As you guys are aware, I have just started on my coaching journey. Have had interesting experiences so far. But one thing that has struck me the most is how most of us procrastinate on reaching out for help. Well, some procrastinate while others feel immobilised out of the myriad fears bouncing inside them. Bottom-line, why is it so difficult for us to ask for help?
October is just around the corner and so is Mental Health Day (October 10) and it’s the perfect time to discuss this issue and normalise seeking out someone when we believe we cannot make it on our own. But before that, I have to acknowledge my own challenges of asking for help.
When I was diagnosed with cancer, I remember my friend (my counsellor) reaching out to me. She wanted to talk to me, and I remember pushing her away saying I did not need her assistance, According to me, I had done a good job of accepting what had happened to me. ‘I am strong and resilient like my mom’, is what I remember telling her. I’m Fine!
Had she not pushed me enough to just start talking, I wouldn’t be where I am today… writing my blog, initiating my journey into Coaching and so much more.
Now, even when I see some of my coachees, most do not reach out on their own. They want to, of course, but somewhere cannot. So here are some reasons I have seen why people fail to reach out:
- We love to believe we are strong, or that is what the world wants to make of us. If we reach out, then it is an admittance of weakness. We are asked to seek answers inwards and draw strength from within us. Of course that is possible, but most often we need some sort of a torch bearer to guide us. Not all of us have the emotional strength and balance to heal all our sufferings.
- We don’t want to burden someone else with our needs. It’s selfish right? But practicing self-care is honestly not selfish.. it is just that.. self care
- Our past experiences of reaching out haven’t been the best. I remember once reaching out to a school teacher for something I needed help understanding, and she pulled me up for this, in front of the whole class. I was mortified. Nah.. not happening again, I thought!
- What if I reach out and they don’t want to help me? Well, you will never know unless you try. And you know what, most people love to help, in whatever way they can. Try asking for directions in my home city, Mumbai… atleast 2-3 people will stop and give you all sorts of directions.
In my husband’s organisation they had planned fortnightly calls on Well Being. Where the team got together and spoke on key issues. Initially all were quiet,’ but as time progressed people started opening up. The initial ‘Everybody says I’m Fine’ bravado went to ‘Wow.. we all are experiencing similar issues.. and I’m not weird or weak to feel this way.’ There are so many people struggling on so many areas in their life, that it somehow makes you atleast feel less lonely or solely victimised by life.
Similarly, I think life taught me some valuable lessons of accepting help with grace and dignity in the last 2yrs. Without the help of my family, friends, doctors, nurses, peer coaches.. I wouldn’t be able to do all I am doing today. Being vulnerable is a sign of strength and courage, not a display of embarrassment which Brené Brown’s “The Power of Vulnerability” TED Talk explains very well.
So what has been your experience around asking for help?