From the time we are born, people help us. In ideal situations, our mothers and fathers feed us, protect us, love and care for us, doing everything needed to ensure our survival. As we grow, we take on more and more of these tasks, but still, we are helped: up the stairs, learning how to read, tying our shoes, preparing our food, learning right from wrong.
We master the tasks of learning to read, and write, and run, and think; but still with the help of others in an ever-widening circle. Teachers, coaches, aunts, grandparents, siblings and friends.
We move into the age where we begin to be able to help others, even if in very small ways: carrying our plate to the sink, taking the hand of a younger sibling; putting away toys and maybe helping to fill lunch bags and empty laundry baskets.
Soon, we are in a place in life where it is expected that we will help others; service hours in school, perhaps becoming parents ourselves, caring for aging parents, committees at work, coaching our kids sports teams, school volunteer hours, and charity fundraising.
We spend our whole life on this pendulum of helping; moving from being in constant need of help to perhaps, for some of us, constant care of others.
There are examples all around us, of how we help each other on a daily basis: watching our friend’s kids, listening to someone in pain, donating blood, holding a door open for another, sitting with a sick friend, remembering a birthday or making dinner for a family in crisis.
We all help, in some form or fashion, but what surprises me is the question: do we really feel comfortable asking for help? Is there something we have learned along the way, a little voice inside that says we should be able to take care of things on our own?
If so, where do we learn to forget to ask for help, or that we somehow shouldn’t, cant? How do we get to a place where we feel as if we could perhaps be a burden on others simply by saying, “I need some help.” Or maybe for some, it’s a fear of needing someone else.
It can be my tendency, and I know others who say, “Oh I don’t want to be a burden on others, I don’t want to impose” I find it curious how as beings who would not survive without help, and in turn nurture our young giving them all the help we can, that somehow, for at least some of us, we can get to a place where asking for help, perhaps even needing help doesn’t always come easily.
It’s known in child development theory that healthy self esteem among kids of all ages comes from the sense and the knowledge that they are valued, that they have something to contribute, provide, that no one else can. They are needed. Perhaps we might think about asking for help as a way of showing others that we see their unique value, that we see what they can contribute and that they are needed?
What do you think are reasons behind why it may be hard for some people to ask for help? What about you?