Why is it so hard to ask for help?
Throughout life, I have been in many difficult situations. Who hasn’t? And, because we are all unique, we each deal with these situations differently. When a problem occurs, you can vent to someone, ask for help, power through it, ignore it, and some people even choose to wallow in it.
To give you an idea of how I deal with it, I give you this: When I was about two-years-old, I was struggling to get into my high-chair. My mom came over to try and help me, and I pushed her away. I yelled at her, “By my felf!” (felf being my understanding of the word “self”). Although I articulate it slightly better now, “By my felf” has been my mantra ever since.
While being independent and wanting to solve all your own problems is a good thing, being stubborn and denying the help you need when it’s offered to you is bad. There have been times in my life where I was so hungry I thought I’d pass out, but when a friend offered to buy me a .99 cent taco, I’d wave it off and say I was still full from breakfast. It was a mixture of not wanting to be a “mooch” (I saw many people taken advantage of by these “friends”), and also the fierce need to be responsible for all my own stuff.
Now, when the shoe was on the other foot and a friend was in need, I wouldn’t take “no” for an answer, using my last dollars if necessary to make sure they were taken care of. So, why was it so different? Why couldn’t I accept the love and help of others, even when I knew it was out of care and not obligation?
Part of it was not feeling like I deserved it. I’m an odd duck. I am great at being there for someone in emotional need, but if they invite me to something social, it’s hard for me to find the motivation. I literally go months without seeing people, and it can strain relationships if people don’t know me well enough. Some rare people can pull me out of my cave and into the light, but I’ve only met a handful of those. I need so much isolation that it’s hard to feel like I’m being a good friend (or even family member), so I avoid asking favors.
Another part is that, even as a child, when I felt abandoned or disappointed by someone, I took it harder than maybe I should have. I stopped trusting people in general all together. I adopted the “If you want something done, you do it yourself” attitude, and never looked back. Some of this may be tied to the fact that I was alone a lot, raised by a single working mother, and her only child. Through my dad, I had siblings, but only every other weekend and a few weeks in the summer. If I had been around them more, maybe I would have developed the understanding that people are variable. You can’t judge them based on one encounter or failure.
This ties into my writing as well. Yesterday I had to ask a family member for a small loan so I could get my book off the ground more quickly. This person has offered multiple times over the last year, but I couldn’t bring myself to do it until I realized my publishing would be pushed off for several months, just because I needed a little money help. Another thing, the idea of giving my book to people I’ve never even met to do editing or beta reading is terrifying. I won’t even put it up on the writing website I’m part of for critique, because I’m afraid it will get stolen. Now, I’m not saying I think my novel is just so extraordinary that people will flock to copy it, but we all know some people would steal the writing off a butter tub if it would piss someone off, gain a profit, or maybe just because they feel like it.
I read somewhere that INFJs are walking contradictions, and man is that true for me. I am at once the most and least trusting person I’ve ever heard of. Some days, I want to believe in the good in people so much that I would deny someone was a thief, even if they’re stealing the muffin right out of my hands. Other days, I’m a cold-hearted angry cynic who sees nothing in the world worth saving. Then my SO gives me a hug or one of my cats snuggles up on my lap and my heart melts, bringing me back to neutral.
Ok, I’ve babbled long enough. Tell me in the comments how you deal with difficult situations. Do you have trouble asking for help? If you no longer struggle with it, who or what helped you get over it?
One thought on “The Help”
I wish I could tell you that I’ve gotten over it. I think I have gotten better at it over the years (more recently in the past few months) simply because I learned it is impossible to do absolutely everything on my own.
Even now, I know I will never reach anyone with my writing if I don’t at least try to promote it.
It took every ounce of strength I had to even create this blog, much less link it on my Twitter.
I also worry about annoying people in trying to build my author platform. So, I understand completely.
I guess the best we can do is remember the worst thing that could happen is to not receive the help we’ve asked for. And if we’re already prepared for that, as most independent individuals are, what have we really got to lose?