Friday, August 01, 2008

How To Ask For Help

I did an interview with writer Janene Mascerella for The Tyra Banks Show on How To Ask For Help.

Some of us find it easy to ask for help from others. But for many, asking for help is NOT an easy thing to do.

Do these myths keep you stuck?

Myth: It makes us look vulnerable.

Truth: Asking for help creates an atmosphere of empowerment. It communicates to others that, while you may not have the answers, you are willing to find them and make things better.

Myth: Holding things in and keeping personal issues under wraps keeps us secure.

Truth: In reality, not allowing yourself to be "known" keeps you socially isolated, and therefore, insecure. When you seek the counsel of others, you'll not only connect with them, but you'll also realize that you're not alone in your struggle.

Myth: It bother others. Truth: Doing it all can do you in. Being too self-sufficient can create stress levels that tip your physical, emotional and spiritual scales. Myth: Highly successful people never ask for help.

Truth: Actually, successful individuals will tell you that the key to success is knowing your strengths and weaknesses. Learning how to delegate, asking for help and letting others show you the way are part of the plan. Successful people are driven and motivated -- and when the going gets tough, the tough ask for help!

Myth: I am a giver. I don't like when others help me.

Truth: Get over it. With practice, you'll learn to be comfortable when others help you. And before long, you'll come to realize that you deserve a helping hand every now and then.


Have realistic expectations for the kind of help you are seeking

Express your needs simply and clearly

Let others know you are there to help them as well

Praise your pals for their assistance and pat yourself for asking for help



Tery Lynne said...

The first thing I thought of was "Men" not asking for directions.

As a woman, I always ask for help. I don't care what others think and if I need directions or whatever, If I see someone near me, I grab them :)

Bee said...

It *isn't* easy for me to ask for help. This is admittedly a pride obstacle for me but I'm consoled with the thought that I am able to turn it around and help others with my newfound knowledge or position.

The saying goes, "It's not what you know, it's who you know."

it should be added..."it's who you know and ask." :)

Great post, Deb.

Ian Lidster said...

Brilliant, Deb. Much-needed advice for all of us -- like me, for example. Too often I have eschewed help from friends, family or professionals for fear of appearing weak or needy. Then, I would permit things to reach crisis stage before acting.
Lives can actually be lost, as you know, due to people's self-consciousness in this regard.

Bar L. said...

Excellent!!!! This is really good, I hope a lot of people that have trouble asking for help read it and are encouraged, I know I was.

Tracy said...

Wonderful advice as usual Deb. Thank you for sharing, and Congrats on the show with Tyra banks! Hugs

shrink on the couch said...

"It bothers others" bingo. I tend to replace this with, "People often like the opportunity to be of help. It's a cycle of give and take. In order for others to feel comfortable asking of me, I need to ask of them" Also, I'm not always bothering, I'm actually providing them with an opportunity to feel closer.

I need a LOT of rebuttals. Otherwise I don't ask. And you're right. It does cause stress which could lead to physical decline.

Great post.

Sonnie-Dee said...

I think it is very hard to ask for help when you have had to learn to look after yourself because those who were supposed to didn't. I very rarely ask for help. I got told off last year by a good friend of mine for not calling her earlier when I was very sick. I was barely able to lift my head from the bed when I finally called her and she came and organised the shopping for me and cleaning and taking me to the dr and hospital.

east village idiot said...

where were you before I went on self attack in my last yoga class!!? Great advice. Asking for help is so important and I'm terrible at it.

traci said...

It's not that I don't ask for help. It's more like I often don't know how to ask for help...or even that I need it. Weird but true.

Anonymous said...

Very insightful and creative perspectives. It's funny how faulty assumptions can so easily imbalance our lives, and how hard it is to really pay attention to them. Thanks - some stuff in there has really got me thinking.

Anonymous said...

Once again I am the Queen of "NO HELP WANTED"..Although there are many times I NEED the help I prefer not to ask due to the debilatating way it makes me feel after the help is given. There are so many ways I beat myself up after the few times I have asked for help in different situations that I do not dare go there again. SO yes, being the total self sufficient queen kills all those physical,emotional and spiratual scales you talk about, BUT noted that change is due in this area as well.Its force of habit that has molded me and I sometimes wonder if I will ever be able to change them.(habits)I was raised with the saying, "you don't give to recieve" so I give but hardly ever recieve. HELP!!(see i can ask people I don't know,lol) Another great post Deb!

'Tart said...

I thought this was a great post, Dr. Deb. Once again, it's true, helpful and timely.

I was needing this kind of counseling recently, when I took cues from someone that I should not ask for help in my own life. That didn't last long because I needed to discuss my issues with someone and I did so, which relieved the stress I was feeling.

I appreciate this post on dismissing myths about asking for help, it really is helpful.

ellesu said...

Much appreciated info. Especially for my area of the country -- still. Thanks!

Kahless said...

You can ask for help once or twice, but if it is more than that, dont you think people get fed up? (i dont but I have a lot of patience.)

CrackerLilo said...

I'm all-girl, even if I can fix things around the house, and I *suck* at asking for and accepting help. People think I'm kidding when I say that calling an actual professional plumber or IT person is "like admitting defeat." I used to suck worse at it. Funny--Teresa Lynne thought the "I can do it myself" gender was male, but I tend to assume it's female. Probably because my mother always feels that it's a personal affront to her to be offered help, too. And my L'Ailee...well, she'll accept help from me and a few very close friends now, but don't dare assume that someone who's only 4'11" might have a problem reaching something on a high shelf in the store! (And at 5'2", I can't give that help anyway.)

I finally asked my therapist for advice and took it to heart because my fear of looking incompetent, ironically enough, was beginning to harm me at work. People were thinking I had a real chip on my shoulder, and I guess I did. I get read as slow sometimes just because I have a Southern accent, and I have issues because I am learning-disabled and felt really stupid growing up. I blogged my turning point about that here, a couple years ago.

My father was a mechanic. Sometimes guys would take their cars to him and act like they were Real Car Experts. Of course, they would get in the way and make fools of themselves. Daddy would say something like, "It's real nice of you to take the car to me and give me your money when it looks like you can fix it all by yourself." I remember him when I start getting angry and defensive about needing help. It works, some.

Admin said...

love it! awesome interview!

Midwife with a Knife said...

Hm... I'm a little conflicted about this post. On one hand (especially in medical training), I want my residents (especially the junior ones) to ask for help early and often if they're at all unsure.

On the other hand, I want the senior residents to not need so much help, because they're getting close to not having help available.

So, although I guess it's important to ask for help if you need it, continuing to grow should leave you needing less and less help.

The Lone Beader® said...

I ask for help all the time at work cuz I'm sure not doing it by myself!

Anonymous said...

Asking for help isnt easy when youve been scolded for not being able to do things. Being dyslexic, I have been teased and so Im very gun shy about asking for help for any reason. Im sure Im not the only one out there that feels like that.

Wanda's Wings said...

If I'm lost I can ask for directions, but on many other things I find it very difficult to ask for help.

jenji said...

How do I say this:

Oh right, I suck at asking for help.

However, over the past couple of years I have made an concerted effort to do so more often and find that it gets a bit easier with practice.

In fact, just last weekend a friend of mine cut the lawn when I wasn't feeling at all well enough to do so myself.

A fantastic support system makes asking for help all the more easy.

great post.

Garth Mintun said...

Great article on "How to ask for Help". I believe men have the most difficult time asking for help because of our socialization. As a psychotherapist working with men and doing therapy groups with men, I find "asking for help" from others in the group is a prerequisite for getting help from the group and unlearning how men have be socialized to be alone. Again, thanks for the wonderful blog!

Marie said...

Everybody needs a helping hand every now and again. We can't do everything by ourselves ALL the time. Good post.

Dr. Deb said...

Hey Everyone,

I had trouble with logging onto my own blog this weekend. Anyone else? Kept saying my blog was spam. SPAM? As if.

Anyway, I'm gonna do a global shout out in the comments here because I fear I won't be able to log on again!!

Thanks to you all as always for you great comments and thoughts.


Anonymous said...

Deb, your blog is definitely NOT spam! I've seen on other blogs that it's been a problem with Blogger during the weekend, so here's hoping that Blogger fixes the problem!


Anonymous said...

Here's the word from Blogger, Deb. I don't know when they posted the update but, hopefully, you should be fine now.


Blogger Status
Friday, August 01, 2008

Some blogs have been mistakenly marked as spam. Affected users are not able to post to their blog and received an email indicating Blogger classified their blog as spam. We are actively working to correct the issue.

Update: We have restored all blogs that were mistakenly marked as spam due to Friday's bug. If you are still unable to post to your blog, you can request a review by clicking Request Unlock Review on your Dashboard.

Dr. Deb said...


Wow, thanks for the update. Seems that everything is a-okay in the blogworld again.


HP said...

A great post, Deb. So many of us subscribe to those myths. Reframing them is excellent.

United We Lay said...

When will it Air?

Dr. Deb said...

Dear HP,
I don't have trouble asking for help. Sometimes I have trouble recognizing I NEED help. That'll be a good upcoming post!

Dear United,
It is on her website. It is a bit confusing. She has a Tyrashow website - but not everything on her website is on her show. Maybe one day..... ;)

sbwrites said...

A very important post. I believe that learning to ask for help, even when people didn't come through for me, was a huge turning point in my wellness quest.

In the best cases, I got what I needed. In the worst cases, I was disappointed. But it reminded me that I'm not a quitter even when I wasn't successful. And I learned to keep asking for information and help until I was successful. And so I was.

Anonymous said...

I agree that we all need to ask for help. I know some people who refused to ask for help while raising their children and everything they tried to accomplish was either frustrating, too stressful, or would come crashing down. They had a wonderful and supportive family who was always there, even though they had their own lives, to help them raise their children. The grandmother and the aunt loved them and would do anything for them; however, the parents refused to ask for help, even in the most stressful cases.

The point: too much pride will hurt you. No one knows everything, even if they do have a Ph.D. As a student, I have to ask for help all the time, and my professors don't think any less of me, in fact, they may even respect me more for showing that I am human and am looking for someone who is more experienced than me to learn from!

We have all needed that parent or caregiver who helps us to sturdy ourselves on a bike so that we can ride off on our own. The same is true when asking for help.

Food for thought!

Anonymous said...

I have an eating disorder, I need help. I spent entirely too long in Iraq, I need help. I just need help and it needs to be ok, that's all, it just needs to be ok. Thanks for your post.

Anonymous said...

Great topic! me, asking for help means permanent defeat. I know it's wrong, but it has been my main weakness since gr. 5-6 or even earlier. I am extroverted, which is bizarrely combined with having always drawn back into myself. After trying to solve my own problems for so long, asking for help is now akin to giving up - not in the sense of abandoning a task - but perhaps more of an "ok, I submit to your superiority, and I am and always will be beneath you". It's the permanent humility of being beaten up - not in front of friends or family, but in front of myself, my own self-respect (and I sure don't need to beat myself anymore than I already have). Perhaps in my case, not asking for help is a backwards form of self-preservation - the last line of defence - and hence *very* difficult to give up. That's what asking for help has meant to me.
Strangely enough - not focusing, having no goals or strategic plans, and "giving up" at tasks are my other main drawbacks. In a way, I don't mind self-defeat...but defeat by others is a horrible thing.
(Thanks for letting me vent - voicing lets me take steps closer to solving things. Now - back to work...:)