Asking for help can be a very scary thing. Especially if you’re not used to it. It can be really hard to do. But once you’ve asked for the help, there is so much potential for change and for things to get better. This is something that we all know deep down: that asking for help, whether it be from a friend or a therapist, will really help us in the long run. So why do we find it so challenging?

Perhaps one reason why it is so hard to ask for help is that it means admitting that you need help. That you aren’t doing as well as perhaps you’d like to be. As well as admitting this to others, you have to admit this to yourself. This can be especially hard in Western societies today where we are so often told that we are out for ourselves and should be able to provide for ourselves on our own. We, therefore, don’t want to admit that we need help because society tells us that we shouldn’t need it. But it’s okay to need help. It’s natural in fact. Once we admit this to ourselves, it’s so much easier to ask others for help.

But what are we admitting when we ask for help? While we are admitting that we need help, there are so many other things that we might be admitting at the same time. And that’s what can make it so scary. We are also admitting that we can’t do something alone, or that we don’t know how to do something, or maybe that we simply don’t want to be alone. And that’s all okay.

However, we live in a society, especially Western societies, where we are told that we should be able to do things on our own. We are encouraged to look out for ourselves and pave our own way in life without the help of others, whoever those others may be. But this is a very unhelpful narrative. As human beings, we need others to help us do to the things that we can’t do alone. To help us with things that we are unsure of. It’s natural to need help, yet society often tells us otherwise. But it’s perfectly okay to admit that we need help. There’s nothing wrong with asking for help.

This narrative of being out for ourselves that is so encouraged within Western societies can lead to a kind of unhealthy stubbornness. We want to be able to prove that we can do things on our own, often because we are told we should be able to. While sticking to something on our own can show resilience, we need to learn how to distinguish between being resilient and being stubborn. We can be resilient and keep at something for a long time, but we also need to admit when we need help. Letting this resilience evolve into stubbornness and an unwillingness to ask for help can be extremely unhealthy, for everything involved. We can ask for help while still being resilient. Being resilient doesn’t been that we have to do things on our own without help.

The act of asking for help, once you have admitted that you need help, can be very helpful in itself. While the help you receive can be great, the actual act of asking for help can be very releasing. You have finally gotten this burden off your chest; we have finally admitted that we can’t do this alone. And that act in itself can make you feel so much lighter. To be able to admit that it’s okay that I can’t do this on my own. Talking to people about the things that you need help with, whether it be to your friends, family or a therapist, can give you a ‘warming’ feeling. This admission that I don’t need to be strong or self-sufficient gives us a release in a way that we may not have felt before.

Asking others for help, and then receiving help, is part of any healthy relationship. We should be able to ask those that we have relationships with for a helping hand. Both giving and receiving support is a big part of any relationship. However, we need to learn how to ask for this support, to admit to both ourselves and others that we need help. Whether we ask a friend or a therapist for help, this is the first step in getting to someplace new and healthier.

Written by Megan Husband