Why it’s hard to ask for help

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My mother died when I was 20 years old. It was my parents 25th wedding anniversary and they had just finished renewing their vows and ready to walk back down the aisle, when she passed out. By the time the fire department got there and transported her to the hospital, she was dead.  

I remember clearly saying to myself, “I have to be STRONG for my father because he was devastated. I didn’t even consider what my needs were and who would comfort me.  

The belief of having to be STRONG stayed with me for many years. I was the one that people came to for help because I was the STRONG one. It was important to look good on the outside, not be needy, or ask for help. I looked outside for validation because inside there was fear, self-hatred, and never feeling good enough. There was a hole in the soul that caused the disease to please.

Because of the belief that I had to be STRONG to feel loved, I didn’t know how to ask for help. I felt embarrassed, weak, vulnerable, and shame if I asked for help. I know today that asking for help is a sign of strength and not weakness.  

The belief of not asking for help was born out of a lack of respect and love for myself. A lack of self-respect can lead to feelings of unworthiness, or less importance than others, and cause us to subordinate our own needs and not ask for what we want.  

We have a chapter in our book, “It’s Never Too Late for Love” about asking for what you want and need. Why is it hard to ask for help?

  • We don’t want to be rejected
  • We don’t want to bother others
  • We may be afraid of what will be asked of us
  • We think we should know what to do
  • We don’t want to appear weak, needy, vulnerable, incompetent
  • We may not think our needs are important

I’m grateful that I have learned to ask for help and for what I want. If I hadn’t asked for help many years ago and went to therapy, I wouldn’t be who and where I am today. I was willing to do the deep inner work of healing and forgiveness.

I remember an incident many years ago when my ex-husband and I owned a Christian bookstore. We were having a very difficult time financially and thinking about closing the business. A regular customer invited us to their country club for dinner. After dinner drinks, the women turned to me and said, “Pat, I know it’s been difficult, is there anything that you need?” I took a deep breath and said, “We don’t have the money to pay our mortgage this month.” She said, “How much is it? I will talk to my husband tonight and get back to you.” The next day we had a check for the whole mortgage payment. Looking back, I realize I had the courage to be vulnerable, honest and ask for help. It gave her the opportunity to give and share her love.  

I received a gift this week from a friend who had the courage to be vulnerable as she broke down sobbing and asking for help. Rather than seeing her as weak and needy, I saw her strength and vulnerability. It was a gift because my friend allowed another friend and me to share our love, compassion, prayers, and kindness with her.  

My friend also had the belief that she always had to be STRONG. Asking for help and showing her vulnerability was huge for her. The pain was too great to carry alone anymore. I was reminded that a seemingly breakdown leads to a breakthrough.  

How about you? Are you able to ask for help or do you think you always need to be strong and in control? Asking for help when we need to is a sign of strength, rather than weakness.  

We are not meant to walk this journey alone, but we are here to support and love one another. We are all connected and ONE.     

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Pat Hastings

Author, Inspirational Speaker, Spiritual Coach, Retreat Leader & Radio Talk Show Host

Simply A Woman of Faith
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