Asking for support does not make us weak; it makes us wise. When we feel supported, we thrive. When we try to do it on our own, we flounder, drown, and deplete ourselves. So why can it be so hard to ask for support? Why is it that even when support shows up — whether it’s a simple act, like a man offering to take our suitcase down from the overhead bin on an airplane, or someone making a bigger offer to help us with a project or personal situation that involves the giving of time, money, or effort — we refuse or repel the support rather than receive it with grace?
This is a question I asked myself for over a decade as I researched the root reasons underneath all of the burnout, overwhelm and distress I saw so many smart, strong women under, and felt myself. Here’s what I found. Consider this:
We have become so self-sufficient as self-empowered women that we have become overly self-reliant.
- We’ve become so used to doing whatever needs doing that we don’t pause to consider that we may need help to do it.
- We don’t consider that if we don’t have the resources we need, maybe we shouldn’t take it on.
- We’ve grown so accustomed to having to fight for what we need or just barely scrape by that we’ve gotten used to making do and doing more ourselves.
We seem to be stuck in a vicious cycle in which the responsibility to do it all on our own, without sufficient support, is our reality. Like Olympic weight lifters, we’ve hoisted the burdens on our shoulders, and held it there. But truthfully, too many women are buckling at the knees, and our girls are feeling the pressure much too young.
I’ve witnessed women break bones, get sick, lose breasts, because only then, when their physical bodies broke down or got slowed down, were they forced to receive support. And even still, they resisted receiving. Needing others made them feel uncomfortable and vulnerable. Not being able to take care of themselves made them feel weak, lazy. This was not their fault, nor is it your fault if you’ve experienced a major health or life crisis that required you to receive help.
I am being blunt and real with my language because my fierce feminine heart is saying, No more, for any and all of us.
This deep imprinting against receiving support has made it almost impossible for us to receive what we need — so much unnecessary guilt, shame, judgment, and overgiving — and it’s costing us in significant, life-altering ways.
So do we begin to do things differently? Take a stand to get the support and resources we need, and if we don’t have the courage to tell others – and ourselves – then we have to change expectations and timelines?
All change starts with self-awareness, seeing what we’ve been blind to before or didn’t have words to understand or articulate. Then we can move into empowered action to do things differently.
I thought we’d start here with me sharing with you six of the 10 root reasons why women push away, rather than open to receive, the support they need. These are imprints, habits and patterns we have the power to change, without any outside permission. Then if you want to go deeper, and put this self-awareness into action, I included some ways to do that at the end.
6 Support Sabotagers Which Keep You from Receiving the Support You Need?
What follows are six root reasons, compiled from years of observation, that illuminate why you may be preventing yourself from getting the support you truly need, and deserve. Which ones might be true for you?
- You have equated not needing support with strength and needing support with weakness. It feels weak, vulnerable, or disempowering to accept support. You judge that you should be able to do it on your own.
- You believe that if you receive support, you are taking away from others or putting a burden on them. You don’t want to weigh others down with your struggle. You tell yourself that others need the support more than you. You’ll be fine.
- You do not know how to ask for what you need in a direct and healthy way. You were not taught to be empowered to ask for what you need. So you wait until you are in dire circumstances. Or you ask in distorted or disempowered ways.
- You don’t even really know what you need. You are moving so fast, doing so much, or focusing so intently on what’s going on at work, in the world, or with other people that you have not asked yourself what you need in a long time, if ever.
- You have stopped asking for what you need because in the past when you asked, you didn’t get it. You’ve experienced being met with something other than kindness, generosity, and empathy when you asked for support. It became safer and smarter not to ask.
- You have been fending for yourself for so long that you don’t trust that you can or will be supported. You’ve had to take care of yourself and others so completely that you don’t believe it can be any different.
The next step is to go into your da-to-day life and see how you are pushing away support or shouldering the burden – in how you show up at work, in relationships, in how you design your personal, professional, financial, relational and emotional life.
As you see these, start to get curious about what is underneath, at the root, of you taking on too much and receiving too little. And know you are not alone. This is a challenge for almost every woman I know. Together, we can shift this for ourselves and the generations to come.
To go deeper, check out Overwhelmed and Over It: Embrace Your Power To Stay Centered and Sustained in a Chaotic World, Chapter 8: Release: Do It On My Own. Embrace: Receive Support and Sisterhood.
Tune into this Feminine Power Time podcast: SUPPORTED! Are you receiving the support you need?
Christine Arylo, MBA, is the author of Overwhelmed and Over It. As a transformational leadership advisor, three-time bestselling author, and host of the popular Feminine Power Time podcast, she is recognized worldwide for her work helping women to make shift happen — in the lives they lead, the work they do, and the world they wish to create. Arylo offers trainings, retreats and workshops globally. Visit her online at http://www.christinearylo.com or tune into her podcast www.FemininePowerTime.com. Connect more with Christine and her community at www.femininewisdomcafe.com.
Image courtesy of Karolina Grabowska.