How to Ask for Help

Years ago when I was struggling with something, a wise woman once told me, “It takes a really strong person to ask for help.” That saying has stayed with me through the years and every time I know that I can’t manage on my own with COPD I return to that thought.

When I went to her for advice, I didn’t want to ask for help. I was adamant.

I had this notion that if I couldn’t do it all, no matter the challenges, I was weak and lazy.

I thought I should be able to handle everything myself. Would people even be able or want to help me? How could I go about requesting aid? This wasn’t something easily done in my mind.

The key,” my friend told me, “is that people actually like to help. They want to help. By reaching out to them, you can empower them.” For some reason it was a new concept to me. But when my loved ones are going through crisis or illness, I want to help them. I feel powerless when I can’t. And I never think of them as weak or lazy, especially when the circumstances are beyond their control (like getting sick is). So wouldn’t they feel the same about me?

Now,” my friend advised, “you can’t just call someone or post on social media that you need help and leave it at that. People will offer, but most times have no idea what kind of help you need…

 …So be very specific about what you need…

Give them the time, day, and a very specific task they could do for you and you will probably find that your friends will do it. So, for example, you would ask “Bob” to cook a couple of meals that you could freeze and then thaw and eat on a day you’re not up to making dinner. You could ask “Lawana” to help you pick tomatoes in your garden on Tuesday around noon. Most people have no trouble doing those kinds of small but very helpful tasks, and some like to help with larger tasks too, such as taking you grocery shopping.

The last piece of advice that my friend gave me was, “Ask politely and to make sure your loved ones know you were grateful for their service. Demanding help or barking orders at people isn’t very persuasive…

…Friends like to feel needed, but not used…

After they have done what you needed, make sure you send a note or an email thanking them.

After our conversation, I went home and contemplated everything that she had told me. I made a list of things I needed help with and divided it into smaller doable tasks. I finally felt ready to take the big step, and as my friend suggested, I gathered my courage and asked. I asked for help from loved ones, friends, my spiritual community, and my medical team.

And, boy, did they come to my aid!

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