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Why is it So Hard to Ask for Help?

Two of my biggest personal challenges are admitting that I am struggling and asking for help. This has changed significantly, but it took a lot of work to get there.

According to Stanford social psychologist Xuan Zhao, asking for help can be difficult for many reasons:

  • We fear appearing “incompetent, weak, or inferior”

  • We are concerned about being rejected if we do ask for help

  • We worry about burdening or inconveniencing others

I grew up in a family where asking for help and talking about struggling wasn’t the norm, so I concluded that doing so was improper in some way. For decades, this kept me from getting help I desperately needed… From grade school through college I never approached an educator for extra help or guidance. The mere thought of raising my hand made my heart pound in my chest. In college I changed my major from a Physical Therapy track to Sociology because math scared the shit out of me and I was unable to say so and seek help. Instead, I feigned a change of interest. In my marriage I was unable to tell my partner when there was an issue. I didn’t know how. It was a skill I didn’t have. And the thought of speaking up filled me with more anxiety than the discomfort of shoving down what I needed to say.

I didn’t realize that I was fostering a really unhealthy dynamic of blowing something off on the outside while things were festering on the inside. This extended beyond my marriage and into all of my relationships… Including my relationship with myself.

What changed? A few things…

First, I became a parent. This cracked open the door to self-reflection. I began to think about how I was parented versus how I wanted to parent, and the environment I grew up in versus the environment I wanted to create for my children.

Second, I began Soma Yoga Teacher Training. This threw the door to self-reflection wide - and sometimes uncomfortably - open.

With tenets such as Svadhyaya – “self-study”, Asteya – “truthfulness”, and ahimsa – “kindness” as guiding principles. I came to realize how holding things in the way I did was unkind to myself and maintaining a level of dishonesty in my relationships.

Yoga Teacher Training wasn’t the solution to everything, but it was certainly the catalyst for becoming more curious about my beliefs, thoughts, and habits...

Why did I do the things I did? Why did I believe the things I did? Whose ideas/ideals was I living by? And were these things truly serving me in my life? In addition, yoga deepened my sense of being connected to all people and helped me to realize that we all struggle with the same challenges, worries, and uncomfortable feelings. I think Yoga Teacher Training was so impactful because of its duration and intensity. It was like self-discovery boot camp. So, yes, I used to think that I was supposed to go it alone. However, research shows that people are far more willing to help than we assume, and there are plenty of studies that demonstrate the benefits for those who help us.

Now, I understand that the vulnerability needed to ask for help and tell people when we’re suffering or struggling is a strength not a weakness, and that doing so has the potential to open lines of communication, deepen relationships, and make us more empathetic human beings. I am here to help you feel centered, calm, and oh-so-strong! Try a class or contact me to arrange a consultation or private session.

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