Do you like to ask for help? Do you do it as often as you should? Do you accept assistance from others willingly or as a last resort?
I ask for assistance daily, and have for as long as I can remember, because of my progressive neuromuscular disease. This doesn’t mean I enjoy doing it. It also doesn’t mean I do it as often as I should. I am stubborn, and if there is a way I can do something on my own, I will. Even if it takes longer and wastes precious energy I could better spend on another task.
It can be difficult to admit we are dependent, but the truth is none of us can survive without assistance from others. Everyone relies on other people to get through life. However, knowing we all rely on outside assistance to varying degrees doesn’t make it any easier to ask for help when we need it.
As is often the case for many seniors or people with disabilities, my decision to let others help me with my daily tasks was made when I fell. I lay on my bathroom floor on November 15, 2007, at 1:14 AM, waiting for the paramedics, sobbing not due to my injuries but because I knew an era of my life was coming to an end. I recognized that moving forward, I would have no choice but to allow others to assist me with daily living.
Can you pinpoint the exact time and date you realized it was time to ask for help with something? Do you know the precise instant you decided to stop worrying about making the ask and allowed yourself to expose your vulnerability?
A year ago, I received an invitation to speak at a conference in Tasmania, Australia. I jumped at the opportunity without thinking it through completely. Once the euphoria settled, I realized the only way I would be able to afford to bring a personal assistant with me was to ask those in my circle of support to help me financially. For months, I agonized and worried about how to make this request, what method of communication would be best, the message to convey.
Eventually, I bit the bullet and created a crowdfunding page. I spent a few hours writing my message and then sent it out to the world. Within four weeks, I had achieved my goal. The messages of support from family, friends and complete strangers were overwhelming, causing me to cry with gratitude almost daily. People had been waiting for me to ask and were glad I finally let them help.
It never occurred to me that others could anticipate and see my needs before I was ready to ask. Instead, I put myself through months of fits of anxiety and useless worry. I could have saved myself so much wasted energy if I had just had faith that when I asked, those around me would answer my request.
Last weekend, I received a message from my friend Crystal. Crystal has been a generous mentor to me on my writing journey, offering encouragement and support on days I have had questions and doubt. I grow and learn by reading her work on a regular basis. As can happen, she is feeling overwhelmed by life events. Crystal bravely reached out to her circle of support to explain her situation and make her requests, hoping we would help alleviate her stress. We all responded positively and by the end of the weekend, most of her requests were met. As friends, we can’t take away all of her concerns, but knowing we can help with some is gratifying to those who care about her (at least, it is to me).
Crystal wrote about her thoughts on “the ask” in a lovely post you should go read. She ends the post by describing the joy which can be found in giving, summing it up with this apt thought:
When we can’t fix what’s wrong, but we can help to ease a burden, it brings a particular joy which can neither be measured nor duplicated. It’s one of the mysteries for which logic is useless.
I hope we have all felt that joy. I know it is one of the reasons I find it rewarding to help others when I am able. I strive to express my gratitude and joy to others when they respond positively to my requests for assistance.
Asking for help is difficult because it requires us to expose our vulnerabilities. But in asking for help, we allow those who care about us the opportunity to experience the joy of giving. Why would we deny those who care about us the gift of that joy which can be found in selfless giving?
Maybe we can remember that joy the next time we find ourselves anxious to make the ask. Yes, asking can be scary, but allowing others the gift of giving brings blessings to both parties involved. Thank you Crystal for giving me the opportunity to create and feel the joy this week.
Has anxiety prevented you from making an ask? How have you felt when you have helped fulfill someone else’s ask?
Share your thoughts in the comments!
17 thoughts on “Making “The Ask””
That was great that you’ve received so much support and I’m really glad you were able to make your trip.
I’m extremely reluctant to ask for help because I feel like I’m putting other people out. I used to be the one people turned to for assistance and it’s not the easiest thing to admit that I need some at times.
The trip was AMAZING and I’m so grateful to everyone who made it possible. I agree – it’s very hard to admit our need for help. But nobody can do it alone. I have learned when someone says no to a request, it’s just a statement that they can’t do whatever it is I am asking. It is not a rejection of me. Sometimes they even have other ideas for a solution!
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I am most comfortable in the role of the one who gives assistance rather than the one who asks for it. There have been times when I could sorely use some emotional support, but I would not ask lest I appear weak, or worse no one came to help. I’m learning to be more open to reaching out to people when I need them.
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I think recognizing our needs is a sign of our strength actually. I’m glad you are starting to let others in!
Your posting has been written at a time when I am counselling myself not to be anxious about my anticipated (but truly unknown) problems with walking the edge of the Derwent in inland Tasmania later this year; problems such as my body isn’t strong enough to carry the weight of overnight camping equipment, the fear of running across back country scoundrels as I walk alone,coping with extreme weather in extreme isolation, etc Yesterday I voiced my concerns to my sister and she immediately offered an idea which might help – one where others might offer me support at the end of days in creative ways which I had not previously considered – if only I should ask. If only I should ask. Ahhh independence is a strange thing.
Independence is not doing it all on our own. It is taking control over how it gets done. I rely on others daily, yet live an independent life. You may find ways to solve your problems and still be independent in your quest. I’m sure there’s an answer!
Anxiety? Me?!? Yes. Always. I, too, prefer the role of giving rather than receiving. I optimistically perceive myself as The Knight in Shining Armor. Asking for too much tarnishes my arrogance.
But as I said – when you don’t let others receive joy from assisting you, you are preventing them from feeling the joy of giving. That being said – I’m pretty bad at it myself.
Most of the time, I don’t even know what it is I need. How can I ask when I don’t even know what I’m asking for? By the time I figure it out, either a solution has presented itself or the “crisis” has passed. In either case, there’s no need to ask anymore.
I’m trying to learn to open up more but I am a slow learner and it’s going to take some time.
Thank you for giving me another perspective and much to think about.
Yes, although I am not at this time handicapped in any way I have need to have help with being given a ride to places not within walking distance. So I know how hard it is to ask for help. Fortunately I have a wonderful friend who takes care of almost all my needs in that category. But who is upset if I have a need and haven’t asked for help.
What makes us so hesitant to ask for help, when we know that when WE are able to fill someone’s need we are very grateful for the opportunity? Is it a sort of pride? Is it worry that we are being a nuisance? Is it fear of being thought mercenary? Of wasting others time?
As quoted from Crystal, we know the joy that comes from giving help, so why deprive those who are ready and willing to give it, that joy? If we have confidence in each other we will know that requests for help only come when the need is greatest, and not when the asking person can manage things themselves.
And what a comfort to remember that “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these, ye have done it unto Me”
I don’t know what is happening with comments – but I’m hoping responding on a desktop will work this time! Thank you so much for taking the time to read and offer your opinion. Allowing others to see us as vulnerable takes courage, but it can also help us foster connections by allowing others to see our humanity and our needs.
Thank you for reading and offering your insight. I solve problems by talking them over with others. Many times, the process of sharing it with someone else reveals options I may not have thought of. I know I still have much to learn as well.
DeeScribes, I really enjoy reading your blog. I have an “invisible disability”. To the naked eye, I look and seem fine, but I struggle with a learning disability that effects my fine and gross motor skills and analytical processing, in addition to having bipolar, you would not believe the number of times because of my disabilities, I had to put my pride behind me and stand up for myself by asking for assistance. I am a stubborn girl who thinks she can handle anything and everything life throws at me, and it takes a humble heart to ask for assistance when you need it.
You are a beautiful woman; your smile radiates through your picture, and I feel privileged to follow you on your journey through life.
Thank you very much for your kind words. It is difficult for us stubborn girls to be humble sometimes, isn’t it? Everyone has something which holds them back, even if it is not visible to those around them. I’m glad to have you as a reader and hope you will continue to comment if something resonates with you.
You know I never associated asking for help with humility until recently, but it is hard sometimes in being gracious when asking for help as we like to live as independently as we can. You are right; we all have limitations, but you are an inspiration for following your dreams from going to Australia to living an awesome, happiness filled life. I was hesitant to comment initially, but I will definitely chime in now that my presence is known.
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For some reason I always feel like a bother. Even before my handicap I felt that way. I find myself having to ask for help with more things. I don’t know if I’ll ever like it yet I know that all you’ve said in this post is true because I absolutely LOVE to give help.
This part really stood out to me “Asking for help is difficult because it requires us to expose our vulnerabilities. But in asking for help, we allow those who care about us the opportunity to experience the joy of giving. Why would we deny those who care about us the gift of that joy which can be found in selfless giving?”
I know all that you said is true, Denise. Thank you for reinforcing that we all need to ask for help at times and rob others of blessings when we withhold…whatever our reason might be.
Melinda, I don’t think I quite enjoy asking for help even though I do it. I work at cultivating a wide support network so I am not continually asking the same people over and over. Sometimes life happens, and I have no option but to put out a wide “call for help” to everyone. But usually I can be more specific. I appreciate when friends and family tell me they want to help but aren’t available to do X or Y. It helps me determine options without asking someone who will be forced to say no.