Hello everybody, welcome to episode 180 of Optimal Living Advice, the podcast where we take any questions you might have about the many struggles of life and get them answered for you here on the show. Today's question is on how to ask for help.
I’m your host, certified life coach Greg Audino reminding you before we begin that if you have a question you would like help with on the show, we welcome you to email it to us at advice AT oldpodcast.com
All right my friends we’ve got a good question for you today, a question that I’m sure is very impactful for our asker to have sent in. This woman today, like all of us, is in need of help. But because of how independent she is and has proven to be throughout her life, she feels as though people don’t understand that she still needs assistance from time to time. Let’s see what we can do to help her get the help she needs from those around her. Here’s her question
QUESTION: “I feel I'm always helping everyone. Other managers at the job. Helping others grow their business. Then when it comes time for me to get a little help, no one can help me, or I get screwed over.
I have always been a very capable female. Single a long time. Went on a date recently with a guy, he was surprised I bought 2 fur coats and jewelry for myself. I did that years ago. He said he never heard of such a thing.
I just purchased a condo that needs some work done inside the place. I asked a contractor to install a storm door and he said he didn’t have time. I've been raising a daughter for years by myself. I've been doing everything myself. I'm tired of it. The only man that has truly helped me is my dad. He no longer can physically help.
Do people think I don't need HELP?! I do! I do need help.”
Reflection and Accountability
Mmm, on second thought, sounds like you’ve got this under control. I’ll just read another question instead.
Kidding, kidding! You’ve come to the right place! Thanks so much for reaching out.
It really warms my heart to serve as a reminder that there is help out there to be had and that there are many out there who want to help you.
So I’ve got three questions I want to you to ask yourself for some reflection. And I’ll just spend the time today going through them one by one.
I ask you to please be honest with yourself and try to consider many possible answers to these questions so as to set yourself up for some good accountability, because that’s really what this is about – as is the case with many of our struggles.
1. How Are You Asking for Help?
First, how well do you think you’re asking for help? I ask this because there’s a difference between asking for help and expecting help. It’s very important to be precise about how you ask yourself.
This is true for anyone, and I’d say it’s particularly important for you, because oftentimes, when we feel we haven’t gotten enough of something that we feel we’re owed, the idea of continuing to ask for it becomes less enticing.
Instead, it’s easier to throw our hands up in the air, wait for it, and almost laugh as it never seems to arrive. This is a means of projecting past frustrations onto new people that really have nothing to do with those who haven’t helped you in the past.
All they see is someone who seems to be waiting for someone, not someone who is using their words and being clear about what they need.
Don’t fall into this trap. Realize that each person that can help you is a new person, and that your efforts to deliberately ask for help should never end. The clearer you are in your requests for help, the more you sharpen your communication skills and are able to rule out the possibility of you expecting people to read your mind a little too much.
2. How Are You Projecting Yourself?
The second question is how are you projecting yourself to the people you’re asking? Now we just sort of touched upon this, but what I want you to focus on is if the people you want help from also people that you make well-aware of your independence?
Your independence is absolutely something to be proud of, there’s no question about that. But being that we humans are in a constant process of advertising ourselves (the parts of ourselves we’re most proud of, mind you), people may have a hard time seeing you as someone who needs or wants help. They might have a strongly engrained idea of you as someone who is purely independent and may even be offended by the idea of help.
This is not a significant fault of your own. Again, we all do this. Our clothes, our hairstyles, our items all support the parts of ourselves that we’re proud of and want to show, and for you, that could very well be your independence.
One could even argue that your jewelry and fur coats would fall in line with this – especially if you’re quick to tell people that you bought them for yourself (which is not something I’m insinuating, just saying).
A lot of people have a tough time disassociating such things from a person who still needs help, because the purchasing of luxury items is a common thing people seek to do once they have the means.
I am not telling you stop wearing these things or being proud of your independence. I’m also not telling you to act helpless, like a damsel in distress.
What I am saying is that, in your portrayal of yourself, don’t be afraid to leave more room for the side of you that does need help. This is not you acting like someone you’re not, but rather being more open about things you struggle with in addition to things you’re good at, outwardly asking for help when necessary, etc.
3. Are You Recognizing People Who've Provided You Help?
And my final question for you is, are you truly recognizing ways that people have been helping you, or is it possible that you’re stuck in a pattern that instead favors you to look for ways that help is coming up short?
I mentioned this pattern a bit in the first question, too. But in addition to it preventing you from asking for help the right way, it can also prevent you from recognizing the help you’re getting.
This is another common human flaw. We tell ourselves stories such as ,“No one wants to help me,” “I’m not smart enough,” “All Republicans or all Democrats are trash.” We then look to perpetuate or pad those narratives, seeking evidence to further support them, when in reality, we only need to remember a few exceptions to start healing and being more open.
How does this apply to you? Are there ways that people have been helping you that you’re not realizing maybe because you don’t think they’re making big enough contributions, because more people say no to helping you than say yes, or anything else?
The more you keep telling yourself the story that no one helps you, the more challenging it becomes to get help and even perceive the help you do get as being helpful enough.
How to Ask for Help: Conclusion
Think back to the people that have helped you, if even in their own way. They’re out there.
Your Dad is a good start. Who else? Who babysat for your daughter? Who helped you grow your business? Who helped you pick the right condo?
Don’t forget about these people, and remind yourself that they’re just a few who have helped and will continue to help you become the woman you are.
Now, everyone, like I said, answers like the one I’ve provided today put a lot of emphasis on taking responsibility for our own actions. This is a key part of what I do and how I think we can all improve our circumstances.
With that being said, while we don’t want to rely so much on others changing for our problems to be solved, it’s still a wise decision to pay attention to how we’re treated by others and the roles that they do play.
Of course any number of factors could contribute to them behaving in less than desirable ways, but certainly the interactions we have that cause us stress are a blend of the behavior of several people.
And while we can only change our own, taking stock of others can influence us to make good changes within ourselves. That’s going to do it for today. Really hoping out asker got something from this episode.
For everyone else out there, be sure to come on back for 181 as we look to help another listener start the new year off right. Thanks for being here, and I’ll talk to you again soon.