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Why is asking for help so hard?

I’m having one of those weeks. You know where you get caught and stuck in your head, feeling like you are uncertain what the next step is that you should take. Backed into a corner by overwhelm and indecision.

Once in a while I hit these brick walls. Sometimes I know it’s coming and other times it can come out of the blue. I am fine, fine fine, then BANG! Wallop! Wall and me – crash!

More often than not, this overwhelm and indecision can come when I’ve find myself in a place where I am trying to solve the world’s problems single handily all by myself!

Or..when I am not being open with the people around me about how I am feeling. I am happily/unhappily on martyr island having a holiday for one!

I have always found asking for help hard. And I don’t think I am alone in this. Many of us find asking for help hard. I am curious as to why that is. We all know that being helpful, helping others and giving help feels really good. It creates that sense of purpose, of going over and above, of being of service of others. But yet, we seem reluctant, hesitate and shameful when it comes to being able to give that opportunity to others. To let them in and allow them to help.

So why is that and what can we do about it?

Let’s start by thinking about those things we say to ourselves when we initially recognise that we can’t do this on our own.

(I should caveat this list by saying you’re in good company here as I have had ALL of these thoughts!)

“I don’t want to be a burden?” We feel like if we ask someone else, we’re being annoying, cumbersome and putting a weighty expectation on to them that they didn’t ask for.

“What if they say no?” Awks! We ask them and then they reject us. Much better to say nothing, plough on ourselves than risk the humiliation of someone just not wanting to help us. *shudders*

“I should be able to do this by myself.” Now come on, this thing, whatever it is, I should have this covered. I’m finding it hard, I’ve never done it before, it’s new to me, it’s not in my sweet spot but I should be able to do it perfectly. First time. FACT!

“How do I find the words to ask for help?” Say no more. EURGH!

“What if they judge me as stupid, inadequate, less than?” See above! They will be thinking the same as me. Why can’t they do it and why the hell are they asking me…..durh!

So we’ve all be there right. At some point in time we will have had one of the above thoughts. I have many of them and sometimes still do. So, what have I learnt….what do I now differently to what I used to do. What do I hear from my coaching clients about what they have learnt and how do we find ways together to ask for help.

The first thing is to remember how good it feels when someone asks you for help. How flattered you feel. How recognised and valued you feel when someone asks you specifically if you can help them with something. The validation you feel that they are seeing something in you that is of worth and value to them.

They see you have gifts to offer them and that they need them. You are important to them.

Then comes the internal chat. The internal dialogue/battle. This is when we have a choice. A crossroads. A decision matrix if you like. We’ve hit the wall. We know we need help with X, Y or Z. At that point we have a choice. We can plough on regardless, in the spiral of despair and frustration or put our heads above the parapet and say “help”. Which one do you choose?

So how do we ask.

First things first get clear on what help you need and why. Maybe you are doing something for the first time and need someone to show you how. You are doing something that isn’t a natural strength for you, recognising that isn’t a sign of weakness, it’s a recognition of where you thrive and where you need support.

Then, you have to ask the question. Breathe. Count to 10. And then do it. Ask your manager to show you how (it’s kinda their job!). Reach out to a colleague who you admire for their presentation skills and get them to do a run through with you. Speak to a friend and explain you are feeling overwhelmed and that you could do with a listening ear and a cup of tea.

Wait for the best bit. Trust me.

They will give you a big smile and say “yes of course”. Happily. What can I do. And when? What do you need? And even someone does say, “not right now or maybe another time” That is ok too. Building up the courage is the hardest bit, after that the rest will take care of itself.

So, why is it so hard to ask for help? Because we think we have to do it all alone. In the words of Brene Brown “We don’t have to do it all alone. We were never meant to”.

Never doubt that there are people out there who can support you and help you.


If you’re looking to build confidence in asking for help, or seeking ways in you can more use of the support around you then feel free to drop me a message at about my coaching programmes. All designed to help you be at your best.


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