Hope for your financial life and beyond

I Need Help But Don’t Want to Ask

i need help“I can do it myself.” It’s a familiar refrain I often recite in my head. Even though it may seem obvious to everyone around me that I need help, I choose not to seek it. For some reason, my human nature resists reaching out and asking for assistance.

Why is that? What keeps me from admitting I need help? Why can’t I see the circumstances for what they are and then choose to rely on others to help me power through them?

Logically I should always ask for help when I need it. It would make my life run with greater efficiency and reduce much of the stress I place on myself. However, I’ve come to know this…I’m often an illogical person. I can rationalize away the greatest problem and convince myself I can handle it.

Sadly that’s a recipe for a stagnant life.

Why I Don’t Seek Help

From my life, I can quickly identify six reasons why I’ve refused to ask for help. What could you add to this list?

1. My own stubbornness. It’s true. I often don’t want to or think I don’t have to change my mind. Call me obstinate. Call me head-strong. I’m not moving from the idea that I can handle issues myself.

2. To save money. This is a biggie. Asking for help often costs. Instead of hiring that plumber to come install the new dishwasher I try and tackle it on my own.

3. Don’t see the need. Sometimes I’m just blind. The light hasn’t come on in my head that I need help. For whatever reason, the circumstances haven’t quite gelled together in the right mix to force the synapses in my brain to register the thought, “Hey buddy, you can’t do this one.”

4. Feel others are too busy. There may be people I want to ask for help but think they are too busy. They have their own lives to run. My request would only be an imposition that would inconvenience them.

5. Think I will be rejected. The fear of rejection is a potent force that keeps me from saying I need help.

Nobody likes to be turned down or snubbed. It’s crushing on our emotions so we’d rather deal with the problem than face someone turning their backs on us.

6. It highlights my vulnerability. Even Superman was vulnerable. But we don’t have any kryptonite in our lives, right? We are all-powerful and can accomplish anything we set our minds to do.

If however, we do find a weak spot, we surely don’t want anyone knowing about that. What might they think of us? I’d be seen as the worst person in the world because I had trouble with “X”. What a silly notion but I succumb to that line of thinking all the time.

How to Identify I Need Help

I used to think I could do it all. Maturity has made me realize the ridiculousness of that idea. So I’m trying more and more to ask for help and bring others into my life to solve problems and help with issues I struggle with.

Here is how I’m identifying when I need help:

When I lack the technical skill

In some areas, I can tread down the DIY trail. Some tasks are enjoyable and some I even love to learn. However, when I lack the technical skill and knowledge to accomplish a task, I sometimes frustrate myself when I take on the project because I end up creating more work for myself.

This is perhaps nowhere more prevalent than when it comes to Internet and computer technology. I did not grow up in the computer age per se. My first real exposure to computers didn’t come until my junior year in college when we had 386s with the Windows 3.1 operating system installed in our dorm rooms. Anyone remember those?

I’ve taught myself some things through the years but not enough to feel comfortable with the more technical issues. So I’m learning to reach out to people with those skills.

Recently I had the opportunity to work with Grayson Bell who runs the personal finance site Debt Roundup. I’d been having some technical glitches on my site that were beginning to eat into my productivity time as I scrambled to solve them. As a regular reader of his blog I knew Grayson offered many blog management services so I reached out to him to for help.

It’s nerve-racking to ask someone for help, especially when you might not know them very well. But I was confident having heard about his reputation for quality work from other bloggers. So I gave him a chance.

Grayson didn’t disappoint. He was prompt in response to my emails, talked me through what we were going to do, and completed the work in a timely fashion. There was no wasting time on his part to try and bill me for more time than was necessary. He had my domain transferred to another hosting company within two hours and my blog has been running glitch free ever since.

With service like that I’ll definitely be going back for more when the time arrives. With my limited technical knowledge, I’d have been a nervous wreck doing this myself. It was completely worth the money to put it in the hands of a professional.

When I lack the time

Time is commodity we cannot get back. It’s limited. Much like money, when it’s gone it’s gone.

So because there is so precious little of it, we have to manage it wisely. Our time must go to activities that create value and have purpose. Those activities will vary from person to person because we all have different interests. But we must make time for what is important to us and that means there will be other, less important activities that we may need help with.

At various stages in our life my wife and I have sought help and paid for services because we lacked the time. We’ve paid for someone to clean house, do yard work, detail our cars and wash our dog just to name a few. It was emotionally freeing to hand those chores over to someone else and not hassle with it. The time saved in those moments was put to use in other ways we felt created more value for our family.

When I lack the desire

I’ll be honest…sometimes I just don’t want to do “that thing.” I have little if no desire to be involved in that task. However, it might be someone else’s bread and butter activity. If that’s the case I see nothing wrong with bringing them in to help me with that task.

I have no desire to work on my car. That’s why it always goes to a mechanic.

I have no desire to hang or finish drywall. That’s why I’m contracting out the finishing of our garage.

I have no desire to create my own meals. That’s why I rely on recipes already tried by others.

You get the picture. Again your desires will be different than mine. Find out what they are and bring people into your circle to assist you.

Let Go of Your Fear to Ask

Saying I need help can be scary and humbling. Sometimes it will cost you money. It may force you to deal with personal issues, evaluate what’s important and where you are putting your time and energy.

While all that’s true and tough to work through I’m realizing more and more it’s worth it. I simply can’t do everything myself to maximum effectiveness.

There are people way smarter and with drive in the areas we lack who will be happy to come along side us. Find them today and start asking for their help. That will allow you to maximize your strengths and begin doing the things you really want to do.

Questions: Do you have a hard time saying, “I need help?” How else can we identify when we need help? How hard is it for you to ask for help? What keeps you from reaching out to others? Who has helped you recently that was just awesome?

Image by Rupert Ganzer at Flickr Creative Commons

Next Post: Don’t Be Like This Me: Blogging Mistakes I Made That You Can Avoid

Prior Post: Moments Like This Make Blogging Worth It

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  1. I am SO stubborn! My family constantly jokes about this. But it is a problem! Sometimes, I’m just way too stubborn to ask for help, thinking that it shows I’m weak when I need help. But on the other side of it, I want to help others!

  2. I can identify with all six of those reasons! I’ve also been there with Shannon’s reasoning. I was the one who always hated group activities in school because I could only rely on myself to get to work done. With freelancing, I’m slowly learning it’s okay to ask for help. It’s impossible to know and do everything on your own, and you need help if you hope to run a successful business.

    • “It’s impossible to know and do everything…” Plus our minds just don’t think about all the scenarios or the reasoning behind decisions. We think we have it covered from every angle but we usually don’t.

  3. A few years ago I got to go to a meeting with the owner of the Utah Jazz. He is the son of the original owner and he was talking about the difference between he and his dad. His dad built the team and a huge corporation from the ground up. Nothing was done without his approval even though he now had 3,000 employees and $4 billion in earnings each year from all his companies. He eventually burned out and had health problems and died.

    His son on the other hand said he isn’t an expert at many things and has hired extra people to surround him to make the best decisions and to delegate and now all the businesses are bigger and better than ever. You can’t be an expert at everything but I know I have problems handing off things to other people knowing that I’m probably the best person to get things done, but how does anyone around your progress if you don’t teach them and help them to grow.

    • “…how does anyone around your progress if you don’t teach them and help them to grow.” Great perspective Lance! Of course people won’t progress and that’s a dirty little secret of leadership. Many leaders don’t want their subordinates to progress. If they do progress that means they might be after the leader’s job.

      As odd as it sounds a leader’s job should be to build someone up so that they could take over the leader’s job. That’s leaders producing leaders.

  4. Ahhh, pride! I’m so glad I don’t have any. Stubbornness on the other hand…

  5. “I used to think I could do it all. Maturity has made me realize the ridiculousness of that idea.” Amen, Brian! I definitely used to think I could do it all and was killing myself trying to prove it. Thankfully, I know better now. It’s still not always easy to ask for help, but I do it anyway. I’m not a big DIYer, and don’t have a problem paying for help. One of the big reasons is that I lack the passion for DIY projects. When I hear people talk about their DIY projects, there is such clear passion in their words/actions that I simply lack when it comes to DIY. I’m better off spending my time on projects that I am passionate about.

  6. Hi Brian,
    What a coincidence, I just had a conversation about this yesterday when I had to detect a weak/soft spot in myself and this is it! For me it is realizing that it doesn’t make me seem weak(er) because I am asking someone else for help. Sometimes I feel that because of certain choices that I have made, I have to be able to do it all by myself, to prove that it was the right thing to do. Which is kind of stupid when you think about it 🙂 Anyway, I think we have come a long way, being able to say that we have a “problem” with this.

  7. I’m with you on this. I think in my case the fear of admitting that I’m not capable of doing it myself is the biggest issue. People have a lot of pride and it takes a lot to set that aside and ask for help. The thing is, if you find the right person to help you, then afterward you often feel silly for having waited so long to ask.

  8. I made it through college having only gone to my professor’s office hours for help ONE time because I hate asking for help. I powered through and struggled. In some ways, it made me tougher. In some ways, it handicapped me.

    Now, we would really like to investigate a career change for my hubs so we can move back to the South. I know people who might be able to help… But we don’t pursue it because asking for help seems like cheating. Most people call it networking! I’m not really sure how to get over that, but at least your post is a good trigger for more consideration.

    • My perspective is this…you never know who God might use to help. Or what doors might be open by just asking questions and sharing a need/desire. Maybe nothing comes from networking but I know this…nothing will definitely come if you don’t try.

  9. I think I’m with you on two of those points which is it costing me money and exposing my vulnerability. For instance this week I need to post on FB that I need extras on Thursday for a video. I have a bad feeling no one is going to respond, which is going to make me feel unliked and that no one wants to help me. This may be true or not true, but that is my fear. I’m with you on the laziness aspect too. For me I don’t assemble furniture even though the directions may say it’s easy. I know me and hate directions and will end up crying or breaking something. I just call my guy friend up and offer to cook him dinner instead. I know we should sometimes challenge ourselves, but sometimes we also know ourselves too well and why bother going through pain when we don’t need to. 🙂

    • Hey, I’ll be your extra in your video. I’ll even assemble your furniture for you while you video me if you like. See how easy that is? I think for the most part people like being able to help others. I know I do. I like feeling needed and I certainly love free dinners. ; P

    • I don’t ask for help sometimes because I have a hard time trusting anyone else. I know, I know, it’s a cantankerous and selfish reason. But how can you trust that mechanic to only replace what really needs fixing? How can you trust the IT guy to really charge you for only the time it took to take care of your issue?

      Trading seems to be a much better deal for me. I will give and give all day. I love to help others. So this way should work: I’ll watch your kids and you watch mine next week. I’ll fix your light fixture and next time I need a notary I’ll call you up out of the blue.

      But then I don’t like the tit for tat.

      Eh, I’m always destined to have to do everything myself.

    • I’m the same way with assembling things. Directions just make me want to run. So one time my son got a big wheel in the morning, but Jay wasn’t going to be home until late. I took a deep breath and muscled my way through it. It came out perfectly and I never stopped being overly pleased with that (small) accomplishment. On the other hand, seriously, if I don’t HAVE to do something like that, I don’t! I really just don’t enjoy the frustration!

    • Hey…if I’m in the neighborhood I’ll put something together for a free meal. Haha…:)

  10. When I was a lot younger I use to never ask for help, because I was always concerned about inconveniencing someone else. After having a career in the military, I have learned to always ask for help when I need it. I have also learned over the years that there are many ways to complete a task or project, and it’s ok to let others do it in there own way. Your way doesn’t always have to be the only way…..

  11. I wrote something similar for Sprout Wealth a few weeks back, though I like your thoughts better. 🙂 For me, I think it comes down to thinking I can just get it done myself or feeling ashamed for even asking. The first one isn’t going to happen unless I schedule it though. My schedule is just at the point if I don’t make it a point to put it on the schedule then it’s likely not going to happen. The end result is that it just ends up taking me more time to get it done – which is why I need to grow in being honest with myself as to whether or not I’ll actually do it. The second one…is really just nonsense. 🙂

    • “Feeling ashamed about it…” Isn’t it interesting that we think it diminishes ourself in some way when we ask for help? I’ve been there all too often myself. What I need to realize more is that it’s a strength to reach out when in doubt.

  12. Thank you for the kind words Brian. I’m glad I was able to assist. Though I help many bloggers with issues, I sometimes find it hard for myself to ask for help. I don’t like doing it as I want to get my hands dirty, so to speak. I like getting things done on my own, but there are many times I end up wasting time instead.

    • “Getting your hands dirty…” I know that’s a part of your makeup…you love DIY stuff. I only enjoy that to the extent that I’m confident I can complete a project.

  13. I have used Grayson for my blog and I was SO thankful that I did! For me, I don’t ask for help because I think it’s just easier for me to do something than to explain it to someone else. I had an intern this summer and that turned out to be the case in some areas. It was nice, though, when I found things for her to do that did not require a lot of training. Then she turned out to be a great resource. She is back at college now and I miss her.

    • “…it’s just easier for me to do something…” I’ve fallen victim to this many times. It’s the “if you want something done right (or just a certain way) you have to do it yourself” syndrome. I’m learning there is more than one way to skin a cat and that’s OK.

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