Facing difficult challenges
There are times in our life when the challenges we face are too difficult. We try to go it alone, but struggle under the weight of our problem. Facing a serious and life threatening disease is certainly one of the times. Yet many of us find it difficult to reach out and ask for help. Even when help is offered, we find it hard to accept.
Why it’s hard
I think in part accepting help is hard because we go about our lives thinking and believing we are all so different. We think other people have it “all together.” Through Facebook and Instagram, the outward appearance of success such as a good paying job or happy family make it easy to forget that underneath we are all human. Being human means struggling. All of us on this planet will struggle at some point.
We also tend to judge ourselves for needing help. We make it mean that we are weak or less successful. We judge ourselves, afraid to show vulnerability.
With all this swimming around in our head, no wonder we struggle!
How to ask for and accept help
All of our actions come first from our thoughts.
If you’ve been struggling with accepting help or asking for it, then it’s because you already have a negative thought about it. You have to first figure out what your existing thoughts are. Sometimes we have thoughts we’ve carried around for years, unaware that they aren’t serving us. Let’s explore some of the common ones when it comes to asking for help.
Appearing weak or vulnerable
People don’t want to appear weak or vulnerable by admitting they need help. Why is that? Let’s examine this a bit. When others ask for help, do you judge them as weak? Do you think less of them for showing vulnerability? Most of us don’t. In fact, I would say the opposite is true. I often admire people for having the courage to seek help. It also takes courage to show vulnerability. So why do we judge ourselves harshly for the same thing?
Wanting to be self reliant
Perhaps you struggle because you are telling yourself you should be able to handle it all on your own. That was certainly my thought. I was raised to be independent and self reliant. Those are qualities I value in myself and others. So when we were facing my husband’s cancer and all the implications, I thought I should be able to handle it all on my own.
I’m less than…
Or, perhaps you make it mean you are less because you need help. This can come up particularly when it comes to asking for financial help. Money is such a sign of success in our culture, that we feel having to ask for it means we aren’t successful.
All of these are just thoughts or beliefs we have that aren’t serving us. They are all optional, so we can choose to think something differently. Think about that for a moment. Many people have no problems asking for help. Why? Because they don’t have negative or judgmental thoughts about it.
Changing your thoughts
Once you recognize what thought is stopping you, you need to ask yourself if that thought is serving you. If not, then you can change your thought.
When finding a new thought, its helpful to first identify how you want to feel. Do you want to feel comfortable or secure when asking for help? What is that feeling you want to have? Then ask yourself how you need to think to bring about that feeling. Here are some thoughts to try on:
It’s OK to ask for help.
I’m OK with being vulnerable.
Asking for help is a sign of strength, not of weakness.
Accepting help is how I take care of my challenges.
What ever your new thought is, you need to believe it and then practice it. This requires you to be deliberate in how you think. This is your opportunity to grow.
Cancer can be a long journey. Don’t try to go it alone. If you are willing to get over your self judgement and negative thoughts, you will discover how wonderful our fellow human beings are.