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How to overcome your fear of asking for help

asking for help
Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash

It’s taken me a long time to discover that if I ask for help I’ll probably get it. Sounds simple, but for most of my life I avoided asking for help for a variety of reasons.

Maybe you can relate to this reticence to seek assistance when you’re in need. Maybe it’s less a fear than a sense that you have to rely on yourself to get things done.

What causes this hyper self-sufficiency in some of us, while others easily call upon help in their time of need?

Here are 3 reasons we avoid asking for help and what we can do about it.

1. Childhood trauma

If you grew up with abuse or neglect in your childhood (including emotional), you got the message that you had to rely on yourself. Your parents and caregivers did a poor job and you couldn’t trust them to be there for you when you needed them.

If you grew up with abuse or neglect in your childhood (including emotional), you got the message that you had to rely on yourself. Click To Tweet

This leads to extreme self-sufficiency, hiding your needs, or dealing with them on your own. Rather than receiving help, you experienced your needs as isolating. They pushed people away, made them angry, and made you feel like a terrible burden.

You’ve learned to put other peoples’ needs ahead of your own. You believe love and relationships are conditional on you not asking for anything or demonstrating needs. It’s a maladaptive way of coping with what happened to you.

2. Self-sufficiency

This ties into number one and is especially prevalent in those who’ve developed an avoidant attachment style.

If your parents ignored your emotional needs, you learned to push them away in order to receive love. You adopted a mentality of taking care of yourself because you believed no one else would.

If your parents ignored your emotional needs, you learned to push them away in order to receive love. You adopted a mentality of taking care of yourself because you believed no one else would. Click To Tweet

Asking for help makes you feel weak and vulnerable. You don’t trust other people to help you or they’ve let you down in the past. So, you’ve resolved to take care of things on your own.

3. Indebtedness

Sometimes we fear asking for help because we have trouble receiving without feeling indebted to the giver. This may also go back to childhood if your needs went unmet.

Because you’re not used to receiving help or attention, you’re afraid to ask for it because you’d feel like a huge burden. You’d rather go without help and retain your independence than feel like you owe someone.

How to overcome the fear of asking for help

Be specific about what you need. Since we often fear loss of control when asking for help, telling someone exactly what you need will stop them from overstepping boundaries.

Ask the appropriate person. That means going to someone you trust and whose skill set matches the request.

Don’t feel like you have to grovel or pay the person back. It’s safe to assume you’re not a taker, so a simple thank you is enough.

Remember relationships consist of give and take. Fear of asking for help can be a way of avoiding intimacy. If you refuse to let anyone help you, you’ll never enjoy the connection that makes relationships worth having.

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