Written by: Phindile Le Bris Sithole-Spong
Over the past few weeks, I have been finding myself in deep conversation with my friends and loved ones on asking for help. As someone who has always struggled to ask for help myself. I have been trying to change my approach in the new year. In part because I realized that in order to get help, one needs to ask. But also because as much as we may not want to. Asking for help can free us up mentally, emotionally and physically. And as a mom to a toddler, I can tell you now that asking for help is imperative. Not only for mental health. But for my overall wellbeing.
Which is why I now ask for help as often as possible. But in so doing there are some things I have learnt about asking for help and I thought I might share them with you. Because no matter who we are and what we do, we could all use a little help.
- Just because you ask you may not always get it: The hardest pill to swallow when asking for help is realizing that even if you do ask. You may not get it. Someone may not be able to help you because of their own issues. Or just because they simply can't. What ever the reason. Allowing those you ask for help to say no is as important as knowing who to ask. It shows a great deal of courage to accept a no. Even if it hurts. No is a full sentence, one that you should allow loved ones and yourself to say without explanation.
- Know who to ask for help: Knowing who to ask for help is a key component to getting the help you require. For instance, asking a friend who is not comfortable with children to take care of your child while you work or recuperate from an illness is a recipe for disaster. Focus on asking friends and loved ones for things you know you are good at. Another thing to remember is that if you ask something of someone, you should be ok if they ask you for the same thing back.
- Don't just ask for the sake of asking: One thing I personally dislike is people asking me for things all the time. Having a friend, or loved one ask you for something all the time can be exhausting. It can start to feel like your relationship is based solely on them being able to get something from you. Which is why it is important to ask for help when you need it. And when possible, space out your requests.
- Asking for help is not a sign of weakness: Letting go of the idea that I had to be able to do it all has been one of the most liberating experiences. It has allowed me to ask for help when I need it. But also see areas in my life where I could let go and ask someone else to help. Another way of thinking of this idea is to ask yourself how you felt the last time you helped someone? Did you feel like they were weak or did you just think they needed assistance? Also remember that it takes great courage to ask for help. It shows vulnerability and strength.
I hope this tips will help you better navigate the etiquette of asking for help better. And empower you to ask for help when needed. When was the last time you asked for help or helped someone else?