How asking for help is actually a sign of great strength

Is it a sign of weakness if you need to ask for help when your car breaks down?

Is it a sign of weakness if you need to ask for help when you need to lift something heavy?

Is it a sign of weakness if you need to ask for help when there’s something you don’t know how to do (cook a soufflé, change a tap washer, thank someone in Japanese, de-flea a cat)?

I wouldn’t class any of these as signs of weakness.

Signs of sense, more like.

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There are always going to be times when you need the support, strength and wisdom of others.

Times when it would be daft and possibly dangerous to fool yourself that you can struggle on alone.

There’s at least one area of life, however, where asking for help is much harder, and that’s when you need assistance with emotional issues.

For some reason, we may believe we’re ‘supposed’ to soldier on alone, carrying an unbearable burden.

I suspect that if you heard a friend was behaving in this manner, you’d regard them as rather foolish.

Why on earth didn’t they ask for help?

Yet when it comes to ourselves it can be all too easy to see things in an entirely different way.

Don’t.

Everyone gets tired or overwhelmed now and then.

We all struggle with how we feel, especially when things go wrong.

Your family and friends may be more than happy to help, but you’ll need to take that brave first step of admitting you’re having a hard time.

There are support groups, too.

And professional advisors, with whom your doctor may be able to connect you as a first port of call.

Be realistic when you ask for help.

The first person you approach may not have the answers or skills.

(I’d be zero help with your soufflé, for instance.)

But each individual to whom you open up can take you a step closer to someone who’ll help you get through things.

Asking for help isn’t always easy, but it is always sensible.

11 thoughts on “How asking for help is actually a sign of great strength

  1. Really grateful for this post, Jon. Asking for help has the potential to make one feel exceedingly vulnerable but long term, I agree; being honest about emotions is probably the best bet. Thank you. Go well!

  2. I am so so so struggling at the minute. I desperately need help because I have no idea what to do or where to go. Instead of asking for help I am pushing everyone so far away. I am so scared and so lonely.

    1. Oh Joanne, I’m so very sorry to hear you’re having such a hard time. You know you need help but don’t know what to do to get it, and you feel you’re turning your back on some of the people around you.

      I wonder if you’ve considered speaking to your Doctor? If you haven’t already done so, this could be a useful step.

      I also wonder if there’s one person you know that you could truly confide in? Someone you could talk to about how you honestly feel?

      If it’s the tiniest of comforts, please know that I’m thinking of you. I’m sure the same will be true of thousands of others who read Moodnudges.

      Please take care.

    2. Joanne, I didn’t see your comment before I posted. Note what I say about how helping makes me feel. I bet there is someone who you know who would actually get a real boost by being asked to help you — maybe just to listen. I will be sending positive thoughts and mental hugs your way.

    3. Dear Joanne, you’ve made a first brave step by admitting there is a problem. Well done. Take Jons advice, you need to just tell either the doctor or the person closest to you that you need help. When I am in a bad place it helps me to write my thoughts down. You are going to be ok, my thoughts are with you. Kathryn

  3. I think I’d put it even more strongly: it is *healthy* to ask for help. I worry about people who can’t / won’t ask for help.

    I personally feel It is a often a great joy to be asked to help and to be able to give something that is so appreciated — to feel really needed. I would feel awful thinking that someone I love had decided NOT to ask me to help, especially if this had dark consequences.

    As always, thanks!

  4. Joanne, Jon’s advice is a great place to start to ask for help and please don’t be afraid or embarrassed to seek help. You seem to be quite distressed going by your comments and this feeling of being overwhelmed could stop in a moment if you just talk to someone.
    Surely, the risk of feeling embarrassed is less of a concern than the way you are feeling now. I really encourage you to speak to someone who you trust and get your concerns out in the open.
    ‘A problem shared is a problem halved.’
    Although it is a clique it is very often true.
    Be brave, be safe and take care.

  5. Hi Joanne,
    Have you been to see your Doctor and got a diagnosis of what the illness is? Take care, stay strong, and try and not be hard on yourself.

  6. I have been asking for help as I feel I am losing control. I suffer with constant suicide ideation and lately plans which are coming really close to being carried out. I cannot seem to get help from my gp or my psych team as I have a diagnosis of Borderline PD.
    It is starting to make me not want to reach out for help as I am never heard.

    I feel as if they are leaving it to chance i regards to my safety.

    You can ask for help but sometimes your cries for help fall on deaf ears

    1. Elaine,

      Things sound incredibly hard for you right now, and I’m very sorry to hear you’ve not been getting the help you need.

      You’ve said you’re having real thoughts of harming yourself, so I can only urge you in the strongest possible terms to make contact with someone who *will* definitely listen. Perhaps a telephone hotline to begin with?

      I’m sure the community here will be thinking of you, but you probably need a deeper human connection just at the moment.

      I don’t know where you are in the world, but if you were in the UK I’d suggest calling The Samaritans on 116 123 or you could email jo@samaritans.org

      I’ve no involvement with The Samaritans beyond knowing some volunteers — but I do know that in general they provide an incredibly valuable and non-judgemental listening service.

      Other countries have similarly brilliant services.

      Please try to find someone to listen to you as soon as you can.

      Thinking of you

      Jon

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