We (All) Need Help
At some point within the last few decades, the word “help” has become a word of powerlessness. Starting right now, let’s change that! Asking for help can be one of the most powerful and empowering things we can do for ourselves.
Why is this a topic that is so important to me? Well, I have an exceptionally large family. I have 4 brothers and 4 sisters, and all throughout my childhood, my parents ingrained in us a “do it yourself mentality”. Whenever I would ask my mom where to find something, she would respond with “Did you look for it yourself yet?” Whenever I would ask my dad for help on a math problem, he always made me show him my own attempt first. In all honesty, some of them were pretty laugh worthy!
These questions encouraged independence. I started figuring out ways to do things myself. Instead of asking my dad, I started teaching myself. Instead of bugging my mom, I became more resourceful. I tried seeking answers and solutions on my own. Did I really need to add the cinnamon to the pumpkin pie or could I just leave it out?
Through all of these experiences I learned a few things. I learned to be self-directed. I learned to be self-sufficient. Most importantly, I learned to never, ever leave cinnamon out of a pumpkin pie recipe! BIG MISTAKE! Much of this was learned by trial and error. But, I learned. And I’m proud of all of those things.
But, I guess I also taught myself that I didn’t need to ask for help, no matter how desperately I needed it. And I know that I’m not the only one who does this.
We live in a culture and time that values independence, composure, and success. On top of that, we are inundated with advertising and social media messages that tell us that everyone around us is happy and thriving, all of the time. People post their highlights, not their struggles. It puts a lot of pressure on the average person to “keep it together”. This has really serious implications for the ways that people recognize their needs, take care of themselves, and seek help.
A few months ago, my best friend from college passed away very suddenly and I was devastated. I retreated to my room and I stopped hanging out with friends because I didn’t know how to be around them without screaming that I was not okay. I thought that if I asked for help, I would be seen as weak and not the strong human they all know and love.
It took quite a while, but I finally gathered the courage to ask my roommate to help me find someone to talk to about the passing of my friend. She was overjoyed with the thought of me not only seeking help for myself, but also that she got to help me in the process. This reaction made me extremely relieved, and a little confused, it wasn’t something I was expecting. It’s positive experiences like this that can start to change the ways we think about asking for support.
I just had my very first appointment with my new therapist and I can’t describe how amazing I feel. Getting to talk to someone and finally say “No, I’m not fine, you’re right” was the most empowering and uplifting thing I have done in a long time. And to make it even better, when I told my three closest friends about my experience, they responded with “Gino, we’re so proud of you.” Was it uncomfortable for me at first? Yes. But, did it help? Absolutely. Is it going to continue helping? I’m hopeful that it will!
We all could use a little help sometimes – whether it’s help with a task or project at work, help resolving a conflict with a friend, or help getting through a tough time in our personal lives. It’s okay to not have it all figured out, it’s okay to need support, and it’s okay to ask for that support. It’s a learning process, but the more we can encourage these things in our own lives and the lives of the people around us, then the stronger, happier, and healthier we’ll all be.
Rest in Peace Jennifer Dutton
Too often, I see that people struggle because they take on too many responsibilities and don’t ask for help when they need it. We can proactively build structures and systems into the culture of our organizations to normalize asking for help for the people we care about. It’s the little things that can make a big difference. Here’s my advice: create a “check in” schedule. For me, I check in with my coworkers about the things I am supposed to have done weekly. If I don’t think I can get them done, I’ll ask if they can help or maybe just find ways to encourage and motivate me. Check out our blog post “Just Checking In” for ideas on how to get started.
*Meet the Author*
Gino Calavitta is an avid Netflix watcher who enjoys practicing American Sign Language and going to concerts!