Are you doing it alone when you don’t have to be, or dealing with someone who is? Here are 7 reasons we won’t ask for help.
Wedding planning is a crazy time. It’s exciting, it’s confronting, it’s encouraging, it’s challenging, it’s happy, and it’s up and down. Or at least those have definitely been my experiences with it. The death of individualistic living and the birth of something completely new. My poor utilitarian mancave of a house will never be the same.
PS. That’s actually a really good thing, I can only imagine the thoughts people have kept to themselves over the years when they’ve come over!
I remember some advice that’s been passed on to other people during their engagement and also recently repeated to me – “don’t be afraid to ask for help”. And how awesome it has been to ask for help and to get it.
It’s made me ponder why so many of us won’t ask for help, in any area of life, really. Some of us would rather die than accept a hand up or a handout. What an extreme attitude to life.
But where does it come from? And why is it that you or the person you care about won’t ask for help? Here are 7 reasons why.
1. Because we don’t want to out someone else’s behaviour
The #MeToo movement was so significant on your world’s culture that our current landscape that it’s fallout is still rolling out. And rightly so.
I wrote a blog on this topic myself where I recalled a shocking testimony of sexual abuse whereby a woman I had known described in detail her multiple brushes with some truly evil men on her Facebook page. After she had posted it, the comment section lit up, and one comment that broke my heart read: “I wish you had told me. Love, Dad”.
There are so many reasons why we keep things, great and small, to ourselves. And one that seems to be increasingly common is not wanting to say anything that would affect someone’s public or private image. If you’re in a compromising or destructive situation, the expectation from somewhere (probably just within ourselves) that we have to suffer in silence.
But you know, we actually really need to get better at outing people when they are destructive and especially if you’re in danger.
We mean well, but we don’t act well in hiding the truth. And yes, we don’t want to necessarily be broadcasting to the world someone’s wrongdoings and absolutely destroying someone’s name for all eternity. And we may not really want to destroy this person for what they’re doing, either. But we do need to at least be willing to find some right people to talk to about things and to ask for help when we need it.
It may not even be an extreme action. It may not even be something that someone else is doing wrong. It might just be your response to what they’re doing or have done. In your adult years, it’s important that you can look at life realistically and objectively for what has happened and what is happening, rather than just what someone wishes was happening. But if you’re struggling to process it alone, the good news is you don’t have to. Asking for help doesn’t make you a gossip or a snitch, it makes you human and healthy.
NB. If you’re in danger, call your local police or crisis care. It is abhorrent and wrong for you to stay somewhere where you or your children aren’t safe.
2. Because we feel incompetent if we can’t do it alone
My fiance is an avid reader and has recently been re-reading an older book on marriage in preparation for our new life together. Written from a female perspective, it attempts to explain the differences between men and women. One question that some researchers in the book asked men was, “If you could only either be unloved and successful, or inadequate and loved, which one would you be?”. A lot of women said the second, and a lot of men picked the first. The point or goal of the study was to confirm their theories on the need for men to feel competent over feeling loved.
While their findings turned out to show that men were primarily motivated to avoid feelings of inadequacy (as a man I can probably relate to that, also), it’s true in life no matter who you are that that feeling of failure is one of the worst sensations that one can experience.
For many of us, our gauge for whether or not we have been successful was how much help we needed to ask for. If we made it on our own, what a battler, what a trooper, what a champ, you did it. If we had to ask for help along the way, we’ve failed.
I’m not sure where we got our metrics for success here, but this is absolutely wrong.
We all need people to be successful in life. In fact, I would argue that doing life alone makes you more of a failure than anything else. We need friends, family, mentors, colleagues, and people we can help. Watch a person who has lost or cut off any of those groups of people in their life and watch them struggle. He who isolates himself rages against all sound judgment, my friends.
3. Because we have only asked people who don’t have the willingness or ability to help
One of the greatest disappointments in life is finding out that people mean well, but often lack the ability to back up their intentions. Sure, they say they want to be there for you, but are they?
Many people refuse to move past their own problems long enough to truly be able to help you through yours. And you may be getting endlessly frustrated waiting for someone to back up what they say. This can be very true if it’s a parent, family member, or close long term friend who you thought would be there for you, but they just can’t.
Or worse – they won’t.
Whatever the case is, we have to learn to accept the truth of someone’s ability and willingness to be there in life. I know you wish they would be there. I know you wish they’d listen to you, call you, visit you.
But they won’t. For whatever reason. And you’ll break your own heart spending your life waiting.
There are people I’ve asked to come and visit me or meet me somewhere. Time and time again I’d ask, but they just aren’t able. Or willing. There are people I’ve wanted to stay friends with. People I’ve enjoyed close fellowship with. And they are no longer either able or willing to continue the relationship. And I’ve had to learn to accept that, and also to live in the reality of something else.
There are competent people out there. And willing people. People with open lives and open hearts. Some amazingly competent and reliable people. I find that the way a person treats one thing is the way they treat everything. So when I find someone who is devoted in their work and consistent in their attendance, they instantly qualify for someone I want to get closer to.
Why? Because if they do that for their work and their commitments, they’ll do it for me, too. I am yet to be disappointed in using this approach to making connections.
Conversely, when someone is erratic, double minded, scattered and unfocused in life, they really can’t be trusted to turn up and be faithful. I’m yet to have this proven wrong to me, also.
Even the view of Scripture is exactly this – faithful in little, faithful in much, and those who can’t be faithful in anything eventually lose what they do have. As they should.
Instead of your drugged out uncle, that random Internet forum or your non-committal “friend”, why not try a pastor, a reliable leader, a proven business mentor, a professional counsellor, or your local GP?
Probably because of number 4.
4. Because we don’t really want to change
A number of years ago, I learnt of an exploitation that people were using to stay in the Australian welfare system. In fact, one person I was hearing was boasting about how easy it was. Essentially to stay on welfare, you had to prove that you were applying for work by showing the number of jobs you’d applied for that week. And so this person was applying alright – but as a person with no vast business acumen, they were applying for CEO and HR Manager and Regional Director positions. These were positions they had no qualifications for but continually applying this way meant they could satisfy the requirement without losing their welfare payment or having to go to a single interview and pursue employment properly.
A lot of us approach change the same way. If we truly got the help we needed, we would lose our current lifestyle, our current habits, our excuses, our reasons why we aren’t further ahead.
It’s because we don’t really want to be.
We don’t want to be told what we need to hear. We don’t like being wrong. We don’t like being corrected. It’s embarrassing, challenging, life changing. Anything to keep the status quo.
You might be this person. You might be dealing with this person. I would describe this behaviour as a form of unrepentance. You’re trying, but not really. They’re apologising, but their actions show they aren’t sorry.
You and I know that if we ask certain people, we are going to get exactly the right answer. The counsellor or doctor will prescribe the right program, the wise friend will definitely say the right thing, the leader will certainly know how to assess your situation and call you out on what you can do better.
But if you don’t want to hear it, you won’t ask them.
5. Because we don’t want to feel judged
Ah yes. Humanity’s favourite sentence, and also the one we usually associate with stubborn teenagers – “don’t judge me”. We don’t like anyone judging or assessing our life decisions. We don’t want to be made to feel bad for the choices we’ve made, are making, or are thinking of making. It’s an attitude few actually grow out of.
And so, rather than facing that feeling of being judged, we hide. We don’t ask anyone else to assist us on the journey because struggling in silence is better to us than feeling assessed or criticized unfairly.
The problem is though, that we may be making devastating and downright stupid decisions. We may be emotionally overloaded, our lives in crisis, our hearts lost, and our loved ones suffering, and we just preserve our sense of image and misguided dignity by staying quiet and leaving things as they are.
Being judged is actually a good thing. Being humble and teachable means you’ll only make better decisions as life goes on. Being open means the people around you are safe from your stupidity or selfishness. Conversely, ask how much the people who are closest to you really feel about your unwillingness to change.
6. Because we’ve stopped meeting people and making new friends
Life is seasonal. Friends are seasonal. The people who you went to kindergarten with are likely no longer in your life. How about from preschool? You used to see those kids 5 days a week. And from primary school? High school? University? Your last church? Your first sporting team? Remember how close everyone used to be?
The reality of life is that we lose touch with certain people who were only ever meant to be a season of our lives.
And so, many people find frustration as life goes on in that they feel like they have no one to talk to anymore. And this isn’t because they don’t see people every day – it’s usually because the people they used to talk to, they no longer talk to anymore, and they have stopped making new friends as they have gotten older.
Making new friends and deepening relationships can be hard for many people. A lot of us have invested so much time in a few key people that we don’t really want to have to go through that process of meeting someone, finding and building common ground, and setting regular times to see each other again.
And yet that is exactly what you need to do if you don’t want to die alone.
Sorry to be so morbid, but this is actually what happens to many people in our world today. They find someone, couple up, have some kids, lose their connections due to their own decisions or the decisions of the people they used to be friends with, and then their kids leave the nest. And now who is left in your life?
And more importantly, why is that the life you want?
A recent study shows it takes significant numbers of hours to “promote” people out of the acquaintance zone into the friend zone, and even more to promote them into being close friends (and even longer to promote them into the partner zone, wakka wakka). If you’re no longer making the time for that in your life, as people start to move on into the path they choose, for better or worse, you’re going to be left behind with no one to talk to. Building new connections has to be a weekly activity in life in order to maintain connection and have the support necessary to thrive in life.
7. Because we’re too proud
The root issue is the original sin, the original bad decision, the original and perpetuated mistake we all make and live in – pride.
It’s the idea that “I know better”. I can do it. I can take it. I can do whatever I want and nobody can be the boss of me.
This attitude can only produce destruction. Whether it’s instantaneous or occurs slowly over the period of a lifetime until your eventual demise and despair, pride will ruin you.
As it probably already has if you’re reading a post like this, looking for answers. It will isolate you, it will disconnect people from around you, and it will leave you sitting there thinking what on earth happened.
And the worst thing is, we think this blog is about someone else. No – it’s about the author and the reader both. It’s about the people you know. It’s about all of us. Pride lets us think that it’s always someone else. Are you sure it isn’t you?
Hey, reading something like this is a great first step. The Internet is awesome because it’s a non threatening, low impact way to find answers and explore avenues and topics. As are books, podcasts, movies and videos.
But I want you to take it one step further and talk to someone. Face to face. Not via email. Not over Messenger. Book a time. Sit down. Turn the TV off. Knee to knee. Tell them what’s going on, and ask for the help you need.
The longer you don’t, the more you live in turmoil and misdirection. The sooner you do, oh the freedom you’ll find. Imagine your life moving forward again. Imagine the broken pieces of your heart coming together. Imagine no longer being held down by your current situation and actually getting somewhere in life.
Talk to someone about the breakup. Tell someone you struggle to build relationships with men. Or women. Ask someone to give you a hand working through some stuff. Book the appointment. Get some help on your career. See the doctor. Start the process.
Lay down your pride. You’ve already let it steal so many years of the life you could have been enjoying this whole time.
In the words of one of my favourite songs – let it fade.
Why do you think we won’t ask for help? How do you deal with people who don’t?