Why is asking for help so hard?!?!?!
America is a country founded on the principles of independence and self-sufficiency. As a result, we have raised a whole nation of people who believe that asking for help is a sign of weakness.
Let’s revisit those early days, shall we? We seem to recall that a group of settlers freed themselves from oppression and came to America where they fended for themselves and survived.
However, we often forget that few of them lived to see a 40th birthday, that men were so desperate for wives that they’d buy them sight-unseen, and that people had 8-9 children because 2-3 of them would routinely die. We also tend to forget that there were several groups of people already living here and doing quite well by relying on each other and that the settlers pretty much tried to kill as many of those people as they could. We also tend to forget that the settlers needed other people so badly that they kidnapped some and enslaved them.
So, the whole notion that Americans don’t need anyone and are self-sufficient is something that was never true to begin with, but we, for some reason, continue to teach it to our children.
Advances in all sciences have lead to an incredible improvement in the quality of life for all Americans. It is possible to live for an entire century. Children don’t just routinely die anymore. Many people have televisions, telephones, cars, and even computers. We can correspond with strangers in other countries in a matter of moments. We can have dinner ready in 5 minutes. The volume of information needed to make all these things possible is simply too large for any one person to fully grasp. As a result, we have had to specialize.
The man who still knows enough of what his dad taught him about cars cannot fix the cable when it goes out. The woman who can crochet just like her grandmother taught her has no idea how to change the oil in her car. The guy who can fix his own lawn mower cannot remove his own child’s appendix. The lady who can still make an apple pie from scratch has no idea what a modem looks like despite that she got her apple pie recipe from a woman in Austria on the Internet.
So, as Americans, there are hundreds of things upon which we rely every day that we need someone else’s help with. That irritates us because we’re supposed to be self-sufficient. When the cable goes out, it irritates us to have to call the cable guy. When our toilets back up it bothers us to have to call the plumber. When our car breaks down, it kills us to have to take it to the shop, but we do it. We call the cable guy, we call the plumber, and we do take our cars to the shop.
So, the notion of American independence was never true to begin with, and is even less true now, but yet we continue to teach it to our children.
When our kid has gotten suspended from school for the second time, and he stole money out of our bedroom, and he lied to us about where he was last night, we still REFUSE to call the psychologist. Why?
Because our minds and our families are the last things we have left. These are our last remaining bits of pride and we cling to them desperately.
We know that we have to depend on our medical doctor to save our lives. We know that we have to rely on our hairdresser to cut our hair. We are dependent on the garbage crew to come take away our smelly garbage and DARN IT, that’s enough depending on people. We don’t want to be dependent. We’re Americans, by Jove, and we don’t depend on anyone!
We say, go ahead and fool yourself if you want to, but think about it next time you call the cable guy.
The other barrier to asking for help is fear. People are afraid what others will think. They’re afraid someone will ridicule or laugh. They’re afraid to find out they might be causing the problem. They’re afraid they’re going to be asked to do something new. They’re afraid that everything will change. They’re afraid that if they ask for help they won’t get it. They’re afraid that it won’t work. They’re afraid that someone will tell them the situation is hopeless. FEAR FEAR FEAR! Asking for help is terrifying … until you get good at it.
The reality is that you are not going to be helped every time you ask. However, the reality is also that you are going to be helped some of the times you ask. Decide how long you want to live with your current situation and when you’re ready for something new, you’ll need to get up the courage to ask.