How To Ask For Help


Asking for help is hard. Nobody likes to admit that they’re struggling, or don’t understand, or that they could maybe do with a bit of a helping hand. As a child, I recall spending entire lessons at school – which consequently felt like hours on end – confused and in need of assistance because I just wouldn’t ask for help.

As an adult, pride and anxiety and the refusal to rely on anyone but myself meant that I still just wouldn’t ask for help.

The thing is, sometimes you really need it. Whether it’s at work, at home, for mental or physical health, or just some lighthearted advice, there comes a point where you have to accept – and I hate to have to admit this – that you can’t do everything on your own.

Recognise you need help:

As I just mentioned, admitting you can’t do everything on your own is tough. Especially if you’re as stubborn as I am. The thing is, it’s better to realise it early on than get to the point where you feel as though you might be drowning a little bit and suddenly the thought of even asking for help seems impossible. Trust me, I know from experience.

And yes I know, again from experience, that some situations can make it harder to ask for help. In some cases, you can feel as though you’re frozen to your seat and can’t open your mouth. But I’m going to get to that part soon. Promise.

But for now, I’ll put it in a simple every day scenario. One time at work I had to move a lot of boxes on a trolley from one room to another. I was relatively new and didn’t want to bother anyone else, so I did it on my own. Except the boxes were really heavy, so I struggled to get them on the trolley in the first place. And then once they were on the trolley I struggled to push it, so it veered off in every direction but the right one. And then, as I tried to push the trolley into the lift, it got caught and all the boxes fell off. Do you see where I’m going with this long drawn out metaphor?

So please. Recognise you need help.

Find someone you trust:

Okay. So once you’ve decided that maybe you might need a bit of help, you probably need to find someone to offer said help.

Obviously, different situations are going to call for different ‘helpers’ and ‘someone you trust’ doesn’t always equate to ‘someone you’re close to’. In some cases, asking your best friend or your parents for help can be a little bit harder. In fact, these are hardly ever the people I go to first, and that’s okay. It doesn’t mean you don’t love them or value their opinion or want help from them in other ways.

It might be a work colleague who you know has the skills to help you out, or someone you know that’s been in a similar situation. It’s just important that you feel comfortable.

It doesn’t even need to be someone you know. We have the Internet now, people. And I’m not saying go out and pour your heart out to a total stranger, but engage with relevant Twitter communities, and make use of charities and resources that offer help and advice. It’s what they’re there for!

It doesn’t need to be face to face:

If you’re anything like me, and cry at the slightest mention of the dreaded ‘feelings’, then the thought of telling someone you’re not okay can seem a little daunting.

But you do not have to do it face to face. I find texts and email a great place to start. It gives you a chance to think through and even read back what you want to say. And, if you’re worried that person may not have seen it, you can follow up with a simple in person “Did you get my email?”

Sometimes initiating a conversation over text can make a follow-up ‘real life’ conversation that little bit easier.

For example, I’ve had situations at work where I’ve needed to ask for help on the simplest of matters, yet have found myself overcome with a wave of anxiety that’s screaming “do not ask for help, everyone will think you’re stupid.” Which of course, isn’t true, but does nothing to help. This is where sending an email/text can come in very handy.

There are also phone calls. Personally, I rank phone calls as one above face to face on the scary scale but some people like them, and if you’re one of those then please, go ahead.

And there we have it. You’ve done it. Or you’re about to do it. Or you’re thinking about sending that text. In most situations, from minor ‘I’m not sure’ to major ‘If I don’t get help soon everything might come crashing down around me’, asking for help is the first step.

You know how they say ‘A problem shared is a problem halved’? Well it might be horribly cliché, but it’s also kind of true.

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