If we have a bad tooth, we go to the dentist; if our car breaks down, we go to the mechanic.
Seeking support is a sign of strength, not weakness. We all need help from time to time and it’s a sign of strength and intelligence to know when to ask for help. Someone who has skills and the right tools is an asset, not a liability.
If we have a leaky faucet and the only tool we have is a hammer, just banging on our pipes is only going to make the problem worse. The pipes burst, our basement floods and the foundation cracks. Or we could just call the plumber and they give us a new tool (called a wrench), so next time we have a leak we can fix it ourselves. We get professional support for all kinds of problems and emotions are no different.
Throughout our lives, we improve our skills by taking “courses” and practicing what we learn. If we play sports, we are coached in the basics and practice them until we succeed. At work, we are shown how to perform tasks, then get better and better as we repeat the process. We learn cooking or outdoor grilling, we follow recipes or observe someone with known abilities. Asking for help is how we learn.
But asking for help can be seen as a risk because someone can say no. Taking a risk is scary. It takes courage, and some of us are unwilling to take the risk of facing the unknown for how someone will respond.
While we cannot control others response, we are in control of the time and place we ask for something we want. Asking is not a sign of weakness or dependency. It is a matter of interdependence between two equal, imperfect human beings.
If we succeed in asking and getting what we want, then we will experience confidence and optimism next time we ask. We are prepared to enter into an appropriate give and take relationships with partners, family, friends and coworkers.
If the answer to our request is no, we have to avoid taking the “rejection” personally. The antidote is the understanding that self-respect is not conditional upon getting what we want. This is not a reflection on our worth as a person. We are a worthwhile human being whether the answer is yes or no.
We would have preferred a positive response, but we are worthwhile either way. If the negative response makes us angry, we can express our legitimate anger like a civilized human being, “It makes me angry when you won’t lend me a hand when I need you.” This is not self-pity, or a threat of revenge. It is telling the truth about ourselves even when that truth is displeasing.