ok! Be back in a few,” I said and made a beeline for the front. I traversed the entire front of the store (unless you desperately have to pee, you do not know how far of a walk that really is), and found no bathroom. Frustrated and defeated, I walked back to the aisle where my husband was standing, still waiting.
“Couldn’t find it,” I said rather pointedly, though I didn’t mean it to.
“Well, why don’t you ask someone?”
Ever the voice of reason, my husband. But in my mind, asking for a bathroom sounded like begging. I wasn’t even sure if they HAD a public bathroom. And to be turned down sounded worse than not asking at all. So I made up my mind. I would rather stand there and suffer than to seek help. Maybe it was a cry for sympathy. But my husband, knowing me well, just rolled his eyes and didn’t press the matter.
He also married a stubborn woman.
‘There MUST be a bathroom, and I WILL find it!’ I at last decided.
I left him again and made a recon mission to stalk the perimeter of the store. Within a couple of minutes, I gloriously found the enclave where they hid the men’s and women’s bathrooms. A wash of happiness came over me. I returned back to my husband, both happily relieved – and not a bit proud of myself.
We have our reasons for why we’d rather go without
While that story has a happy ending, there are many that do not. I can’t count how many times I’ve avoided my husband’s sound advice again and again when in a store (grocery store, clothes store, book store, you name it) and decided to go without the desired item rather than to ask for help in finding it.
Maybe it’s social conditioning. Maybe it’s coming from a long line of independent, determined and stubborn women in my family. Maybe I have a complex.
Many women have their own reasons why they dread asking for help. Some are afraid of being turned down. Others are taught that asking for help is weakness and fear being viewed that way. Others are simply afraid to trust others – and thus she reasons that no one can do said job they way SHE would do it, and might as well do it herself.
Whatever the reason, there is an easy way to stop dreading asking for help!
Ask for help, and make someone’s day
A trick I have learned is to remind myself what it feels like to be asked by someone else for assistance. Do you remember the last time a friend or a stranger asked you to help them out? Remember how much they appreciated it? Do you recall how good you felt afterward?
As human beings, we are wired to be socially supportive. That’s why our brains get filled with happy hormones after we’ve helped someone out of a bind.
So think about that next time when you are stubbornly refusing to ask for help. You are robbing someone of a feel-good moment of the day! And the more we thank someone for their help, the more they feel they truly made a difference in your day – and adds a spring to their step.
Help makes you a hero
Jobs we have or roles we undertake at work, as a student, or as a parent requires us to be efficient and, well, get the job done! But whether it’s a project for work, an assignment for school, or it’s Operation Dinnertime, our trepidation in asking for assistance can get in the way of accomplishing great things.
So help from others isn’t a cry for help. It’s using our resources wisely – which includes utilizing those who may have the missing piece of information or a few scraps of time we don’t have that will help us get our jobs completed.
So dinner gets made, and your family eagerly awaits a plateful. A big, stressful job at work gets put to bed and earns you some brownie points with the boss. You arrive at Disneyland before lunch and the kids love you. A paper gets written, and maybe helps bring up a grade. You still get the job done by yourself. You just got it done faster, and more efficiently.
Are you ready to accept that help now?
It’s not easy. But I’ll tell you what – I’ll ask a store clerk at the supermarket for something I already know where to find, just to break myself in. And I’ll be sure to thoroughly express my thanks and appreciation for the work they do.
You want to give it a try?
If you do, I’d love to hear about your experience. Comment below or send me an email. I can’t wait to hear how it worked out for you!
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