What keeps us from asking for help when we need it? So many of us have learned we have to do everything ourselves – how did that happen? As humans, we hate to feel helpless and yet so many of us learned that we could only get what we needed from other people which can have us feel dependent and out of control. Maybe we were told that needing help from others makes us weak, vulnerable, or opens us up to attack. Many of us feel we shouldn’t need to ask for help and that we are not competent if we do so. Some of us that are highly sensitive feel that others should ‘know’ we need help. We tell ourselves we would help them if the tables were turned and don’t understand why they don’t reciprocate…we can certainly tell when others need it, why can’t they? Some of us learned that the help we got was not the help we wanted, yet we found ourselves saying yes to help that didn’t meet our needs. This led many of us to believe that the help we want will never be available and there is nothing we can do about it leaving us feeling that we have no viable choices for support.

As children, we were often frustrated by our caregivers, siblings, and peers in our attempt to get our physical, emotional or mental needs met, yet as adults, we have a choice. Where do we get the help we need? By becoming aware of our needs in the first place, then realizing we can take care of meeting those needs on our own or through the assistance of a variety of others. Many of us expect assistance from only certain people or not at all. When we do ask for help, we may feel like a burden, feel we are taking something away from another, or we say yes to help that really isn’t what we want or need.  As we begin to shift our perspective to see ourselves as the source of getting what we need, then we can ask others for assistance as part of our mechanism of taking care of ourselves, and say yes only to the help we really want.  Part of helping ourselves is becoming aware of and accepting what we are and are not able to do/give/be on our own. Regardless of what we learned in our early lives, there is no need to be able to do/give/be everything to ourselves or others. We were meant to be interdependent and co-create together by contributing our unique differences in our relationships and endeavors. The only expectation the universe has for us is to express our authentic selves, to give help to others when we feel inspired, and to receive what we need and want from others without conditions.

So, what to do? We can bring our attention to both our physical experience and our emotions several times a day to check in with our need for help. When our body or emotions are telling us that we feel overwhelmed, the task at hand is too much, we feel trapped, overly frustrated, or helpless, we are actually feeling our need for help arising inside.  When this happens, our first step is to consider how we can take care of ourselves in that moment.  This might mean slowing down or even backing off from our immediate plans to gain a new perspective on what is happening and what we need in the immediate situation. This can open us up to a variety of new possibilities for assistance. With new clarity and the confidence that we can recognize and take care of our own needs, it becomes easier to reach out to others without attachment to their response or outcome.  

When we learn we can always attend to our own needs in ways that work for us, we can relax about what help looks like and who it comes from. We can always say no to help that doesn’t feel good, others can always say no to what doesn’t feel good to them, and we can find another way or back off of our immediate plan or timeline. Perhaps the universe has a better plan or timeline that has not yet come into our awareness.

How will you attend to your own needs and wants today?