Some people are really good at asking for help. They don’t mind picking up the phone to call a friend. They are okay with stopping someone on the street to ask for directions. And they seem to be fine with asking family members to provide their assistance.
But there are some who just don’t feel comfortable with this. They were raised perhaps with the idea that they need to do everything for themselves. Or they are under the impression that if they ask for help they will appear weak or vulnerable. Lisa Najavits, author of Seeking Safety: A Treatment Manual for PTSD and Substance Abuse, explains that having to ask for help can:
- challenge our sense of pride for doing things on our own
- make us feel like we don’t deserve to receive help
- create fear of being rejected
- seem to point out that we might not have anyone to ask
- create feelings of despair or hopelessness, especially when we have tried to ask for help in the past and have been abused or rejected for our needs
- create fear of depending too much on someone else for our needs
- make us feel weak or vulnerable
In a way, because of these obstacles, some people may need to learn to ask for help. They might have to discover when to do so and how. And in recovery, asking for help can become a necessity. In fact, in the beginning, you might need to ask for help a lot depending on your circumstances. If you don’t have a car, for instance, you might need to ask for rides to a 12-step meeting. Or if you don’t have income, you might need to borrow money from a friend or relative. When you first get sober and if you’re still getting back on your feet, asking for help may be essential.
Steps to Make Asking for Help Easier
Because you may need to ask for help at some point in your recovery, there are some steps to take to make it easier on you. Najavits, the author mentioned above, lists a number of ways that you can make small changes toward finding the help you need in your life. She suggests the following when asking for help:
- Prepare how you’ll handle it if the person refuses your request.
- Start small. Practice on safe people, with simple requests.
- Try to ask for help before a problem becomes overwhelming. You can call someone any time for help – before, during, or after having a difficult time with something.
- In asking for help, you don’t have to tell the person your entire life story and why you’re asking for help. You can be straightforward and to the point.
- Asking for help can make you stronger and more independent in the long run.
- If there is no one in your life to ask help from, work on building a support network.
- When asking for help, be kind and gentle. Don’t make demands or threats.
- After you ask for help from someone, compare how your initial fears compared to what actually happened.
- Carry in your wallet a list of phone numbers you can call when you need to.
These are suggestions for learning to ask for help. It’s not always easy, but with these suggestions, it might become a skill you feel comfortable with.