The sermon at church yesterday focused on the 3 Wise Men … and how even they had to ask for directions when they lost track of the North Star (insert joke about the husband not stopping to ask for directions here). Surely, if Wise Men can ask for help, we can too.
Why is asking for help a hard thing to do? It may be a blow to our ego, or embarrassing to admit we don’t know everything. We may not want to impose on someone, or feel indebted to them, needing to return a favor. We may not realize we need help, or think we can solve our problem alone. Our culture promotes self-reliance. While we joke that men don’t ask for directions, women are known to avoid asking for help when they need it. Life coach M. Nora Klaver, author of Mayday! Asking for Help in Times of Need writes, “Being on the receiving end of a helping hand seems harder for women because we’re raised to be caregivers … Asking for care ourselves feels like a personal failure.”
And yet, a series of studies show that people tend to underestimate how likely others are to help them in a time of need. The study concludes that “The ‘open-door’ policy is basically ineffective unless people are actively encouraged to use it.”
While I am independent and I love to solve problems on my own, I know when I am in over my head. I also know the great feeling I get when I have helped someone. Did you know that the act of giving/helping can stimulate the horomone oxytocin (the “love molecule”), which makes us further increase empathy and compassion towards others? Being part of different communities – neighborhood, church, school, gym or business – connects us to others and opens up opportunities to both seek and offer assistance, advice and knowledge.
What are some of the benefits of asking for help?
- We get the help we need, our problem is solved.
- Asking for help gives someone the opportunity to be helpful – which is a good feeling. According to Lori Corcuera, “When you ask for support, you allow others to experience the happiness that comes from giving.”
- Admitting we are not perfect makes us approachable and human, and can strengthen our relationships with others.
- Asking for help can be an opportunity to learn something new.
- It means we know our limits of what we can and can’t handle on our own.
- Receiving help gives us an appreciation for a helping hand, and can promote a culture of generosity.
The more you ask for and offer help, the easier it is to continue this practice. The more help you receive, the more you will know that value of “paying it forward.” Asking for help makes you wise.