Why is it so much easier to help others, then to ask for help? Is it because you want to show people you’re tough, you don’t need anyone? In fact, it’s a missed opportunity. Asking for help is a sign of strength. Here’s why.
Helping someone with their luggage, grabbing something from the highest shelf in the supermarket, lifting a buggy into the bus, explaining something to someone who just visits the gym for the first time – all of it hardly costs any effort, but afterwards, you feel good. This is how it works for you, and exactly how it works for others. So think of it this way: by asking for help, you make someone else feel good, you’re doing them a favour too.
Sure, it’s nice to be able to do everything on your own, but it also means you’re not learning too many new things. If you need help, you’re clearly outside of your comfort zone, and that’s the place where you learn the most. If someone with more knowledge and skills is able to help you, your learning curve is going straight up. Besides, most people really like to be able to share their knowledge and experience with someone who really benefits from it. It’s like with reason 1: your helper will be happy, too.
Asking for help is a way to take care of yourself. If you keep asking too much of yourself, you’ll get exhausted and maybe even burnout. By asking people for help, you enable yourself to switch back to a lower pace and relax when you need to. It makes you function better, which is also beneficial for the people around you. Besides, you’re taking full responsibility for your own wellbeing.
Asking for helps means being vulnerable. People interpret this as a sign of trust and friendship, which makes them like you. This also works with people who aren’t all that easy to cooperate with. If you ask them to help you with a small chore, and show genuine gratitude for it, it’ll improve your connection. Think of it like this: by helping each other, contacts are enforced.
Michele L. Sullivan says beautiful things about asking for help. She travels a lot and she’s in a wheelchair – she simply can’t avoid to ask for help when she’s travelling. In her TED talk ‘Asking for help is a strength, not a weakness’, she discusses the remarkable situations and conversations she gets into. Asking for help brings her contact and connection, and it taught her that everybody needs a little help every once in a while – even the people who don’t show on the outside.
Maybe that’s the most important thing: by asking for help, you’re showing others it’s OK to do so. So if you need help, grab that opportunity and ask for it. Allow others to lend a hand. We’re in this world to help each other, perhaps it’ll make all of us a little kinder.
Text: Anne Wesseling – Photo: Milada Vigerova
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