Asking for help never came naturally for me. I was raised to believe that success came from good old-fashioned hard work. Because of this I developed a pull yourself up by your bootstraps, grin and bear it, it ain’t over till it’s over mentality. If things got too hard or too stressful, you were expected to just soldier on—because that was life. No one was going to share your burden, but no one was going to share your success either, and that was the main goal—to succeed.
But as I got older, I found this kind of thinking wasn’t sustainable in the real world. Once we complete our schooling and leave home we realize that there is more to life than just getting good grades and maintaining a social life. And then help—in one form or another—quickly becomes necessary to maintain balance and sanity.
Accepting and asking for help from our tribe looks different depending on which area of life we’re in. It can be working together to make a project happen, dropping competitive urges in our yoga studio or workplace to hear out advice, or even just letting go of the belief that we should be able to do it—whatever “it” is—alone.
Wherever you are in this journey, some of the following tips may be helpful for you as you learn to ask and accept help from your circle. Just know: It’s OK to lean on others. We are here to support and lift each other up. It’s what a tribe does.
Don’t Be Afraid to Admit It to Yourself
Being vulnerable is scary; obviously it is, because if it weren’t, we would see people doing it all the time. But sometimes being vulnerable is the best thing we can do for ourselves. When we allow ourselves to be vulnerable, we give ourselves the space to learn, accept help, and grow.
A lot of asking for help has to do with letting go of shame or guilt. Our lives are so good—we think—so how can we admit that things are less than perfect? Why would we need help? We must be ungrateful.
But here’s the thing: Life doesn’t have to be terrible for you to need help (or to benefit from it). Life can be fantastic, and you can still need support. Sometimes, the more outstanding life is, the more support you need. And it’s OK to ask for it.
Learning to Lean on Others
Like the song says, we get by with a little help from our friends. All of us. On top of that, once we let go of this shame and admit to our friends that we need help, we’ll likely find that they, too, are seeking it. Everyone goes through similar stuff; we don’t exist in vacuums. The problem you’re having now? Maybe your friend went through it and can provide helpful advice. And maybe next year you can give a friend advice on what you’re going through now.
Really, how else can we expect to get through this life stuff?
So ask your boss out to coffee and pick her brain on how to climb the ladder. Chat up the yogi whose handstands you admire and ask her to assist on your next attempt. You don’t have to go at it alone; chances are that your life is full of people ready and willing to show their support. Admitting you need it is only going to strengthen those bonds and make your tribe stronger.
Help looks different for every situation, and for every person. Don’t be ashamed to ask for exactly what you need. Do you need someone to provide feedback for you? Do you need physical help, in the form of assistance on a work or home project? Or do you need someone to be an empathetic ear, to listen to you and provide support? Not sure what that is? Journaling can help, and sometimes just talking it out can help you find a solution or get closer to what you need.
Admitting you need support is only going to strengthen those bonds and make your tribe stronger.
Your friends, your family, your tribe—they all want to help you. They love you. Whatever you’re going through, big or small, they want to be there for you. You don’t have to feel ashamed or like you couldn’t do it on your own. They want you to know that you don’t have to.