What do these women have in common?

• A young mother overwhelmed with caring for both a newborn and a two year old
• A college student who realizes she is not as passionate about her major as she thought
• A manager who feels she is not connecting with those who report to her
• A daughter trying to help her aging parents who live in another state
• A new widow whose husband handled the finances in the family

As you may have guessed, they all could use some kind of assistance. Yet, how many of these women will ask for it? Help can come in many forms. The young mom could ask a friend to watch the kids for a few hours so that she could take a nap. The college student could seek the advice of a favorite professor. The manager could ask a colleague that she respects, to be her mentor. The daughter could attend a local family-caregiver support group for ideas on how to care for her parents’ needs at a distance. The newly widowed woman could ask a trusted friend to advise her on the basics of family finance and act as a sounding board for any decisions that need to be made.

Why is it so hard to ask for what we need? I have learned over the years that there are times when even the most capable among us must ask for help. At times when I needed help but didn’t ask, I wondered whether it was because I'm a woman, a first-born, or just didn't want to impose that I found it extremely difficult to turn to others for even the simplest of aid. When I examined my reluctance to request help from others, such as my friends and relatives, I came up with some heartfelt but often ridiculous reasons:

• I didn't want to appear weak, disorganized, or incapable.
• Everyone has his or her own challenges and is too busy to deal with mine.
• Asking for help would make me feel dependent.
• I didn't want to be a bother.
• It would be easier just to do things myself.

What about you? Do you find it easy or hard to turn to people who care about you and ask for their assistance when you need it? Asking for help is a skill. Many of us don't possess it. For most of us it is one we could improve upon. It would make our life so much better if we didn't hesitate to ask for help when we needed it.

Recently when a friend and I were talking about people's reluctance to ask for help, it occurred to me that we are actually doing those who care about us a favor by coming to them for assistance. You give a gift when you ask for help. The people you ask feel important, useful, and, in many cases, honored that you approached them.

Think about the last time someone asked you for help. Did you find yourself making a judgment about him or her? Probably not. Didn't your mind start clicking to what you could do? If you couldn't help, you may have even felt guilty that you didn't do your part to help your friend. How many times, when you discovered that a family member had a hardship or challenge, have you said, "Why didn’t you ask for my help?"

There may be some things that you would rather pay a stranger to do than ask friends to do. Nevertheless many other favors will give meaning to the words family and friend. The next time you are feeling overwhelmed, need advice, or a shoulder to lean on, rather than hesitate, push yourself to ask for what you need. You will not only be helping yourself but also giving the person you asked a chance to feel better too!

Author's Bio: 

Karen Rowinsky, LMSW is a licensed master level social worker. She has a private counseling practice in Overland Park in the Kansas City Metropolitan area. She specializes in working with women and couples who want to create the life they desire. You can learn about Karen's marriage counseling, family counseling, and individual counseling services by going to karenrowinsky.com.