How hard is it to ask for help?

Ask for help for my stuff? Yoikes no! I’m fine thanks, I’ll manage. And I usually do; manage that is. I don’t know about you, but I find it so much easier to do things for other people than for myself.

I’ve found not asking for help for my own stuff, my most difficult habit to break. It just doesn’t come naturally. I have a tough time holding myself accountable for my own dreams, they tended to be last on my list and so often not done, leaving me more and more frustrated and stressed from the Zeigarnik Effect.

I’m sure that learning resilience and independence with some really sharp, painful life lessons early on was a big part of this habit too.

So, I’ve always managed on my own, why would I start asking for help?

Where do I begin?

Firstly, try as I might, I can’t do everything I want to do on my own – not and get any sleep or play anyway. This is especially tricky for solo entrepreneurs.

Secondly, humanity loves community, most things happen easier, are better and a whole lot more fun with someone to help and share it with you. A problem shared is a problem halved.

I realised another aspect of this habit of leaving my stuff mouldering away under the pile of other people’s stuff when I took Gretchen Rubin’s 4 Tendency Quiz. According to Gretchen, I’m an Obliger, I’m brilliant at meeting outer expectations but when it comes to my own inner expectations I struggle. (No surprise there.)

Gretchen suggests that I’m motivated by external accountability, and I need external systems and people to hold me to my own internal expectations. You can read more about the 4 tendencies in Gretchen’s book Better than Before.

On the positive, being an Obliger makes me an ideal coach – I understand the need for external accountability, I have heaps of tools, tips and systems that have worked for me, so chances are they’ll work for you or we’ll find something that will.

So back to asking for help for my stuff.

When you ask, beautiful things happen. For example, my dream of writing a book…

Life lessons on learning to ask for helpI asked Megan Dalla-Camina to be my writing coach and I got some external coaching and systems in place, so seven months later I finally, after 20 years of thinking about it, got my book written.

My book is Breathing While Drowning: One Woman’s Quest for Wholeness. The book is about my fall into grief after the death of my 4-year-old daughter Jacqueline Bree. Through sharing journals that I wrote to Jacqui throughout her life and for a few years after, I reflect on the lesson I learned as a young mother who gave birth and then lost a child who had a fragile hold on life. Re-reading those moments with tears and smiles 20 years after writing them, I re-discovered a myriad of emotional, physical and spiritual experiences and choices that shaped me and directed my future.

Now, with hindsight and the wisdom of years, I can look on that young woman and see how far she’s come, what she and I learnt along the way. I can compassionately view the experiences of her birthing a child with a disability, her refusal to accept western medicine’s null prognosis, her search for answers, purpose and direction and how she and I fell into grief, and for almost 20 years lived as if we could never feel whole again.

Grief is never gone; there are still days when I have to remind myself to breathe, when I can’t see the edge of the ocean and when that drowning feeling threatens to engulf me. But these days I’m better at recognising the signs; I know where the life buoys and dry land are, I know how to use them and I can ask for help.

I’m more conscious that my life belongs to me, that I don’t have to be trapped in the stories, what I think, say, do and believe are what matters.

I asked my eldest daughter Cassi for a drawing and she’s created a beautiful book cover that honours her sister’s memory.

Each person who’s read the manuscript and knew me at the time has said, ‘I never knew how tough you were doing it, you looked like you were managing, I would have helped if I’d known you needed it‘. My response is, I never asked for help, sometimes I didn’t know what to ask for and sometimes I just couldn’t. The weight of outer expectations far outweighed my own inner expectations, my stuff just wasn’t that important. But it really was.

So perhaps today you can ask someone for help, or ask someone if they need help – it could make a whole world of difference to your life.

Here are some tips on ways to start asking for help:

  1. Ask for help with something small first (test, repeat, build your trust and experience).
  2. Practice being vulnerable, have a conversation that matters, share how you feel with a friend (as Brené Brown says – ‘Vulnerability sounds like truth and feels like courage. Truth and courage aren’t always comfortable, but they’re never weakness’.)
  3. Get over yourself (your pride, your fears, your comparisonitis), it’s absolutely OK to ask, even if it takes you 20 years like me.
  4. And journal (of course), ask yourself at the end of each day: Who did I help today? Who helped me? What did I do that would have been easier, better or more fun if I had asked for help? Who would I have asked? Why didn’t I?
  5. And if you need external accountability, then ask a friend or hire a coach or mentor.

If you want 2016 to be the year of completion, the year you finally deliver on your promises to yourself, and you’d like an accountability partner who’ll keep you organised, on track and heading in the right direction, contact me to see if we click.

Would you like to read more about those life lessons including resilience, courage and optimism in my upcoming book: Breathing While Drowning – One Woman’s Quest for Wholeness? Then send me a note HERE to receive notification of the book launch. I’ll keep you updated semi-regularly on the publication progress.

Thanks for reading


4 thoughts on “How hard is it to ask for help?

  1. Macky Steele Scott says:

    Hi Veronica,
    Thanks for sharing. I want to buy your book, so keep me posted.
    you are an amazing woman and a great inspiration. I love your ability to always make me feel welcome, valued and included in any places we have met.
    I feel very moved by your story and sure brings up some of my stuff to revist.
    many thanks,

    • Veronica says:

      Thanks for your words Macky, I will certainly keep you posted. You’ve been there for some of those transformational moments. xox

  2. Carolyn Czernotowycz says:

    Veronica I have never met you but as a mother I can only share your grief and strength, I know your husband and beautiful daughter Cassi. I would like to purchase your book thanks for sharing your journey with us

    • Veronica says:

      Hello Carolyn, thank you for your words of support, it’s been a long road and they are treasures. I’ll put you on the list.

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