How hard is it for you to ask for help? Are you willing to ask for professional help? Today, I want to look at asking for help from two angles: first, the need for all of us to be willing to ask for help day to day and secondly, the willingness to ask for professional help for our mental health.
Being OK with Asking for Help
As a woman who has prided herself on doing a lot on my own, I realize the fallacy of that goal. We do our best work when we pull in the strengths of others. Why then do we insist on going it alone to prove something to ourselves or others?
My theory is that society in general forces women to take greater measures to prove that we can do things all by ourselves to show we are capable or up to the task. We don’t ask for help to prove we are strong and good enough.
The contradictory element, of course, is that we also spend a lot of time talking about self-care to address the stress of doing it all! Instead, it would be far better if we accepted that we needed help and society in general focused on caring for others.
Why Don’t We Ask for Help?
We Don’t Want to Be Seen as Weak
I know for many, it may still feel that if we ask for help, it makes us appear weak or incapable of doing our job. You might be like me - I felt like I had worked so hard to get promoted into leadership roles that if I admitted I couldn’t do it all by myself, I would lose my job! Asking for help when you need it is actually credibility building because you are then trusting others to step up and help out.
This is a trap that so many of us fall into. To be perfect and the exact way we envision it, we must do it ourselves. Remember - perfection is impossible. Let’s continue working on being okay with “okay."
Not Letting Go or Delegating
Have you ever thought that if you didn’t do all of your “responsibilities,” your value would decrease? By not letting go of tasks or responsibilities that others can easily do, we are not only hurting ourselves by adding stress, we are also preventing those around us from rising through the growth they would receive by taking on that role or responsibility.
I’m speaking to you if you are a parent of a teen that still does not make their own bed or do their laundry. I’m speaking to you if you’re a leader and your calendar is so full of meetings that you can’t get the other “work” started until after everyone else has ended their day. Look at the home chore list and the things in your work calendar – start letting go and delegating!
We Love Reinventing the Wheel
Clearly, this is not the case. Who likes to start from scratch? I certainly don’t and I’m constantly reminding myself that I most likely have done something similar before when I sit down to write a blog or look for resources to support something I’m writing or speaking about.
Resist reinventing the wheel, because if you haven’t done it before, more than likely you know someone who has and can maybe even help you by taking it off your plate all together or at least share enough to get you started and save you a ton of time.
I know personally that I’ve played both sides of this issue. I don’t ask for help because of the reasons covered above and then I have also been resentful that I had to do all the work. We need to get over ourselves and ask. If we don’t ask – guess what? We don’t get help. We can’t blame others for not helping if we don’t ask.
To be candid, I’m writing this blog post to myself as much as I am sharing this with you. In many facets of my life – work, personal and in volunteer roles – I’m asked if I need help and my immediate response is always, “No, I’ve got it,” or something along those lines. I need to pump the brakes and think before I decline help. I want you to consider doing so, as well.
Seeking Professional Help for Mental Health
We have recognized this month is Mental Health Awareness month in our previous blogs. I’ve seen many groups and organizations steer efforts around this focus on mental health. For too long, seeking professional help to improve mental health has held a stigma.
The environment today is so much more likely to create a need for resources in this area. No matter your personal beliefs on the cause of the increased mental health issues we see played out on the news, social media, or in our neighborhoods, we need to act.
The first action we can take is becoming more aware of the resources available to each of us. If you’re employed by a larger employer, you most likely have resources your employer provides through an Employee Assistance Program. Leverage these resources to get professional help. Spend some time investigating what you already have at your fingertips.
Practicing my efforts on not reinventing the wheel, I found an already well-designed list of Mental Health Resources. Peruse the listing to determine if you or someone you know may benefit.
Incorporate a practice of emotional self-awareness to help you determine if you need professional help. Work on naming your emotions and identifying how you feel throughout the day. Leverage the guidance we’ve provided in our past blog on How to Build Emotional Self-Awareness.
There have been seasons in my life when I’ve needed professional help. I encourage you to actively pursue help if you have noticed a change in how you’re feeling, have had a major change in your life, feel you have limited control over your environment, or have lost someone close to you.
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