Little ways to make asking for help just a little easier
Every day, all day, I ask for help. So you’d think I’d be totally comfortable with it by now. Nope! Not even close. Asking for help always puts you in a vulnerable position and even if everything goes perfectly, it can still feel a little awkward or embarrassing. It shouldn’t, but I’d be lying if I said it never did.
So I totally understand when I hear people say they hate to ask for help. Or why they avoid it at all costs. That’s the real bummer of it all. Because while I don’t exactly love having to ask people to do things for me 20 times a day, I’m not going to let myself sit around feeling ashamed for doing what I need to get by. And you shouldn’t either! Needing or accepting help doesn’t make you a burden or less than. Plus, it’s far better to ask for help than to hurt yourself trying to force yourself to do things on your own.
It’s something you get used to over time, and it might not ever be fun, but here’s a few things that can hopefully make it go a little easier.
Figure out the people you’re comfortable asking
Sometimes you’ll just have to grab the first person you see, and in those cases you really don’t have much choice. You just gotta do what you gotta do. But for the times when you’ve got a few people to choose from and a couple minutes at least, it can help to to think about who you’re most comfortable with.
A lot of times, I prefer people older than me. Mostly because I feel like they already have an automatic sense that they need to help and protect me, so they’re never surprised when I ask. 99% of the time I resent that, but when I’m in a pinch and I need someone fast, I’ll go along with it. My priority is usually getting what I need as quickly and quietly as I can.
But I know a lot of people who prefer people close to them in range or the same gender. In all fairness, it can really vary depending on where you are and what you’re asking, too. My point is, panicking and just grabbing the first person you come to isn’t always the best way to go. Accepting help can be hard enough as it is, so once you figure out who you get along with best in these situations, it’s not quite as hard to ask.
Be friendly and polite, but also keep it casual
Don’t make the situation bigger than it is. Most of the time we’re asking for small things, opening doors, grabbing things off a shelf, carrying something, etc. But when you feel bad asking, it’s real easy to build it up in your head until it feels like you’re asking for their undying loyalty until the end of time.
Remind yourself to ease up on the guilt. If you tense up and apologize 50 times, it will only make everyone involved feel awkward. No one knows how to proceed in that moment, I’ve got decades of experiences to back me up. If you’re asking someone, they have the option to say no. So trust that they’re okay to help you and accept it when they say yes.
Show your appreciation without talking down about yourself
It’s really easy to start in with the self deprecating humor when someone is helping you. If you’re feeling guilty or maybe embarrassed, it’s not easy to start a conversation, too. But just like no one wants you to continually apologize needlessly, no one really wants you to start talking down about yourself. It puts them in a weird state of not knowing the right thing to say but feeling like they need to reassure you. But also… it’s just going to make YOU feel even worse.
I know that when you’re taking up someone else’s time you might feel like a hassle, but it helps to be aware of things that might be making you feel so crappy. Things like anxiety, depression, internalized ableism, etc can amplify a small task and make it feel like this huge, difficult thing. So, the answer isn’t to just not ask, but to confront whatever it is that makes you feel like you can’t.
Be clear with what you need
In an effort to get it over with as fast as possible, I’ll sometimes rush through my explanations of what I need. But every single time I’ve ever been asked to do something for anyone in any context, the more instruction I get, the better I feel. You’re not being ‘bossy’ just because you’re teaching someone how to help you, and if you don’t, you’re only going to make it way harder than it needs to be. They might even end up having to redo everything, or you might end up hurt or in pain for the rest of the day. Take a second to slow down and just use your words. It’ll be better for everyone involved in the end.
I’m all for doing things on your own when you can, but there’s absolutely nothing wrong with admitting that you need some help. It doesn’t make you weak, or lazy, or selfish, or any of the terrible things you’ve been telling yourself.