8 Helpful Ways to Ask for Help When You Need It
“Asking for help is never a sign of weakness.
It’s one of the bravest things you can do.
And it can save your life.”
Everyone needs help and support once in a while, so it’s important to know how to ask for help. But, for many of us, asking for help feels like admitting we’re weak, lazy, and foolish.
Many of us were raised in cultures where individual strength is essential, independence signifies strength, and vulnerability or dependence on others means weakness. This has made us internalize the belief that asking for help — or needing it — means weakness.
However, the ability to ask for and receive help is a valuable life skill! Carrying a heavy burden without adequate resources or support can lead to burnout. In fact, research has shown that a lack of social support can be directly associated with poor mental and physical health.
The help you need might range from minor things like a word of advice or a ride somewhere, to weightier things like a loan or support for a mental health issue. Regardless of the challenge, seeking help from others can save time and effort and provide the solid emotional support that everyone needs.
So, why not learn how to ask for help better? Here are some steps to guide you.
Be direct; no hint dropping
The single biggest problem with communication is the illusion that it has taken place.
— George Bernard Shaw.
Imagine hissing, rubbing your forehead, and refusing to talk to anyone all day, then expecting everyone to somehow know that you want to be left alone because your head aches terribly. Is that possible? Of course not — telepathy doesn’t work that way.
Some people might notice you rubbing your forehead, but they’d be unable to help because they don’t know what’s happening. And if they have an idea, they might choose to not interfere or ask until you bring it up because they’re unsure or think you’d figure it out.
In essence, when you need help with something, it’s better to talk about it directly. If you know someone who can help you, a simple “I need help with ___” will set the grounds to receive the help you need.
Be selectively vulnerable
People who have been judged, misunderstood, or taken for granted in the past may find it hard to open up about themselves. This automatically makes asking for help a non-existent option because opening up requires vulnerability.
However, regardless of what has happened in the past, there will always be people who wouldn’t take your vulnerability for granted. So, as much as you need help, ask for help in the right places.
Don’t confide in someone who has a record of being a blabbermouth, a gossip, or generally tactless. Speak to people you perceive to be mature and genuinely concerned about you.
State your needs as precisely as possible
Have you ever used an ATM (Automated Teller Machine — a money dispensing machine)? When you enter your details into the machine, it’ll ask you how much you want to withdraw.
You can’t say, “maybe I need ___” or “let me think about how much I need, ATM, and I’ll get back to you.” Before you go to the ATM stand, you already know exactly how much you need.
In the same vein, when you need help, be specific. Narrow down on the details.
♥ Who: Who needs help? Is it just you? Are there other people involved? Be clear.
♥ What: What’s your specific need? Be straightforward.
♥ How: What exactly do you need your potential helper to do for you? Have you tried anything before? What challenges did you face? What were your shortcomings?
♥ Why: Why did you choose them to talk to? A referral, their expertise, or your trust in them?
♥ Where: In what exact areas do you need help? If there’s a physical location, tell them as well.
♥ When: When do you need help? Do you have a deadline? If you do, state it.
Narrowing down the details will give your potential helper a clearer picture of the assistance you need.
Make your request as personal as you can
Depending on the gravity of help you require, make sure you ask in a way that the person you’re asking can read the need in your tone, voice, or mannerisms. Be open, straightforward, and respectful.
Like, “I feel ___ because ___. I’ve been struggling with ____. Would you be willing to ____?”
Don’t speak in impersonal, general one-liners or a detached tone that can be misread as you taking your prospective helper for granted. Communicate your respect, what you’re dealing with, the help you think you need, how much you need it, and how much their help would mean to you.
Be open-minded; prepare for the worst
“Take the risk to ask for whatever you need and want.
If someone says no, you will not lose anything.
If someone says yes, you have a lot to gain.”
Don’t expect a positive response just because you’ve asked for help. Keep an open mind and understand that only two things can happen: you’d get what you need ASAP, or your request would be declined.
Now, don’t think that because your request for help was declined, your feelings are foolish or invalid. Your feelings are VALID and meaningful, but people can reject requests for numerous reasons — that have nothing to do with your asking.
Always give people the benefit of the doubt. And if you get a no, don’t take it too personally. Explore other options.
Ask for help, but don’t be a parasite
Remember that regardless of anyone’s love, concern, and willingness to help you, they also have needs of their own. So, don’t make it a habit to dump your problems on people every time. Be cautious, and don’t abuse your access to people, lest they see you as a nuisance.
For instance, if you need financial aid, don’t make it a habit to come by every day presenting one financial need or the other. Instead, you can ask for advice and tips on making money. It’s great to ask for help but do it wisely.
To compensate for the embarrassment and discomfort you feel when you ask for help, you may feel the urge to apologize. Relax. You don’t have to. An apology can sound weird and give your request an awkwardness that you can avoid. Own yourself and present your request respectfully with an open mind.
Acknowledge the help you received
Gratitude is key after you receive the help you need. Follow up constantly and send thoughtful messages or presents to acknowledge that you’ve received assistance.
For instance, “Hi, Tosin. Thank you for helping me connect with mytherapist.ng. My therapy sessions with Miss Ifeoma have been insightful. I’ve learned a lot, and I feel at peace with myself. You rock! ”
Also, if the help you received came with a deadline (a loan, for example), keep to the agreed deadline. If you have any reason to default, let your “helper” know beforehand. Don’t just keep quiet and make them regret helping you.
Asking for help doesn’t make you weak, stupid, or lazy. You’re a human being with needs; sometimes, you can’t meet them on your own. You need support from other people, and that’s perfectly fine!
If you have more questions about how to ask for help or struggle with your mental or psychological health, mytherapist.ng is readily available to provide all the resources you need to get better. Don’t hesitate to reach out to us.