Raise your hand if you have ever asked anyone for help. Raise your hand if you find it difficult to ask for help. I think I can confidently say that we all fit into one of these categories.
There are those who know when they need help and ask for it. Then there are those who need help yet find it difficult to ask for it; not forgetting those who are constantly asking for help.
Nearly everyone has had to ask for help at one time or another during their lives. To some, it's as easy as asking for directions, but for others, it takes some effort.
Have you ever heard the anecdotes about men who refuse to ask for directions? The ones who, no matter how lost they are, would not admit it?
Asking for help is a skill we learnt as children. When we were children we had no qualms about asking for what we wanted. It was almost instinctual. We could easily say 'I want water', 'I need to go to the bathroom'; 'I want to play'; 'Can you help me?'and the list goes on.
As we grow older our ego develops and emotions like fear, pride, insecurity and stubbornness get in the way. We start to believe that asking for support is somehow wrong.
While it may sound simple enough, accepting help is something that is extremely challenging for all of us at one time or another. It can be especially hard for those of us who believe that seeking help undermines our independence and our ability to cope.
Perhaps something in our upbringing or personality inhibits us from reaching out, when in reality we could use a word of encouragement or support.
No matter how self-sufficient you think you are, there are some things in your life that you will never be able to change without the support and encouragement of other people. I have learnt that.
Admitting you need help is not a sign of weakness but struggling alone is. When you admit to yourself that you have an area of challenge like with alcohol, diet, smoking or a relationship problem, that's the first step. And it is a big one, make no mistake.
But just telling yourself you know something is wrong is not going to rectify the problem. You need help to do that. And the only way you can get the help you need is by asking for it.
Before I continue, I think it is important to keep in mind as you read this article that I am not in any way trying to empower anyone to have a false sense of entitlement, where you expect others to meet and provide your everyday needs (money, food, clothing, shelter). When you are a child it is all right to expect to be taken care of. 'I want this', 'I want that', 'Can I have that'?
Coming from a child it sounds alright but for an adult, that is a different story. A time comes when you are expected to fend for yourself. Of course when help for basic needs is a one-off thing, it is all right but when you do it all the time, then it becomes annoying.
No one is entitled to receive anything. It is not a good lifestyle if you expect others to provide your basic needs while you do nothing for yourself. I just got a topic for another article!
When I talk about asking for help, I am mainly referring to help when you don't know how to do something and want to learn and also help when you need support and guidance to come up with solutions to improve your spiritual, medical, career, business, mental and emotional well-being. A good example I can give is going to the doctor for a checkup.
There were times when I knew I had a specific problem, but I chose not to go and see a doctor about it, simply because I didn't want to admit that something was wrong.
Ever had an experience like that? You need help to manage your physical health. Do you go for regular health checkups?
Many conditions, such as high blood pressure or high cholesterol levels may not produce symptoms until the disease becomes advanced. The fact that you look and feel healthy doesn't mean you are.
The ability to ask for help can make a difference in your wellbeing and the inability to do so can lead to many unnecessary consequences. The strongest people are not necessarily the ones who seem to be able to do it all on their own as we are made to believe.
Genuine strength includes an awareness of your personal strengths and weaknesses and the ability to get help in the areas where you need it most. So don't let anything hold you back.
If you need help, go for it. Johne Donne knew what was up when he wrote 'No man is an island'
Help is available and yours for the asking. All you have to do is ask.
I wish you well.
By Barbara Sai Djangmah/The Mirror/Ghana