The Task of the Ask


As you all know I hate asking for help. I don’t know why I’ve always found my asking questions or asking for assistance so deplorable, especially since I really do not look down on anyone who asks me for help, but I do. We’ll chalk it up my being stubborn and leave the soul searching there.

I’ve been making asking for help a new habit of mine. Not in a weird co-dependency play, but to start to understand when it is that I need external help and how to identify the appropriate time and place to ask. I have found that when I really need the help, I like asking, instead of following my old tactic–complaining to someone until they offered help.

Almost always this tactic does not work for the following reasons:

  1. I’m complaining to, and therefore asking, the wrong person
  2. I’m wearing out important people in my life (close friends, my boyfriend, my dog)
  3. I don’t know how to apply advice to my problem, again because I am going to incorrect sources
  4. I’m blowing off steam to a sympathetic party and then STILL trying to solve the problem by myself (and can’t)
  5. I realize I am complaining so I stop speaking altogether and internalize the problem and its stress

(I always find these posts funny. The ones where I admit to being a worthless human being who doesn’t know how to be an adult and then I find out that a lot of us don’t know how to adult. As Kurt Vonnegut said, “I just got here myself.” Meaning, no one’s got the answers. So even though I FEEL foolish, I’m still going to post this.)

So my terrible complaining tactic has not worked out for the reasons above and it has taken me 28 years to realize this fully. I just never knew that the difference was in simply asking for help. It’s funny what we learn when we are on our own in this world. I have been practicing my asking over the past few weeks. At first I didn’t know I was practicing! Like most stuff in my life it was not a conscious decision. I just sort of adjusted and noticed what I was doing later. And now that I am conscious of it, the real work can begin.

Here’s what I accomplished recently by asking:

  • In my writing life I started being active again in my Rich20Something entrepreneur group when I was discouraged by lack of freelance contracts and–not only discovered I wasn’t the only one in trouble–but picked up some work in the process!
  • In my office life I boldly asked for a job description change to be given more work I enjoy and found a lot of receptive parties who are helping me work towards that goal.
  • In my personal life I asked my boyfriend to watch my dog so I could go to my high school reunion last week. He did so and was so generous in accepting the task without hesitation that my heart exploded everywhere.

These are just three examples of how asking, just asking, has started to change my life in positive and glowing ways. There are still many things I do alone, and many things I can only do alone, but for the really tough stuff that I don’t have answers to, there is a community of people out there to help me.


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