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Why asking for help is so difficult


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Edifa - published on 05/14/21

It is often easier to help someone else than to receive help ourselves. Why is this?

Everybody knows that to love is to give. But because it seems so easy, we often forget that to receive is also to love. Perhaps, you are reading these lines while staring at a pile of dirty dishes in your sink thinking, I wouldn’t mind some help, and I guarantee that I have no qualm about receiving some! But don’t be so sure. People don’t always know how to ask for or receive help offered to them.

When offered no help or not enough of it, we tend to grumble or suffer in silence (depending on our character). But wording clearly what we want others to do is much harder. We’d like them to guess what we expect of them. One of the most common errors that friends, couples, and family members make consists in assuming that love allows you to read another’s mind. 

Why do we sometimes have such a hard time asking for help?

We can end up dreading dinners with friends and all that it represents: shopping, cooking and doing dishes. We don’t know how to come clean with our guests and family. We dare not say that our devotion and patience are not limitless. So, we’d rather be saddled with all the chores and allow everyone else lead a carefree existence.

But the Lord has shown us the way. He incarnated himself as a helpless babe dependent on his parents. He asked the woman at the well for water and a young boy in feeding the multitudes. And He even accepted that Simon of Cyrene carries the Cross. He made himself poor so we can come to His aid. He became man so that in rescuing our brothers and sisters we’d also rescue Him: “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink” (Matt. 25:35-36). He could have managed without us, but He chose to ask for our help: He knew that there is no better way to show how important we are to Him and how much He trusts us.

So, why do we have such hard time asking for help? The reasons may be multiple and linked to one another.

First of all, it’s the above-mentioned communication problem. Then, there is the lack of self-confidence: “Those who lend me a hand will see that I am far from perfect.  They may judge and criticize me.” This is particularly true if the opinion of a person is valuable to us (like parents or in-laws).

Asking for help means giving up on total control. 

In asking others for help, we acknowledge that we are not all-powerful, that we need them. This demands we accept them as they are and not as we’d like them to be. They are not there to be our slave, but come with their own flaws and personality that may perplex or annoy us. Working together with someone else requires more patience than doing everything alone. But asking others for help — no matter what it is, fixing a lawnmower or doing dishes — is a great way to raise their confidence by showing our esteem. 

Who among us doesn’t like to feel useful and loved? A 6-year-old emptying a dishwasher (even if he/she breaks a plate or two), or an old grandpa in his wheelchair who spends hours fixing a broken toy are happy to feel needed. And when we have new friends over, one of the best ways to break the ice and create a bond can be cooking a meal together. So, why go without the help?

Christine Ponsard

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