Is There Shame in Asking For Help?

What is it about asking for help that keeps people from doing it? From the time we were little kids, we’ve tried to assert our independence by refusing to ask for help, or by rejecting it when it’s offered. We’ve all probably observed toddlers who are trying to do something that they really don’t have the skills to do yet, but they are determined to do.

For example, a 3-year old little girl has watched Mom pour her a glass of juice numerous times. So now, when she wants more juice, she decides to do it herself. She gets up on her little step stool, opens the refrigerator, and pulls out the juice container from the side door. That was easier than she thought!  So now she toddles over to her little table, grabs her plastic cup, takes the lid off the container of juice and is getting ready to pour. Fortunately, Mom walks back into the room just in time to thwart what is sure to be a big mess. Mom hurries over and tries to take the container and pour the juice, but is met with a pouting, “No! I do it myself!”

As we grew into adults, we have still sometimes found ourselves reluctant to ask for help. I’ve heard countless stories and personally witnessed many incidents where the refusal to ask for help has met with disastrous results. I’m sure that millions of hours have been spent disassembling and reassembling furniture and equipment, driving around aimlessly, returning merchandise, and re-taking college classes—all because of the refusal to read the instructions, ask for directions, ask someone else’s opinion, or use tutoring services. What a waste of valuable time!

Why does this happen? I believe that pride and shame play a big factor. We want to prove to others that we can figure things out by ourselves; that we’ve got it all under control, so we struggle through. But, at what cost?

It also ties back to fear. The fear that others will think we’re incompetent. The fear that our credibility or leadership abilities will be called into question. The fear that others will think we’re weak and we’ll be rejected or taken advantage of. This could possibly happen, but we’ve got to place more priority on doing a job well rather than keeping our egos intact and struggling through. This means, it’s okay to ask for help. All the great ones clearly understand this truth and can move forward toward their goals and dreams.

It’s true that accomplishing things through our own effort feels great. By no means am I saying you shouldn’t try to achieve as much as you can on your own. Just remember to keep a balance. Assistance is available, and asking for it can help you use your time more effectively. You don’t have to know how to do everything. You just need to know where to go when you encounter obstacles that are beyond your capabilities. Whether it’s doing your own taxes, running your own business, or cleaning your house—when you need help, ask for it. A scripture in the bible says, “You have not because you ask not”.


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