This has been a difficult year for many people and now to top it off, we’re headed into the holiday season, which is a time that can come with its own unique set of challenges and stress. This time of year has the potential to be particularly hard if you're already dealing with pandemic fatigue and other problems, obstacles, and setbacks.
So as we enter the “season of giving” I thought it would be important to take some time to shift the focus away from giving for a moment and shed some light on the value of asking and receiving, particularly in regard to asking for and receiving help and support.
Because when you’re faced with one challenge after another, you can feel overwhelmed and stuck and oftentimes what keeps you feeling stuck is:
Not knowing how to move forward,
Not having what you need to move forward,
And not being able to acknowledge that you don’t know how and you don’t have what you need…
In other words, not being able to acknowledge that you need help.
The truth is, everyone needs help or support at some point, and this is especially true when you are trying to move through challenging times. There comes a point when you need to turn to others for support, guidance, feedback, and perspective in order to move forward.
But asking for help and being open to receive it, comes with its own challenges – for many people it’s not that easy.
One of the most common obstacles to asking for help is fear, and there can be any number of fears that come up and prevent you from asking for the help you need, including:
Fear of judgment or criticism - You might be afraid that if you ask for help, you’ll be perceived as weak, a burden, needy, or selfish.
Fear of rejection – You’re afraid you’ll ask and the person will say no...
Fear of giving up control – You might believe that when you ask for help you are handing over the reins to someone and you’re afraid that this will give them the power to influence or take control of the situation or possibly take advantage of you.
Fear of accountability or disappointing others - You may not want to ask for help because then you’ll be held accountable for your actions and you’re afraid of disappointing others because you have doubts about your ability to follow through or move forward on your own.
And at the root of each of these fears is often the fear of being vulnerable because opening yourself up to receive help, also means opening yourself up to the possibility of being judged, criticized, rejected, overpowered, and disappointed. And so you do what you can to avoid being vulnerable and you try to handle everything on your own...And it may be that you've been doing this for so long that you don’t even recognize the underlying fear. It may be that you’re just not accustomed to asking for help, so you don’t even think of it as an option.
Maybe it’s not the way you were raised, so you learned from a young age to be self-sufficient and not have the need to ask for anything from anyone.
Or maybe you’ve learned through your experiences not to trust that other people will be there to help, or not to trust that others are capable of providing the kind of help you need.
Or perhaps you developed a belief that you aren’t deserving or worthy of receiving help, that others’ needs are more important than yours, or that your needs don’t matter.
Whatever the case may be, it has its consequences. You may be handling things on your own and it may be working out just fine for the most part, but when you don’t ask for help, it can also lead to isolation or feeling alone with your problems. It can limit opportunities for growth, learning, development, and achievement. It also limits your perspective because you’re not giving yourself the chance to hear other people’s input, and it can result in hitting roadblocks or obstacles that you just can’t overcome on your own.
And ASKING for help is just one part of the equation - You also must be open to RECEIVE it, which means:
accepting help, guidance, or support
taking in feedback, new information, and perspective
being willing to be held accountable
using resources that are offered to you
Now it may sound very simple and obvious to say that if you’re going to ask for help you also need to receive it, but I’m sure you‘ve either had the experience yourself, or you know someone who has asked for help and then not used it, or asked for feedback but then ignored it. So, I want to emphasize that in order to receive the most benefits, of course, you need to ask AND receive. And this means having the courage to be vulnerable and knowing that you deserve help, while keeping in mind that:
If you ask for help and someone says no, you’ve really not lost anything - you’re still in the same place as you were before you asked - it’s just what you tell yourself that makes it not feel so good.
Rejection happens to everyone at some point - it's often a part of the process for moving forward and it doesn’t have to be an obstacle.
You can take what you want and leave the rest - ultimately you are in control over what help and support you receive from others and what you do with the feedback.
It’s important to ask the right people for help – If you keep asking someone for help and they never quite give you the help you need, it’s time to ask someone else. If you don’t know who to ask, be persistent in your search and ask around until you find the answer.
The bottom line is, it's worth it.
Asking for and receiving help can give you:
the opportunity for growth and development
increased motivation and accountability
the opportunity to gain new wisdom and insight
greater feelings of competence to help you move through obstacles
an expanded network and new connections
greater chances for success, satisfaction, fulfillment, and happiness
And lastly, keep in mind that by asking for help and support you are not only giving a gift to yourself, but you are also giving a gift to the person you asked because you are giving them the opportunity to give and show their generosity, care, and support.
So, as you’re trying to figure out what to give to others this holiday season, be sure take some time to ask yourself, what do I need help with and who can I ask? And see if you can find the courage to be vulnerable and open yourself up to receive the help and support you need and deserve.