We’ve all been there. We’ve all needed help and wished someone would see our need and feel compelled to fill it. We do so much for others without asking for anything in return and wish our efforts would be validated when we need assistance.
Don’t Expect Others to Read Your Mind
This simply isn’t practical and is a root cause for many of the issues that come out on a therapist’s couch. In order to receive help, we need to actually articulate our need and get specific about it. We can’t expect anyone to read our mind.
The truth is that only a very small segment of the population can be micro focused enough to see when someone needs help and be able to make things easier without being prompted. The theory called The Diffusion of Responsibility states that people are less likely to take responsibility and do something if others are present. There is a sense that someone else will surely step in and take the lead. Without the ask, the need remains unmet.
There are several things that can block us from asking for help.
- Being Overwhelmed
The most effective course of action to get support is knowing what you want, being prepared for help, and asking for help.
Know what you want.
You may know you want help cleaning the house, and you likely have a running list in your head of the chores that could be done. In order to ask for help, your recruits will need to know which chores need to be covered and what your expectations are for their completion. The more specific you are about what you need, the better.
Be prepared for help.
Have what you need on hand for the people supporting you. Do you need any physical items to get the help you need? Will the people supporting you need resources in order to help out? Know what is needed to get the job done and be ready with it when the time comes. You may have a running list in your head of what it takes to get the task completed, but that info has got to be transferred to the people helping you out.
Ask for help.
Be direct. This doesn’t mean being forceful, bossy, or rude. Just be direct.
When life feels overwhelming, we may need a hug – and we will certainly need help. Confusing the need for emotional support with material support can be dangerous. If you need help, understand that people can’t read your mind and will likely be supportive if you know what you need, are prepared for them to help, and you ask them directly for their help.
Asking Out Loud Helps You Figure Out What You Really Want
Asking out loud helps you figure out what you want, because there is someone else in the conversation to ask clarifying questions that require you to sort through the issue and get very clear on what you need in the way of help.
Having someone to process with you isn’t the only way to verbally sort through and identify what you really want. You can have a conversation with yourself when no one else is available. Speaking and processing out loud is no different than practicing a speech or public speaking. The more you hear your own voice, the better you can identify with what is being said. Things always sound clearer when spoken aloud than when heard in our minds.
Good Things Happen When You Start to Ask for What You Want
There is power in asking for what you want. It forces you to know yourself, what you prefer, and what you need. This clarity makes it possible to have a life filled with things you like, and the support that makes life easier and fun.
The result of asking for what you want is a ripple effect of good things that begin to materialize in your life. A satisfaction builds from living a fulfilled life by being direct and articulate about your needs.
People who don’t ask for what they want struggle with three things consistently:
Feeling unsupported – People who don’t ask for what they want feel unsupported by those closest to them at home and at work. They feel like they are always giving and compromising, while never having what they want. This is true: because no one knows what they want.
Being a martyr – This characteristic is found in people who will grudgingly support others’ decisions while sacrificing their own personal desires. This is a psychological complex based on repeating patterns that places oneself in a victim role. People can sense your underlying anger and resentment and will naturally avoid being in relationship with someone who acts like this.
Being passive aggressive – Without the ability to ask for what they want, people can resort to silently aggressive or sabotaging behavior to leak out their frustrations without a face-to-face confrontation. This behavior perpetuates the anger they feel and can cause rifts in relationships.
Being able to ask for what you want helps remove these struggles and makes it possible to have higher quality relationships and personal satisfaction.
5 Tips for Making It Easier to Ask for What You Want
Asking for what you want may feel uncomfortable and awkward sometimes, which may mean you try to avoid it no matter how badly you want help. But practice will give you the experience and confidence to take bolder steps and be more assertive with your asks. Before you start shooting for the moon asking for what you want, consider these 5 tips.
Knowing yourself is a form of confidence. Knowing who you are, what makes you tick, and what your strengths and your weaknesses are gives you a firm foundation to know where you are coming from with your ask. The more you know about yourself, and the more self-aware you are about your limitations, the better you can be at interpersonal relationships.
Striving to be whole and healthy reduces our negative traits like arrogance, aggression, and playing the victim. People who know themselves well are decisive and self-assured. They ask for help when they need it and are less likely to be unnecessarily needy or over-reliant. This increases the likelihood they will get what they want and what they need.
Be consistent with your expectations. Those in relationship with you will be able to better predict your behavior and may be more able to help without being asked. If you consistently ask for help unloading the car full of groceries – and show cheerful gratitude for their help – before long, the family will start meeting you at the car when you pull in.
People value us for what we value. If you want your opinions and desires to matter, be aware of the opinions and desires of others. Be inclusive, communal, and concerned about the needs of those around you but not at the expense of your own.
Be unattached to the outcome.
Asking for help and not ending up receiving it can be a bummer, but it is also an important part of reality. Sometimes people can’t help. Sometimes they won’t. Being able to regroup, move on, and either ask someone else or find a different solution is the key. Don’t let yourself be crushed and turn a rejection into personal pain.
Practice asking. Try small, safe asks and work up to big, bold asks whenever you can. This can be like learning a new language. Asking has its own way about it, and over time you will get the hang of it.
These tips will ensure you have the foundation and the mindset you need to ask for what you want and build wonderful relationships. You’ll be living a life where asking and being asked go hand in hand.