Why do we struggle to ask for help?


I had to ask for help recently and it made me feel deeply uncomfortable.

Last night, as I was half-watching Orange Is The New Black on Netflix, I figured out why. It was because I felt I had nothing in return to give the people who were helping me.

How I feel about being helped is all about my sense of self-worth. And that's all tied up in the idea of exchange.

When I feel like I'm giving someone something valuable, it's an equal exchange. Not help.

It's far, far harder to surrender to the realisation that someone can help me and I have nothing - I think - to give in return.

But I always have something to give. So do you. By asking for help, we reinforce our benefactor's sense of security. We strengthen the connection between us. We enable others to enjoy using hard-won knowledge or life experience.   

Thinking that way makes me feel good. But it also makes me aware that when I help other people, I need to leave my ego at the door.

All writers need help

I don't know of a single writer who doesn't rely on some sort of help with their writing, however successful they are.

I was amazed the first time I looked at the acknowledgements in the back of a Stephen King book. You'd have thought he would have revelled in the power to say 'I've sold a quintillion books and no-one changes a word'. Far from it. He has a phalanx of readers, researchers and editors.

If you're at all serious about your writing, you need the help of a good reader. And you need to listen to whatever they say. I do.

All yogis need help

It was easy for me to ask for help when I first began yoga. I didn't have a clue and I was spectacularly out of shape. But ten years later, when I now know a little bit, I enjoy asking for help even more. 

That way, I deepen my understanding of my yoga practice.

This, I guess, is why the best teachers I know are constantly learning. Of course, it helps them help their students even more.

David Holzer