Asking for help can be a hard thing to do and most people wait until it is too late to seek the help of others. Asking for help is not a sign of weakness.

Asking for help is actually an indicator of strength because it demonstrates you are confident in who you are and what you know you can
— and cannot — accomplish on your own.

Some believe asking for help defies the idea of a self-reliant pioneer spirit that founded America. Helping others is actually how the West was won. You needed other people to survive. You created a necessary community of relying to forge a better life for everyone. There is no greater threat to the community core than saying, “I’ll do it myself.”

You don’t have to be dramatic or meek to ask for help. Just lower your pride and ask without demanding. “Will you please help me?” is always better than, “I need you to help me.” Asking for help humanizes you by making you stronger in the revelation of your vulnerabilities. Asking for help gives you definition and creates the foundation for community values from which greatness and longevity spring.

20 Comments

  1. Hi Anne!
    Why don’t you like to ask for help? Is it because you don’t need it or because you don’t want to look weak?
    Sometimes “helping” someone is to point them in the right direction. Helping doesn’t mean doing.

  2. Anne –
    I understand what you mean. Maybe you’re incredibly efficient and you don’t need much help. If, however, you feel you need some help – you shouldn’t shy away from asking.

  3. Yes, Anne, communication is important! You might owe that person a solid later on but sometimes that’s better than failing to ask for help when you need it and leaving yourself even deeper in debt after the failure.

  4. I’m speechless. You have so beautifully described what I battle with on a daily basis.
    A few years ago, I finally found the strength to ask for the psychological help I had needed for so long. After seeking financial help from my family, I “voluntarily” checked into an inpatient program. A month into my treatment, my team of therapists and doctors started calling me “Ms. Independent”. And they were so right! There I was surrounded by some of the world’s finest physicians and counselors willing to give me the help I asked for, but I was back to “doing it by myself.”
    I still struggle with asking for help. Why do I struggle when I know that I can’t do it by myself? Why do I struggle when I know that doing it by myself isolates me from family and friends?
    While I find my isolation to be extremely painful,I find rejection to be downright brutal. In my world rejection never varies in degrees. It’s always extremely hot. My first experience with rejection was so painful. And it left me feeling so ashamed. I have avoided rejection ever since.
    Do you think the fear of rejection is always about self-preservation/pride? Is it possible that I have misused my fear of rejection as a method of self-protection/survival, having nothing to do with pride?

  5. Hi Conflictedred —
    Thank you for your comment and welcome to this blog!
    I appreciate you taking my post today and directing the discussion into an even more fascinating realm: Asking for help can have deep ramifications beyond the workplace. Communities are curried in all aspects of our shared lives together and your wondering is important to discuss.
    I feel for you and I am happy you were able to ask for psychological help from professionals with the assistance of your family. That was a big and difficult step to take and some of us are never able to make that move on their own.
    I’m not an expert or a professional so take the rest of what I say merely as friendly advice. Perhaps you struggle with asking for help because you feel it makes you seem less capable or it feels like stepping back into a childhood role you do not appreciate?
    Rejection is a hard part of life. As an artist and a writer my friends and I deal with it every single day and it is something you must just get used to – it all has to just keep rolling off your back or you will never be able to press forward.
    Rejection and disappointment are pieces of life that are not well-advertised but they are real and they are heavy and they must he heaved up the hill every day we live.
    Perhaps your fear of rejection is what allows you an excuse for not living up to the expectations others press against you?
    Rejection can be a powerful tool for NOT being and for NOT working and NOT caring, but taking rejection along with acceptance – each opposite sides of the “Help” coin — is what marks a mature human being.
    Getting there is dark and dangerous business and that’s why we need to enlist the help of others who have been there before and who share our drive to light the dim path ahead.

  6. Excellent article, David!
    I saw one of my very good friends struggling when she was in a severe clinical depression; she tried to fight for seven/ eight months on her own just because she didn’t want to go for a professional help.
    Finally when she visited the doctor for the first time she asked me to accompany her and her struggle brought tears in my eyes. After the exchange of initial greetings with the doctor she was silent for almost five minutes. Then she simply told, “I think I am suffering from severe depression for last seven/ eight months, I need some medication.” The doctor asked one question, “What made you wait so long?”
    I saw my friend was almost on the verge of break down, “I don’t know, pride perhaps…the very thought of seeking professional help was so humiliating, in fact it still is…”
    The doctor then explained in a few sentences that depression is something that can’t be controlled by sheer will power. It’s like any other sickness – one needs medical help.
    This was one of the most shocking and painful experience of my life.
    I am lucky enough to get some unexpected help and guidance in my life, but at the same time I experienced some very harsh treatment when I expressed my need for help; it has been viewed as a manifestation of dependence.
    I, myself have a hard time asking for help. The more near and dear the person is, the tougher it is for me. I think the reason is the same like Conflictedred – fear of rejection.

  7. Hi Katha —
    It is hard to take that step and ask a doctor for help. In New York it is especially hard because general practitioners usually will not prescribe a psychotropic drug. They want a psychiatrist to do that.
    Many people need a referral to see a doctor other than their primary care physician. Getting that referral and making another appointment can take weeks. Not all psychiatrists accept all insurance so you might find one but then not be able to either get an appointment or have the right insurance and you have to start the search all over.
    Most psychiatrists will not just write out a prescription. They want full analyses of your mind and body and some even want blood work done before one pill leaves their hand in a prescription and that delays and complicates the cry for help even more.
    Brain chemistry is a difficult thing to assess and “fix” and I admire those who go through the process to get on the right path to feeling better.

  8. The process here is almost like back home. No general physician would prescribe any psychotropic drug there too, and the psychiatrist would need all possible medical reports before starting any kind of treatment.
    To add more, consider the stigma attached to any kind of mental illness because of sheer ignorance.
    One of my friend’s father started suffering from Alzheimer’s disease when his sister was 23 years old, the first thing happened was her engagement broke, she still couldn’t find anyone empathetic enough to be a companion of her.
    Back home the extent of ignorance and stigma is such that if anyone comes to know that you are asking for professional help for even counseling (forget about depression or something similar like it) – it would be automatically assumed that you are a lunatic and to top it all it would be viewed as genetic without even any proper proof.

  9. You’re right about the consciousness of the community influencing the availability of help, Katha. When I grew up in Nebraska it was thought to be weak to seek psychiatric help and if you dared to seek help you risked branding yourself and weak of constitution.
    In New York, shrinks and “brain meds” are quite commonplace! The community sets the standard of the mind, I suppose.
    In one of the classes I taught I asked my graduate medical students if their parents — who were not American born — had a word for “depression.”
    The students reported back — Thai, Indian, Nigerian — that their parents knew of no such word and a dictionary had to be consulted for a definition and in a couple of instances there was no such concept in the culture that needed a word to define that state of mind!
    Most of those cultures referred to “depression” as “feeling sad” and it was up to the owner of the mind to “pep up” and get happy on their own without bothering anyone else over it! “Depression” is seen as a “dirty” American concept that deserves no higher thought beyond our national boundaries.

  10. You are absolutely right about “depression” viewed as some kind of “sad feeling” along with the idea of curing it by “pepping up on your own without bothering anyone.” This was the reason my friend was so reluctant to seek help. She didn’t want to be viewed as weak.
    I never saw someone labeling it as “dirty American concept” but I have seen it to be tagged as a “luxury of idle thinking/ luxury of too much of brooding” etc. People just can’t take it the way they can accept “flue” or something similar.
    Even, I had a hard time accepting that “depression” can’t be cured on its own; one needs to take medicine for it.
    I used to host various talk-shows on a National Radio Channel(kind of NPR) and needed to research a lot on various topics which helped me to know more about it.
    I have seen people refraining from offering suggestion to even their closest relatives that they might need psychiatric help. By doing it you might even risk the relationship. Your offer of helping will be viewed as some unwanted, unwelcome advice.
    Though I never refrained from telling people when I felt there was a genuine need to seek professional psychiatric help.
    Sometimes, some people really got saved by following the doctor’s advice and thanked me, some blamed me for “knowing too much and seeing demon everywhere…”
    Tragic.

  11. It is tragic, Katha. There has to be a better, faster, way to universally get the “brain sick” help as if they were cut and bleeding in the street. The graphic visual gets the attention while the quiet internal gets ignored — yet they both have the same emergency effect on the body.

  12. In fact, in my opinion – those who bleed internally they need more attention because they take much longer time to heal.
    In regards to my country, I can say, we need more awareness. We need to overcome the stigma. We need to risk our close relationships. If, at least 1% goes to seek professional help…

  13. You are right the silent bleeders suffer the most in invisibility. Let’s hope some things will change in your country and around the world and “depression” takes on the hardcore clinical meaning it deserves.