Help. It’s such a small word, and yet it can have such a profound impact on our lives. How much of our lives have we depended on receiving help from others? For the first few years of our lives, we need help to do practically anything at all. Then, as we grow, we start learning how to do simple things on our own, but we’re still not shy about asking for help with anything we find too difficult. Once we become teenagers, we’re pretty sure we have a handle on this thing called “life,” but we still ask for a hand once in a while.
Then we become adults, and everything changes. Suddenly, we feel like we’re supposed to be able to deal with everything on our own. We’ve had a couple of decades of experience, so we’re supposed to be ready for anything life throws at us. Right?
Strange how it almost never seems to work out that way.
Most people, by and large, are perfectly willing to lend a helping hand whenever asked. We all know that everyone needs help once in a while. But it’s funny how, so oftentimes, the people who are the most willing to offer a helping hand to others can also be the same people who have the most difficulty asking for, or accepting, help themselves.
Why is that?
Are we too proud to ask for help? Are we afraid that if we ask someone for their help they’ll think we’re not strong enough, or smart enough, or skilled enough to do it on our own? Are we afraid they’ll laugh at us? Or talk about us behind our back, telling others how sad it was that we couldn’t do whatever it was on our own? When we’re young we don’t think twice about asking someone for help, but when we “grow up,” the idea of asking for help sometimes makes us pause.
When someone comes up to you with a legitimate—and I say “legitimate” because we all know those folks who just don’t want to put in any real effort and instead let someone else do all the work for them—request for help, do you think any less of them? Do you think they’re weak, or unintelligent, or helpless? Of course not. In fact, we often feel flattered that this person would look to us for help. We get a good feeling knowing they think enough of our abilities or our knowledge or wisdom to look to us for assistance or advice. So why should it be so hard for us to ask others for help? Even the Beatles knew that we “get by with a little help” from our friends.
Maybe we think that if we need help from someone else, that somehow makes us a failure. But that’s just not true. The simple fact is, we all need a helping hand once in a while. No one is an island, no matter what Simon and Garfunkel may say (look it up young’uns).
Now, no one is saying you shouldn’t at least try to accomplish whatever it is you’re trying to do. Or that we shouldn’t try to deal with whatever problem you’re facing. It’s all part of the learning and growing process. But when you come to the point where you’ve decided you just can’t do it on your own, when you feel like you’re just running into a brick wall over and over, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Don’t be too proud to ask for help. It doesn’t mean you’re weak, it means you’re human.
And I’ll tell you a secret: It takes more strength to ask for help than it does to give up or keep beating your head against the wall trying again and again on your own. So if you think you’re being strong by going it alone, you’ve got it backward. Asking for help requires you to admit that you need someone else. It requires a dose of humility. And that can be a lot harder than we think. But I guarantee you’ll get more growth out of being humble than you will by thinking you have to figure out everything on your own.
There’s no shame in asking for help. The real shame would be if you missed out on reaching your goal because fear or pride kept you from letting someone else help you get there.
I hope that helped.