Don’t Ask For Help Very Often?

Have You Ever Thought About What Might Be Stopping You?

As much as we all want to see ourselves as fully independent, in control, and able to take care of everything ourselves, the reality is we need other people.

 We’re not a Clint Eastwood type who can take on a town full of bad guys by ourselves. The idea that we should be totally independent and never need help from anyone is a distortion that causes many people to suffer, especially men.

As men, we get this message louder and more consistently than women – you must be tough, you must handle things, you must not be dependent or “needy”, and you must do all of this without complaining or “whining” about it to anyone. Just keep a stiff upper lip and handle things.

As men we are often taught that we have failed if we need help with something.

The result of this message is it can be difficult to admit we’re struggling with something, and even more difficult to ask for help. While the “I’ll do it myself” approach does not quite work, the alternative is to feel like we are failures, which is not much better.

As a result, many men will do their best to look like they’re handling everything fine on the outside, while on the inside they feel anxious, exhausted, or insecure.

The “I’ve got it all together” front might work at work with clients or people you spend small amounts of time with. They might be there for their own needs and might not even be paying much attention to you. But when it comes to your intimate relationship, or time with friends, the facade can take a major toll on your ability to connect.

What happens when you’re not “fine”? Do you share this with your partner, or do you keep up the act?

When we feel afraid to reveal how we’re really doing, the result is a confusing mask of mixed messages. We say we’re fine, but our voice is terse and we don’t share as freely or openly. Our body is tense and our nonverbal communication is screaming that we’re not feeling “just fine.”

What stops us from asking for help? Whether it’s an emotional challenge – feeling anxious, down, or overwhelmed – or a challenge in your work or relationship, what might be stopping you from asking for help?

Fear of looking weak – Most men, and many women as well, have learned that admitting we don’t know something or cannot handle something by ourselves indicates some sort of personal inadequacy or “weakness.”

If I’m overwhelmed by a feeling and I need to talk about it without someone else, then this shows I’m not strong enough to handle it on my own. Similarly, if I’m feeling unable to complete a task at work because it’s too much labor or I don’t know how to do it, then I’m not strong enough to just “get the job done.”

Fear of being seen as “dependent” – A second major block to asking for help is because receiving help for many is equated with being dependent. Dependent has gotten a bad rap in our society, even though every single one of us starts that way, exists in some sort of dependence on a daily basis for our entire lives, and then ends our life by being dependent on others to care for us.

Despite this fact, or perhaps because of it, our society abhors dependence and any sort of “neediness.” This is just further conditioning that denies what it actually means to be a human and fills our minds with endless conditions of worth.

It’s our task to learn how to acknowledge when we need help, to ask for it, and then learn to receive it.

We must break free from the life-restricting and limiting ideas that demand we be supermen who are above needing help from our fellow humans. While this idea might be a societal standard, it doesn’t lead to healthy relationships with others or a healthy relationship with yourself.

To learn more about how to ask for help, stay tuned for the next blog post!

Dr. Aziz