I used to feel ashamed to ask for help. It didn’t matter whether it was a simple kind of help like asking someone to take the trash out, or a more complex kind of help, like asking someone if I could just talk to them about a problem. Either way was so uncomfortable for me, and so scary. Even if I felt like things were falling apart in my life, I would try anything and everything else first before seeking help. Does this ever show up in your life? In all the work I do, I really care about the quality that I put out there. Back when I was the manager of a restaurant, it was no different. I really took pride in how I ran the systems, took care of people and paid attention to the details that made all the difference.
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I began to become very particular about how certain things were done, and I’d had years of experience and great results to know that my way of doing things, worked. However, as a manager I relied a lot on other people to do their jobs with care also, and this was stressful at times for me, because I hated relying on other people. It wasn’t that I didn’t think other people could do a good job, but more that I didn’t like the feeling of uncertainty that came along with waiting for others to show up or deliver a cake and hope that it all works out as I’d pictured. There was this one event, a wedding rehearsal dinner, that I had been planning and coordinating for weeks. Then on the very night that it was all set to go ahead, I became unwell.
Back then I would have still showed up to work and power through, but this time it was more than just a flu. I was so sick it would have been irresponsible for me to show up to a restaurant where food was served. I had not prepared for this and I could not find a replacement for my role at the last minute. I suddenly found myself in the position of having to call in favours from colleagues and even my family to help me make sure the event went ahead without a hitch. This was so difficult for me at the time.
I was letting my fear keep me stuck
I loved feeling independent, in control and strong. But when I needed someone to help me do my job to the standard that I expected myself to be able to do, that felt weak, vulnerable and out of my control. All kinds of thoughts would run through my head, like; “If I ask for help then I’m a burden. I don’t want to be a burden.” “I want to be independent. I don’t want to rely on others. I can’t rely on others. I can’t trust anyone else to do things to my standards.”
“Asking for help is like admitting defeat. It means I’ve failed and that I’m not smart enough, strong enough, good enough.”
“I don’t want to owe anyone anything. If I ask for help now, then I don’t know if I can repay them and I’ll feel stressed and in debt to them forever. What if I haven’t got anything of value to give to them in return? What if they ask me to do favours for them that I don’t want to do, but I won’t be able to say no because they helped me out first?”
At the time, I was so scared to ask for help, but I couldn’t let the event just fall apart either. I had to choose between letting my fear keep me stuck and get in the way of delivering great quality to my clients, or to face my fears, let go of my ego and ask for help. Reluctantly, and thankfully, I chose to ask for help in a big way from many people. To my surprise, every person that I asked, agreed to help, and did so with enthusiasm. One of my colleagues even seemed relieved and said to me “I thought you’d never ask! I’ve been waiting for this moment since we met.” I laughed, but as I stepped back and watched the event unfold, I got to see a team of people rallying together, growing, learning and feeling empowered.
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Learn to receive
I had not realised that by me not receiving help from others, I was preventing them from flourishing and growing in their own right. Some of my colleagues were able to showcase their talents and best skills, that I didn’t even know they had because I’d never given them the opportunity to step up and show up in that way. I had never considered the idea before, that asking for help was not a sign of weakness, and that in fact it was a sign of strength. It can give people the opportunity to expand themselves, to learn new things and to express themselves. Sometimes it’s simply a way for them to express how much they care and how much they love you. But I didn’t know that until I felt like I was forced to ask for help.
Do you ever do this in your life? You wait until things are almost at breaking point, until they’re so bad that you see no other option but to ask for help, before you finally pluck up the courage to do it? And even then, you might ask but not receive. My mum used to always ask me to help her do chores around the house, but as she was asking me, she would be finishing off the very thing she had asked me to do for her. Sometimes I would then start on something else, trying to give her a hand, but my efforts never seemed to be up to her standards and she would just re-do whatever it was that I had done. I even asked her to show me how she wanted it done, but she just said that it would take too much time and she’d rather just do it herself.
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"After many years of training, courses, and counselling in various forms I thought I had certain aspects of my life sorted. Yet completing Emotion Academy showed me that I had been running away from my emotions and not facing them. After Emotion Academy, now I have the tools to engage with myself and win the internal battles once and for all - Neil Welsh, Victoria
We joke about it now, but back then it was so frustrating. I wanted to help her. I wanted to feel like I was contributing and to show her that I cared. I wanted her to know that she could rely on me and that she wasn’t alone. But it felt like she never gave me the chance. Instead I ended up feeling rejected and I stopped bothering to help her at all. I wondered “what’s the point? She’ll do it herself anyway and even if I go and do something else it won’t be perfect enough for her.” It’s interesting that I ended up repeating my mum’s behaviour later on in life in my career, and that it took a pretty big moment for me to re-learn that lesson.
Pay it forward
Don’t wait for life to slap you in the face or make your life fall apart. Help is always available. Most of the time there are people who want to help. It makes them happy. It gives them the opportunity to live up to their potential, to feel worthy, needed, connected. Think about how great it feels when you’ve offered someone help and they actually receive it gratefully. Often, the best way to repay people is by receiving their help in the first place, and showing your gratitude. Have fun while you work together, take time to relax and connect person to person, show up for them as they show up for you.
Sometimes we might not want to ask for help because we’re scared of looking stupid or that we’ll be annoying to others. Like in a new job when you’re still learning the ropes and building relationships. But that’s OK. It’s important to remember that everyone’s been there before and receiving help is not a one-sided transaction. Usually the people offering help are getting something out of it too. Some people want to help because it makes them feel happy that they are capable of helping, or because they want to repay you for all the times you’ve helped them. Maybe giving help makes them feel more worthy or important or smart.
Melisa Grigg - Head Coach & Trainer
Melisa was stuck in sadness for 15 years, hated her job, was overweight and her relationship had just ended. Melisa inspires people with her story and now teaches how she sorted her life out. She worked out how to be happy and how to lose over 30kg of body weight. In simple steps she teaches how you can stop procrastinating, find confidence, stop being so sad and finally start to find true meaning and purpose in your life.
More often than not, in general, giving help to others fulfils a deep human desire to feel that one is contributing, that one is a good person and that one is connected and part of something greater. In the workplace, often your manager would prefer that you asked for help and felt silly for a minute, rather than avoiding that uncomfortable moment and making mistakes because you didn’t ask. If you ever feel like you’re not worthy of help, then just remember that it’s not about you anyway, it’s about being a team. What if you were doing an act of service and being a responsible human by asking for help, receiving it, and using that to build on your successes in life? It makes sense that the more successful you are in your pursuits, the more you can give back and help others along the way?
These days asking for help is easy because I know that I’m not in this alone and that we’re all working together to achieve something great. I remind myself often that it’s not really about me anyway. It’s about us. I used to burden myself with the need to control things all the time, and to make sure that everything was going perfectly. By learning to let go, I realised that asking for help can bring people closer, and uplift so many more people than just myself. It took time and practise, but now I feel as if a burden has lifted and I’ve seen phenomenal success for myself and those around me as a result.
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