The Importance of Asking for Help (and How to Do It Successfully)

We often resist the idea of asking for help but we all need support to truly thrive. Learn how to ask for help successfully in your personal and professional life.

This is a guest post by The Mom Project Community member and Transformational Coach, Marisa Hohaia.

Now, more than ever, a parent’s time and energy are being stretched by unique challenges. Whether you are working or parenting or teaching your own kids (or some combination of all three 😰) our existence has been completely overhauled this year. And yet, somehow, the expectations of what we are responsible for is not shifting nearly quickly enough to keep up with the juggle of work and home life. 

Despite these overwhelming conditions we still resist the idea of asking for help. Perhaps it seems like it could be a burden to those that are asked. Or asking makes someone appear weak, incapable or somehow not enough.

We can be afraid to lean on others in our own community for one reason or another. Culturally, we tout independence as some great accomplishment, something magical we all aspire to — islands of perfect parents with enriching careers that never break a sweat while doing it all, alone.

There are two concerns with this outlook:

  1. Humans are wired to connect to one another. We are inherently drawn to community and relationships.
  2. We all have very real physical, mental, and energetic limitations.

We all need support to truly thrive. And all of these reasons you’re listing are just you standing in your own way of getting the help you need. So here are some things to consider to help you more successfully ask for help, in any arena of life.

Start small

Just like any new thing you take on, starting small is a good place to begin. Think about a neighbor that could walk your kids home from the bus stop with hers one day a week or how you and your partner can divide up dinner decision-making and cooking. One of my friends recently did this and now she and her husband trade weeks they are responsible for dinners for the family. Every other week she doesn’t think about dinner other than to show up and eat. And it has made a huge difference to have that shared burden.

I’m guessing that there is at least one small thing that can make your life easier if you leaned on someone else to help you. Find the thing and find the helper and just ask.

Start with people you trust 

Hopefully you have a circle of friends, neighbors and/or family that are close to you. These people are not only willing to help, they would love the opportunity. Last fall my friend's daughter was desperate to go to an afternoon makers club, but pick-up happened right in the middle of her three-year-olds nap. There was no great way to make it work. Until she texted her retired neighbor to see if they’d like to pick her daughter up on Friday afternoons. She felt like the ask was a huge burden until about a month passed and her neighbor came over to tell her how much they appreciated that she gave them the opportunity to spend a short time with someone as interesting and kind as her daughter. These two have built a wonderful relationship of their own and now she knows that it was less of a favor to her and more of an enjoyable opportunity for her neighbor.

Begin by asking those closest to you and you might actually be surprised just how willing they are to help, and how grateful they are for the opportunity. 

Be direct

Don’t beat around the bush or you’re unlikely to get your needs met. Be clear and detailed with exactly what you need and when you need it: 

“If you could help me out by being responsible for the children’s school schedule on Tuesdays and Thursdays so I can have those days clear for my work-related meetings that would be great. And if those days don’t work, can you tell me two that would?”

If you need it, practice asking out loud to yourself before asking the other person. You will feel more confident after a little bit of practice, and that is true with most asks.

Ask in advance

It’s rare to find people available to help out last minute. And springing a request on someone that requires them to scramble to help you usually results in either them saying no, or them not really wanting to help you out again. Don’t wait until you are already overwhelmed or in meltdown mode to reach out if possible.

Giving people time to plan for accommodating your request will make the process a lot smoother for everyone involved. Less stress is the whole point of the ask so this might be one of the most important points to consider.

Ask kindly 

This goes hand in hand with asking in advance and we (hopefully) all know the saying about vinegar and honey. Like perhaps we would tell our children...Ask without expectation. Ask politely with kind words. And offer to help in return.

I’m here to encourage you to give yourself the permission you need to let go of unrealistic expectations, fears and shame, and embrace seeking support. It’s no secret that the most successful people in the world have support in droves, and they are no more worthy of it than you are. Once you embrace asking for help you will realize you are becoming a better version of yourself, personally and professionally. And that’s something worth celebrating.

About the Author

As a Transformational Coach, Marisa Hohaia helps ambitious women learn to release unrealistic expectations and quiet their busy minds. She blends principles of psychology with spirituality to help them create powerful habits and build stillness into their lives, so that they can shift from overwhelmed to overjoyed. Learn more about her work here.

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