“To carry each other is not a burden at all, but a kind of privilege.”

My husband and I have just spent two weeks on a skiing vacation in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, with our three adult kids. We were greeted by other family members and their adult kids, so to say the least, there were Feltons everywhere. Unfortunately, one of the family members (“Nan”) was out skiing on the first day and broke her shoulder in four places. She had never had a traumatic injury before. For anyone who has, going from full throttle to park is a rude awakening.

We have all witnessed people who have gotten injured. But something very interesting takes place: Their true colors and those around them show through. They either rise to the occasion or not. What I mean is there are those who accept care, ask for help, or continually say, “I’m fine” and want to be left alone.

The battle began when the “I’m fine Nan” stubbornly rejected help from her own adult child (“Sue”). It was fascinating, yet sad, to watch the scene unfold. The frustration from all who wanted to help mounted hourly. Wanting to help the patient feel more comfortable, but to be given roadblocks right and left…”I’m fine.” She was NOT in the least bit “fine.”

So why do people not want or ask for help? We’re overwhelmed, stressed to the max, exhausted, and our energy is depleted, and we still don’t ask for HELP! What’s with that?

Why is it we’re eager to help others but not ask for what we need? To answer that question, let’s take a good look in the mirror. Who’s staring back at you?

Ask yourself, “What is it about asking for help that holds me back?”

Which one(s) below resonates with you?

  1. “I don’t want to be a burden on them.”
  2. “If I ask for help, it’s being selfish.”
  3. “I feel obligated to help them in return.”
  4. “I’m not that important.”
  5. “I don’t want people to know how bad it is.”
  6. “I feel they have better things to do than to help me.”
  7. “I don’t want to come across that I can’t handle x, y, z…”
  8. “I don’t want to appear weak.”
  9. “I don’t want to be perceived as ‘failing.’”
  10. “I don’t have the time to find or look for help.”
  11. “It won’t be done the way I want it to be done, and I’ll have to redo it.”

So how did you do?

I, for one, had my MASTERS in not asking for help twenty years ago! Yup, me! I could do it all. I was super human: wife, mother of three, “tutor,” entrepreneur, volunteer, competitive athlete, co-caretaker to parents, “chef,” laundress, landskeeper, and, sure, a few more. As a child born in the fifties, it never occurred to me to ask for help. This was my job. I was supposed to do all this, wasn’t I? “And how did it go,” you ask? I WAS MISERABLE, GRUMPY, FRUSTRATED, AND EXHAUSTED, but to the outside world, I had a smile on my face and my secret was hidden.

What’s POSITIVE about being unhappy? Tons! I learned no one was going to change the scenario if I didn’t.

I had to say, “I need a little help here.” I put one step in front of the other (start where you stand), and little by little, I allowed my voice to speak what I needed. That took conviction and courage. I had to block out the whining, their push back and tears; that was the hardest. It is so much easier to cave and just do it yourself. It changed our family dynamics and my life. Best thing I ever did! Even better, it sent a message to our kids that moms/dads don’t have to do it all, and shouldn’t. Each family member had a job(s). It brought about community effort, working together, and acute negotiation skills.

If we don’t ask, no one will know we need help; we’re not mind readers. What’s one area in your life you want extra help? Childcare, laundry, workload, chores, housework…the list could be endless.

Here is the secret! You have a CHOICE! And it’s all yours! You can choose to be stressed, overwhelmed, and ride the rollercoaster, or you can choose to ask. But you have to be willing to let go of expectation and perfection. Someone may not set the table, do the dishes, clean the house exactly as you wish, but here’s the point: IS THE TASK GETTING DONE? YES, yes, yes it is!!!

So take the risk and ask. You might be pleasantly surprised! And then take that extra time for YOU.

“The most important thing in life is to learn how TO GIVE OUT LOVE AND TO LET IT COME IN.”
Morrie Schwartz

As featured on ABC, NBC, CNN, and FOX News affiliates across the country, Sallie Felton is a life coach, international radio talk show host, author, facilitator, and inspirational speaker. For more on Sallie, please visit her website or follow her on Twitter.

*Photo Credit: Martin Gommel via Compfight cc