This is something that has been on my mind for a while now. I am someone who hates putting someone else out. I have to be at a pretty low point to reach out and ask for help. Not because I am strong, far from it, but because of some health issues I had as a kid, I never want to be a burden on anyone.
Yet, the reverse side is that I wish people asked for my help more. I would happily give up my Saturday to drive a friend to an appointment or a Wednesday morning to allow a new Mum to get some sleep or go for a walk while I watch her baby.
Is this a gender thing? Are guys and girls just as bad at asking for help? I am currently pregnant with my first child and I have been reading heaps of forums. So many of them have common themes such as “My baby is not sleeping, I am at my wits end but I feel I can’t ask my friends and family for help.” Are you kidding? If they are really your friends and if your family have a heart they would help you if things were that bad. People actually like to feel useful. In previous generations family and neighbours rushed in to help with child care, and the phrase “it takes a village to raise a child” has a lot of truth to it.
And it’s not just confined to child care issues. When I had my heart broken a few years prior to meeting my now husband, some days I just needed to know there was someone I could call, in tears, any time of the day. Not to get advice necessarily, but more just to vent my feelings. Or when work wasn’t going my way or I didn’t get the job I really wanted, that there was maybe someone I could call on to help me figure out the next path.
If someone suffers bereavement in their life, generally we are all good at sending kind messages, or flowers. But why is it that the bereaved person finds that a few weeks or months later everyone has forgotten or expected them to be “Over it by now”?
In summary, I think that genuine, kind and thoughtful people actually enjoy being asked to help. Sure there is a fine line between being taken advantage of, or if someone is just wallowing in self-pity for no real reason. But in times of major life upheaval (new baby, loss of a loved one etc) it is expected that you will need some help: so why be so afraid to ask for it?