Episode 16: Asking for Help – How to Ditch the Fears and Opt for Confidence
We all need help from time to time. There’s no reason it needs to be weird, scary, or complicated. In today’s episode I expose our most common reasons why we fear asking for help and the way to ditch the fear and opt for confidence instead. As we all need a little help, you’re not going to want to miss this one! Tune in with LDS Life Coach Hannah Coles on The Confidence Catalyst Podcast.
Asking for help is up there with fear of death
Asking for help is terrifying for a lot of people. Even asking for a tiny amount of help makes a lot of us terribly uncomfortable. We have a lot of fears and insecurities when it comes to asking for help especially when we really need it. I read recently that it’s one of the top ten things people fear, along with fear of death, spiders, and speaking in public. That’s how much of a problem this is for majority of the human population.
So how can you learn to confidently ask for help because we all need help from time to time?
We’ve all read or heard people give advice on this topic and they start by telling you need to open your mouth and just ask. People aren’t mind readers. They don’t know what you’re needing and despite all the clues we’re leaving for them – they might not get or pick up on those many clues. So the first step isn’t to ask. The first thing is to understand WHY you have a hard time wanting to ask for help in the first place.
You need to learn how to overcome the fears first so you can show up confident and ask for help when you need it. There’s a big difference when you show up asking for help from fear vs asking for help from confidence, right?
Timid asking vs Confident asking
When you’re too wrapped up in your own fears you ask from a very timid, fearful place – like a dog with cowering with it’s tail between it’s legs, right? You’re like, “If it’s okay, if it’s not too much of a burden, I’m so sorry to even ask” – can you hear that in my voice even? This higher pitched, timid tone because you’re afraid of how they’re interpreting your request, are they judging you, do they think less of you now, are you imposing on them?
Vs. If you could show up confident and then ask, it’s a very different tone. It’s like asking someone if they like the color blue – “hey do you like the color blue?” There’s no fear because you’re not afraid of what they’ll say- it’s just information.
Blueprint for fear of asking for help
So I want to dig deep today about what these fears are. I have an acronym to help you remember these fears not so you can just have that information but from today on you have a starting point towards understanding wherein your work lies. It’s like when people say, “Oh I have such a hard time asking for help” – this very big statement can mean so many different things to other people.
So if you can have this blueprint so to speak of fears involved you can specifically see where you struggle the most and maybe this struggle is one with this particular person and another with someone else so then you can use this to your advantage and create a discussion around it.
Instead of just saying, “I have a hard time asking you for help” to which the other person would be like, “I always help you, why would you have a hard time asking?” – you can say, “I have a hard time asking you because I’m afraid that I’ll be a burden on you.” Then you have that discussion and dig deeper to what the real problem is.
It starts with the I-BROWS
So the acronym is kind of silly, it’s I brows – not spelled the correct or traditional way. This is I as in the letter I and then brows. Which is actually perfect because if you think about asking for help – what do your eyebrows do? And what are you expecting the other persons eyebrows to do?
Let’s get you to a place where the eyebrows can stay neutral and in a relaxed state for both parties involved.
First, I is for Individual Judgement
So I is for individual judgement. We’re terribly afraid of what others are thinking about us. We’re afraid that they might be thinking negatively about us and we just can’t stomach that so it becomes this fear where you just don’t want to ask at all because you don’t want them to THINK anything negative about you.
I listened to these two women talk about asking for directions. One woman said that she loves asking for directions. That it’s a lost art so to speak and that when she does she’s able to connect with others and meet others that she wouldn’t have otherwise. That we’re a social people and it’s a lost art that we’re not connecting with others, looking up even and so ask, ask away.
Then the other woman started in and was like, no. Do not ask for directions. If someone asked me for directions, I’d be like, Don’t you have a phone? Like it’s expected to use your gsp – stay in your own bubble, don’t inconvenience me by asking for something so trivial as directions.
Opposition in all things
And I loved these two perceptions because you’ll probably find both. Sometimes you’ll ask and you’ll get person number one that would love to have a conversation, help you out, come over and do your dishes, and just be delighted to help.
Then you’ll ask others for help and they’ll very shortly and curtly say, NO. Don’t you have __________to help you?
But this a fear because we’re so worried about the latter. We don’t want others to judge us or think negativity about us so we’d rather wander, lost – struggling, needing help and won’t ask because the other person MIGHT have a thought about you.
So let’s talk about this for a moment.
How can you stop worrying or fearing what others might think of you when you ask for help?
The first thing is to get out of their head. Here’s where we get into trouble. We start meddling in the other person’s brain. We’re too wrapped up in their thoughts – or let me rephrase that correctly – we’re too wrapped up in what WE THINK they’re thinking. This is why I call it individual judgment instead of just judgment because it’s NOT really them judging you – it’s YOU and your perception THINKING that they’re judging you. But we don’t actually know what they’re thinking so we just make up a story about what they’re probably thinking and when you’re stuck in their head – you’re leaving yours unattended.
Byron Katie says, “staying in your own business (aka your own head) is a full time job”. Stay in your own head. Instead of worrying or fearing what they might think of you why not just make a decision ahead of time. It’s like those two ladies. We fear the latter. We hope for the first but really we’re afraid we’ll get the latter and no thanks. So why not instead just make the decision ahead of time that they’ll all be lady number one? They still might say no – which is another fear I’m going to talk about – but if it’s a no then it’s not because she’s judging you – it’s that she would if she could. And just decide that.
What story are you spinning?
Tell yourself that story. Believe that people really do want to help other people – that they’re not judging you because everyone needs help from time to time and that she totally understands.
Think about how this story feels so much better in our minds than the fear that they’ll think they worst of you. Also, notice this – because this is fascinating too, When you’re wrapped up in their heads thinking that they’re judging you – you’ve made a judgment about them. You’re judging them for a possibility that they might judge you so you’re judging ahead of time. You’re mirroring the behavior you’re afraid of.
So again, reframe the belief- retell the story in a way that serves you. Keep you individual judgment to yourself, about yourself, and let them think whatever they want to think about you. Do you know that their thoughts can’t hurt you?
We don’t even know what those thoughts are and you don’t need to know. You can just decide ahead of time that they’re thinking the best of you and leave it at that. It feels so much better to approach someone with that mentality vs what if they’re judging me?
Okay, B – B is for fear of being a burden.
I think this is a huge one for a lot of us. We don’t want to inconvenience anyone or overstep on the friendship or relationship or put anyone else out. We ourselves don’t like being inconvenienced at times so just assume that anytime we ask anyone for help we’re going to seen as a burden.
We have a family member that would say this phrase, “There are two kinds of people in this world: Those who work and those who make others work” – I used to believe that you didn’t want to be the person that made others work. That that was bad and seen in a negative light. I still love this phrase for many areas of my life because I do want to contribute and work but this can also be harmful when we don’t allow ourselves to get the help we need.
Part of this goes back to fear of judgement – afraid they’ll see you in a negative light – that you’re adding work for them so refer back to staying in your own head. But there have been several studies done that science shows that we as human beings actually feel better when we help someone else. It’s called altruistic giving. When people help other people they actually activate a portion of their brain that feels good.
According to a research study done at UC Berkeley notes:
“Social scientists, psychologists and medical researchers are finding ways altruistic giving rewards the giver. Notably, giving to others can be seen in the larger context of social support, which research has consistently linked to health and longevity…and even enhances resistance to illness…
Research suggests that the biggest health benefit may come from providing support to others, rather than receiving it.” –
Stop assuming the worst
Instead of assuming the worst – that you’re an inconvenience, that if you ask for help you’re creating more work for others and that’s a BAD thing – why not believe that people genuine do want to help other people and that by giving them the opportunity to serve and help is a benefit to them, to their health, to their longevity.
This doesn’t mean that we stop working altogether – “Hey, I’m doing this for you” – it’s more, you can feel confident asking for help when you need it because it just might be less of a burden than you originally thought. So go in with that mindset – and again, yes, other people might feel inconvenienced. They might say no. There’s a 50/50 chance right? But instead of worrying about that, that it’s a negative thing – just remember you have agency to choose what you want to make that mean about you, about them. Why not look at it like, “They would if they could and it’s okay” – let’s try another option.
It’s only a problem if YOU think it’s a problem
It’s only a big deal if we make it a big deal. It doesn’t have to be a problem. You don’t have to interpret your request as an automatic burden. It is possible to confidently ask someone for help knowing that they might really enjoy doing it.
I remember countless times asking for help with childcare when my kids were really little and my husband and I were poor college students. We didn’t have a lot of extra money or any, and it was difficult to pay for the date night let alone the babysitter $50 afterwards. So we had to get creative. We asked family and friends and each time I was plagued with worry of being a burden. I spent majority of the evening thinking and fretting and worrying about the people that were watching my kids, that we were putting them off by asking them for help and they didn’t really want to be babysitting.
Did I know that? No. It wasn’t provable and it was such an energy drainer. I couldn’t enjoy the date night because I wasn’t fully present. I was too worried about being a burden. Did that worry serve any purpose? No. Did it help with the people watching my kids, myself, or anything? No. It was just expending energy that could have been spent enjoying our limited time out.
Also, as I’m in a different season, still loving the kids at home season, but now we have older kids and I tell you what. We enjoy watching other kids sometimes. My kids love it. They get to help babysit and do fun things with these new little faces and we miss the younger ages and the silly things they do.
If I had known then what I know now I would have been much more likely to ask, to feel confident asking, and to enjoy my time away. The giver does receive so much. You have the option and choice to think about asking from a different light. You can think that you’re a burden and when you think that you’ll find evidence to prove that true. Or you can think, “they’re probably loving this opportunity to help” – which one is going to serve you better?
Okay, R – R is for Rejection. Fear of being rejected.
I heard a saying once that went like this, “Once burned, twice shy?” – basically saying that once we’ve asked for help when we really needed it and someone said no we’re not as gungho to put ourselves out there again and ask again.
It doesn’t feel good to be told no. Rejection on the other hand is a feeling that you create by what you made that NO mean about you. Again, optional.
I remember once asking a really good friend of mine for a favor. It was something I couldn’t do on my own and I needed her help. I was reluctant to ask. I didn’t want to be a burden. But I justified it by telling myself that I never ask for anything and I’ve helped her out on so many occasions surely she’d say yes, right? Only no. It was a pretty fast no and I made it mean all kinds of crazy. I felt rejected. I thought that her refusal to help meant that she didn’t really care about me or our friendship. She didn’t value the time that I had given her or the many times I’d helped her. I just went to town catastrophizing everything about that one short conversation. It wasn’t pretty.
I didn’t know then what I know now. This is gold, my friends. If you only hear one thing out this podcast, hear this: What they say has nothing to do with you and everything to do with them.
I’m going to say that again. What they say, that NO has nothing to do with you and everything to do with them.
Rejection is a feeling that we create by thinking that we’re not accepted or included or wanted. We then feel rejected. It’s a choice. It doesn’t mean the request wasn’t reasonable. It doesn’t mean anything negative about you. It just means that for their own personal reasons – that you do not need to know – it’s a no and that’s okay. Their no is just information.
Their no is the same equivalency of asking someone if they like spring or fall. Fall, btw is the correct answer. Just kidding. You’re allowed to love whatever season you want best because what you think, say, feel, and do has nothing to do with me. It’s not rejection. It’s information. That didn’t work, they’re a no. Now what? Who else can I ask, what else can I try? What else can I do?
Stop making it about you because it’s not about you.
O – O is for Fear of owing someone – having to give back and to match their behavior.
No one likes being indebted to another. We’ve also heard this belief that nothing is for free, right? We don’t want to ask for help in fear that now you’ll be indebted to them and what if the next time they ask for something you won’t want to do it? You’ll feel obligated and no, it’s just easier to do it solo and not have to owe anyone anything.
I don’t think that we go into already thinking, we’re going to owe them but what I see happening more often is that we feel bad for asking them in the first place. We feel like we need to do something overly kind to pay them back for this huge imposition in the first place. So then you’re caught up in the owing drama and it’s just not fun.
If you go into asking or helping in that mindset you’ve set up that relationship for some hard times because you’re going to be counting and looking for a balance. I did this, now they have to do this. Or last time they asked for help they brought over this huge gift so if I need help I have to reciprocate and I just can’t do that right now.
It creates a wedge more than being helpful or as an incentive. If you ask someone who is hesitant and then you try and seal the deal with a favor, a debt, an I owe ya one – you’ve created a transaction and not a help. This not to say that you can’t do anything nice or out of gratitude for their service but check your motives.
Are you offering out of fear? Is it out of leverage and manipulation? Like, If I offer this then they’re more likely to say yes vs. I’d be so grateful if you could do this and to say thanks here’s a plate of cookies. There’s a difference between gratitude and manipulation or bribery.
The last think you want is a relationship based on keeping score and trying to one up each other. It’s uncomfortable and then you’ll find you have an even harder time asking for help in the future because now you’ve laid the groundwork for needing to pay in some way shape or form.
Be authentically YOU
Instead just ask for help when you need it and leave it at that. Be authentically you. Not afraid that you’ll be owing them or that they’ll expect something in return. Just do what you naturally and normally do – say thanks, send a text, bake cookies if that’s the way you show love and gratitude but please watch your motives – Are they fear based? Or is it genuinely out of love?
When you can get rid of the fear of a score card you’re much more likely to ask for help confidently instead of timidly.
Okay, W – W is for Fear of being seen as weak.
No one wants to be seen as weak or needy. So instead of asking for help we try to tough it out. When people ask, hey are you okay? You plaster on your fake smile and say, yeah I’m fine! But really…you could use the help.
I remember a conversation I had with a friend a while back. She was commenting on this woman that posted that she’s really tired and if someone could just come and take her kids off her hands for a few hours she’d just be so grateful. This friend that I was talking to was taken aback that this woman would post such a thing – not because of the request itself but that she herself didn’t get that option when she was having kids. She commented to me that, “I didn’t ask for help. No one did. You just suck it up and figure it out.”
It’s comments and thoughts like this that somehow this woman isn’t as strong as others. That by asking for help she’s weak and not as good as others. And there ARE people that think like this. We all have our agency and people might think you’re this. They might not agree with the help you need. But listen, what these people think and say says so much more about themselves than it does about the other person.
At the time I was a tired mother with all littles and when she told me that I was in complete empathy for that woman. Empathy and like, YES! Why didn’t I think of that?! Because you know what? That woman had several responses. Other mothers feeling her struggle and reached out.
Asking for help is not a weakness. It is a strength.
Not asking for help doesn’t make you tougher or stronger, it makes you foolish. It’s like being on a row boat and your rowing and rowing and you’re just wearing yourself out so fast but you forget there’s 7 more people on the same boat all equipped with paddles too.
We all CAN do things, many things alone but why not utilize this amazing network of people around you and lighten the load?
Here’s the thing too, being seen as weak is a thought. It’s not provable. Notice, if you’re afraid that they’ll think you’re weak I want you to notice that you’re prejudging them. You’re afraid that they’ll judge you as being weak and instead what you’re doing right now is judging them. You mirror what you fear most. You’re assuming they’ll judge you so instead you judge them ahead of time.
Get out of their heads.
When I ask for help I don’t make it mean that I’m weak. I make it mean that I’m brilliant for asking for help when I need it and that I invite other amazing people to share their uniqueness with me.
Margie Warell said, “The truth is that we all have gifts to share – time, talent, connections, insights, experience, skills, resources, hospitality. And most people love to share them!…We can all do so much more together than we ever can alone. Too often though we ‘tough it out’ rather than reaching out to ask for help when we need it most. Fear gets the better of us while depriving others of a chance to show they care and share their gifts.”
So do some work to get your head clean and clear before asking. When you do your work ahead of time you’ll show up confident, secure, and authentic. It’s only when you’re not prepared and you bring your own inner drama and mess to the table that things start to get muddled.
Okay, last fear that blocks confident asking is S for being SELF-RELIANT
Although related to fear of being seen as weak it gets it’s own category. We live in a pretty self-reliant society. We operate from a self-reliant belief system. There are even classes to help teach how to be more self-reliant and self-sufficient. We value, honor, and hold in high esteem this principle of being able to take care of yourself.
While I absolutely believe in this as well, I also believe that there are many appropriate times when asking for help is not only valuable but necessary. We have a thought that people SHOULD take care of themselves. People SHOULDN’T ask for help. People SHOULD be more self-reliant.
SHOULDS and SHOULDN’TS
I remember talking to someone at church and just trying to help out another friend and this person got a little short with me and threw out the “appropriate order of events” that they SHOULD do first before others got involved. I was so surprised by her quick response and jumping to that space of what they should do as if she were offended or annoyed that they were asking in the first place. And I shared with her that this friend wasn’t looking for a handout. She could do everything she needed for herself but that didn’t mean that I, as her friend could see how helping her out would lift her load a bit and I wanted do help figure out a way to accommodate that need.
After that the conversation got a little more pleasant but so many of us have this strong belief that people SHOULD ALWAYS just take care of themselves and not ask. Don’t ask for directions – use your smart phone. Don’t ask for someone to watch your kids – do it yourself. Don’t ask, don’t ask, don’t ask. This is the wrong message.
Should’s come from OUR OWN MANUALS
We have to recognize that anytime we’re using the word SHOULD, we’re operating from our own manual, our own self-written book of beliefs of how others should act and treat us and themselves so we can feel better. But it’s all just thoughts. It’s all just optional. Not everyone even has that same belief – no, I am not knocking the belief that we benefit from being self-reliant. I’m offering to you that asking for help is okay – even if you haven’t gone through the list of requirements.
If you need help, ask. You have to play out what the worst that can happen is. It’s just two options really, right? The worst that can happen is that they tell you no, right? Or some form of no – like, have you tried this option yet? Either way, it’s all information. The fear, worry, rejection – all comes from what YOU are thinking – not them. It’s generated by your thoughts and what you’re choosing to think. You have 100% control over that which is great news. You can decide ahead of time what you want to think about you, your request, if you like your reasons for asking, and you don’t have to make their response mean anything negative about you.
Confidence is a feeling that comes from your thoughts
It’s so good. Remember, confident asking comes from YOUR thoughts -what you’re thinking about, what you’re thinking about them, what you’re making your request mean about you. You hold all the power to being able to ask for help confidently.
Keep your mind focused on what you WANT to think about them, about you, about why you want the help. It doesn’t always have to be a dire need either. We’re not alone for a reason – we do need each other. We can be such a blessing to others and help lift their load to make life a little easier and likewise we can ask others to do the same for us.
Asking for help doesn’t have to be scary, wrong, or taboo. Asking for help is a strength. The more you practice this art, the better you’ll get at learning to create the feeling you want to ask more confidently in the future.
Okay, you guys, I will see you next week! Have a fantastic week and don’t forget to leave a review for me. Talk to you all later!
Need a little help with this? I’ve got you. Set up a free consult call with me and let’s get you feeling more CONFIDENT! Book that HERE