I’m half Irish, half Italian, and my mother’s son, so if I’m not stubborn I don’t know what I am. I am not good at paying attention to my body when it tells me to slow down, and I’m even worse at listening to people when they tell me to do the same. If I vehemently believe something, good luck trying to convince me otherwise. Being stubborn is not the worse quality in the world, but it does tend to get in the way of one of life’s biggest community builders–asking for help.

Last year, I designed and helped run a powerful developmental weekend for 25 men in their twenties. We talked about the weight they carry around every day in the shape of responsibilities and fears. During the weekend one of the participants, Cuyler, asked of my co-facilitator:

“How do you get better at asking for help?”

I don’t completely know why, but that question through me for a loop.  Maybe it’s because his question was a little trippy since he was asking for help on how to ask for help. I think it’s more, though, that I am not good at asking for help and never really thought about how or why I should be better at it.

I am not sure what impedes my ability to ask for help more.  My first guess is stubbornness or pride, but that seems too easy.  I think the main reason is because I do not think I deserve it.  I know how valuable time is in my life and therefore I do not think I am deserving of using other’s time.  I would like to think I put in enough good in the world to ask for a little back from time to time, but I cannot stand putting that to the test.

To try and give you some more ideas of how to get better at asking for help I posed the same question on Facebook, and here is what some of my wise friends said:

How do you get better at asking for help?

Kristen Hadeed: “Remove all fear of the answer being “no!”
Marc Sauvé: “Understanding and accepting you are worth helping.”
Hillary Reeves: “Help others more. When you know what it feels like to dole out help, it feels less scary to ask for it from others.”
Mary Reed: “I had to change my perception of “asking for help” to “allowing other people in on the adventure.” When I realized that I loved helping people do interesting things, and I was happy to “help,” I finally made the connection that I had to allow people that same opportunity.”
Jennifer Mullan: “Let close peeps know that you struggle with this. Ask them to gently hold you accountable when you are over-doing and under- asking. AND make a note to ask once a week for something. Remind yourself that strong also means vulnerable. This has helped me immensely.”
Samuel Sanker: “The thing that first helped me get past my own personal misgivings about this was when I realized people have been helping me all my life without my having to ask them. That implies that people are willing to help other people without having to be asked.”

I hope some of their words resonated for you as they did for me.  I encourage you to work on getting better at asking for help because when you need it the most you’ll be glad you developed that skill.

Credit // Author: James Robilotta

James Robilotta delivers a thought-provoking message of authenticity and personal responsibility to help students get to know themselves and share their own stories.

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