I'm extremely reluctant to ask for help and generally avoid situations like that. My parents raised me to be independent and encouraged me to do things on my own wherever possible. I take pride in my self-reliance and self-efficacy.
Nowadays I recognize that we all need to support each other, but my lifelong training still gets the better of me. I feel so vulnerable and only reach out for aid under duress. Consequently, it feels like a painful failure when I am turned down. I continue to struggle with the dichotomy between my misgivings and the clear necessity for help. Raising children has continuously taught me that it is impossible to survive without additional assistance.
Last week I was rushing to get to jury duty on time. My husband was also on a tight schedule to make an early morning meeting. When I walked into our small kitchen that day, I found him hurriedly and loudly unloading the dishwasher in his suit and dress shoes. One of my sons was busy heaping far too much yoghurt into a bowl, while the other was still getting dressed. I was so irritated that my husband could not see the obvious need for food at that time of day. It is not crucial for the dishwasher to be emptied at 7 a.m. I know that he was trying to help, but it didn't work at all. I managed to shoo him out of the kitchen with a terse thank you.
When I later reflected about the morning, I resolved to communicate what my needs were, instead of being opaque and resentful. Because I am unsure that my request will be granted or that I may seem to impose, I sometimes make the mistake of being unclear and attempting to manipulate the situation for a favorable outcome. I speak in a roundabout way instead of just coming out with what I need. The other person becomes suspicious, as opposed to open, and less likely to acquiesce. I was pleasantly surprised with the results when I clearly conveyed my needs that day. I texted my husband with the message that I appreciate his effort with the dishes, but in future I really would like help with breakfast. The very next morning, he was dutifully mixing yoghurt and boiling eggs!
Even though I judge myself for asking, I do not judge other people for doing so. It gives me joy to be able to help whenever I can. Being around children puts me in a position of being asked for something all the time. I am fully prepared to field their requests, may it be fetching them water or indulging an outrageous birthday present fantasy. This is simply part and parcel of my every day life. It seems completely innocuous, and most of the time there is no reason to deny them their requests.
People generally do want to lend a hand. All you have to do is ask. Allowing others to give to you is also giving them a gift because it creates a balance between giving and receiving. When you ask for help, you are signaling to others and yourself that you are ready to receive, expand, and enrich your life.
Mila Atmos is a columnist whose work has been featured by The Huffington Post, Quartz, and Medium.
If you liked this post, please share it or leave your thoughts in a comment below.