Today I realised that something profoundly affected me on the other day and it tapped right into my deepest insecurities based on past experiences.
Something that has been chip chipping away that I can choose to keep let chip chipping away at me or I can let it go and think with compassion for the person who made me doubt myself again.
Even though I handled it as any professional would it hit buttons and set off triggers which go way back into when I was in one abusive relationship after another because I was depressed and the lower I felt the more abuse I accepted without questioning its validity.
I now have the choice 1. to ask for help, 2. challenge this thinking, or 3. sit with the uncomfortable feelings, accept them and wait for them to dissipate, I find that by sitting with them and familiarizing oneself with where they come from and putting them in some kind of order is the way to put them in the right place, put a lid on it and lock it away in the nasty box.
By writing this blog I am reinforcing this process and by writing to you it is helping me.
But one thing I worked out today is my god how hard it is to pick up the phone and ask for help.
So I wondered WHY ?
And I found this on WikiHow and I thought id share it as some very useful information for anyone struggling to ask for help.
How to Stop Thinking that Accepting Help is a Sign of Weakness
Edited by CBK, IngeborgK, Flickety, Eric and 14 others
While it may sound simple enough, accepting help is something that is extremely challenging for all of us at one time or another. It can be especially hard for those of us that believe that seeking help undermines our independence and our ability to cope. However the truth is that by refusing to accept help we ignore the fact that we are social beings who need to co-operate with one another in order to ensure that we thrive.
Seeing taking help from others as a weakness is often a very ingrained pattern of thinking and may be hard to overcome. However there are ways of changing how you think. The following suggestions may help you overcome seeing accepting help as a sign of weakness and allow you to develop a healthier sense of interdependence with those around you.
1 Consider exactly why you think that asking for help is a sign of weakness. There are many possible reasons that might be influencing your reluctance to seek help from others, and it is important to try and narrow down exactly what reasons apply for you. Without developing insight and understanding why you believe as you do it will be impossible to make any changes. Some of the following reasons might be applicable to you, singly or in combination but have an open mind and consider other possible reasons:
- You may feel that you're totally independent and don't need any help, or that any person offering you help may be doubting your ability to remain independent. You might have been raised to be especially independent or felt independent from an early age as a result of circumstances, such as irresponsible parents resulting in a need to "raise yourself".
- You may be frightened of rejection or you may have a tendency to perfectionism; both motivations can cause you to avoid accepting help for fear of failing or being seen as a failure.
- You may have had a much harder life than others and had to work harder than others you see around you now, or you may simply feel yourself far more independent. Consequently, you might feel that people not handling their own affairs is a sign of inferiority or incompetence.
- You might feel vulnerable. Perhaps somebody let you down in the past and you swore never to let that happen again, and spun a cocoon of self-reliance as your chief defense. Not wanting to show your perceived vulnerability can cause you to refrain from asking for help.
- You may feel that your experience of the insecurity that flows through life (such as through experiencing a difficult illness or other challenging problem) is something that you have coped with alone despite wishing you'd had help, and, in turn, you might wish others get over their own insecurities the same way that you were obliged to do.
- If you're a business owner or professional of any description, you may be worried that needing help can serve as a sign of a lack of professionalism. This is also a problem in public roles where signs of vulnerability may put your position in harms way.
- You may hold a belief that it is a sign of weakness to reveal any problems at all to any other person.
- You may have an unresolved issue of your own that you are essentially denying or ignoring. Consequently, you might have an issue with people seeking help for difficulties, as it serves as a reminder of your own problems that you're not wanting to face.
- You may also have had a lot of difficulty finding anyone to help you in various times of need, and consequently think that people just don't help other people.
- These examples may sometimes be partnered with a feeling that it is socially wrong to ask (or to be a burden) to friends and family for assistance. Or are hindered by a personal fear of being judged or portrayed as weak or inferior. Similar fears are being seen as having friends or family that are weak or inferior, or being associated with people having problems.
2. Work through how not wanting to ever seek help is reinforced by unrealistic ideals and wishful thinking. Sometimes there are conflicting or reinforcing societal ideals that can make it seem a weakness to seek help. If you understand that these "ideals" are but one among many approaches to living, you might be better placed to ease off the obsession with seeing needing help as a weakness. For example:
- There is a common theme running through movies, books and even games, that a hero will gain the highest glory if he or she faces "impossible" problems and magically overcomes them on his or her own. Even historical events have been rewritten to accommodate this unrealistic view of the amazing prowess of leaders throughout time. The problem with this viewpoint is that most heroes and leaders have a lot of helpers and supporters unacknowledged in the wings. Quite often as well there is a lot of just luck - all so easily could things have ended up differently. These "helpers" may not be obvious but they are there, and a good hero or leader will be benefiting greatly from the assistance, advice and input of others. As such, comparing yourself with such unrealistic portrayals of heroes or leaders will only bring you much unhappiness. Even the great scientist Isaac Newton wrote, "If I have seen a little further it is by standing on the shoulders of Giants."
- There is a common tendency to think that you "should" be able to cope alone, to manage without help, or that "life shouldn't be this way". This is a tendency to see the world as it "should be" according to very unrealistic standards, as opposed to seeing the world as it actually "is" – wanting something to be, or something not to be. This isn't healthy thinking in the long-term and it is important to identify what you really want out of life when you feel that you must live through it unaided by others. Quite often this can be enforced by peer pressure or family views.
3. Consider whether your bias to not ask for or seek help has any benefit to yourself and others. By keeping yourself or making yourself aloof from other human beings, you are building an invisible barrier around yourself that wards off the potential for new relationships and friendships. You might feel a sense of safety but you are missing out on learning about reciprocal give and take, where you not only take help but also provide help in return, all within a compassionate cycle of love, care, and generosity for all.
- It can be a somewhat arrogant self-deceit to think that you can give help and advice but never need to accept it in return. This ultimately just leads to loneliness and despair as it only serves to isolate yourself from others.
- Consider reciprocity, think about times you've helped others with your own specialties which can give you confidence in asking others for help or advice.
- Take care not to be bamboozled by the aura of your own expertise. Being trained in one field of expertise does not provide you with immunity from continuing to seek help from others within that same field or from other people in other fields. Your research, advice and practical skills will be all the better for asking for help from others, as well as gaining access to new methods and ideas that can make a great benefit for all.
4 Look to reality instead of relying on wishful thinking. If you can overcome the underlying negative reasons as to why you won't seek help, coupled with having a better understanding of your unrealistic thought patterns, it is possible to start finding pathways to letting others help you. Some of the things you might consider doing include: Learn to accept offers of help. Recognise that people are acting in good faith in general. If another person is being kind in offering help, accepting it at face value is the first step.
The next time the thought crosses your mind that you could do with help sorting out a problem, carrying a heavy box, making dinner, working out a work dilemma, etc., act on it. Decide on who you will ask, phrase the request in your head, and go and ask for help.
Don't seek to ask for help from just anybody. Choose wisely and carefully – avoid people who make you feel a lesser person in any way, and even with those you do trust, take it slowly. Find people you really trust to try out asking for help first. This will allow you to open up bit by bit, and not be exposed to someone who might not do the right thing by you, or who might make you feel "weak" for asking.
5. Expect some paradoxes. In opening yourself up to others by asking for help, a couple of key paradoxes will confront you. Rather than seeing this as a challenge, look for solutions to your concern about being seen as too weak: Abating your fear of rejection: In fearing rejection, you open yourself up to allowing others to be the judge of your worth. This is needier by far than asking for tangible help! Don't let your self-view be coloured by how you think others might or might not choose to accept you.
Strength: In order to seek help, you need to be strong enough to accept that you have weaknesses (remember, no-one is perfect!), and you need to be stronger still to accept help. While burying problems may seem strong, it is the same as running and hiding.
Giving: In order to get, you need to give. If you keep cutting yourself off from opening up to others, you risk not sharing your skills, talents, and abilities with others in need of help. In giving of yourself (your time, your listening ear, your love, your care, etc.), you are helping another to learn more about you, to be able to care for you, and to feel that you reciprocate the attention that they bestow upon you. In helping another person, you cease to focus on yourself. And when you cease to focus on yourself, it is far easier to accept support back from the other.
Trust: In order to receive help, you need to trust the other person and to trust that you're worthy of help (self-respect). This might be the hardest part but it is absolutely vital. Wholesome, accepting, self-assured trust is capable of absorbing rejection, attracting genuine help, and will easily detect the occasional exploitative person. (In the case of meeting an exploitative person, remember that it is about their karma, not your worth.)
6. Beware the illusion that all problems are easy or that problems needing solving only apply to some people. It can be all too easy to dismiss the worth or depth of your own problems, and thereby seek to apologise for your need for help. There is no hierarchy of problems, or scale of pain. A problem is a problem, whatever its ease or difficulty – the litmus test is how much it is impacting you negatively, preventing you from moving forward. Belittling your problem as not worthy of being solved only serves to make it even more challenging to cope with.
7. Prioritise your problems. It might help you to develop a system whereby you prioritise your wish to seek help from other people. If it is a problem you feel you can fix and actually do so effectively on your own, then do it. If it's one where you cannot see a way you can deal with it alone, then talk to someone, be it a friend or trusty confidante about how to fix it on your own, or about who to ask for assistance. Let go of the problems that no one can fix. There lies the greatest strength of all as there is a big difference between "burying" problems in comparison to accepting, forgiving and letting them go. If you need help to do that, really don't be afraid to ask for it.
- The more and more we live in a society where people fail to help one another, by not accepting help or denying that we need help we deny other peoples opportunity to be giving and kind which perpetuates the degradation of our society.
- If you have a disability, accept that the reality of not having the same abilities other people do is not a character flaw. You don't deserve humiliation or patronizing attitudes.
- Try swapping skills instead of just asking help, offer something you can do easily in exchange for things you need help with.
- Asking or needing help is wonderful lesson in humility and essential to develop skills of compassion, but also remember that even when you ask for divine help, it is through human hands and hearts that the help comes.
- "Simple" solutions, really don't always mean "easy" implementation. Just asking for advice and then going back into a cocoon just reinforces the problem - if ever you need more assistance or advice there is a wide range of services and people you can turn to.
- Avoid letting your own problems rest undealt with, for they are the building ground of these feelings.
- Understand that by rejecting help even when you need it, you are perpetuating the idea that any trouble or weakness means that a person is less worthy or deserving of help. You may be seen as denigrating others when you struggle with something that would be easier with help.
- It is, perhaps, a habit to judge ourselves and other people according to our feelings and ideas and then form conclusions about their position. Ultimately you have to ask if and how this judging helps yourself or others, especially in times of need. If you can live without judging yourself (and others), consider if this can help you resolve your own challenges and improve your general well-being.