“I don’t want to inconvenience anyone.”
“I should be able to do it myself.”
“What will people think of me?”
When you consider asking for help, do any of the above thoughts cross your mind?
If so, you’re not alone.
In fact, these are the three most common objections I hear from clients when they think about asking for help.
And on episode 108 of the I’m Busy Being Awesome podcast, we dig into why these hesitations come up and how we can best navigate them.
So if you’re someone who’s uncomfortable asking for help or you want to increase your comfort level even further, episode 108 has your name on it.
Listen to the episode below, or stream it on your favorite podcasting app here:
Prefer to read? No problem! Keep scrolling for the entire podcast transcript.
Listen To The Podcast Here!
In This Episode, You Will Discover…
- Why we struggle with asking for help.
- Different ways to think about asking for help.
- How we can start asking for help with confidence.
Links From The Podcast
- Sign up for your free consultation with me here
- Listen to episode 96 here
- Learn my top 6 strategies to boost your focus and concentration (free training)
- Get the top 10 tips to work with your ADHD brain (free ebook!)
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Episode #108: How to Ask For Help With Confidence (Transcript)
You’re listening to that I’m Busy Being Awesome podcast with Paula Engebretson episode number 108. Hello everybody. How are you? How’s your week?
If you are someone who listens to this podcast with headphones on or you have a particularly keen sense of hearing, I may sound a little bit different on the podcast today because this is the first time I haven’t edited it myself. I finally just handed it off to someone who actually knows what they’re doing, which is pretty darn exciting. And since their editing and mixing process is probably much more advanced than my “click around and hope it works” approach, I’m guessing the sound may be a little different. and the reason why I am mentioning this is that it ties in with the topic of today’s s episode, which is all about asking for help.
As I’ve mentioned on the podcast before, these episodes are often inspired by either a conversation with a client, or common themes that I see coming up with a lot of people, or things happening in my life personally. And this episode speaks to all three of those categories, which I took as a sign that asking for help is probably on the radar for quite a few of you right now. And if it’s not, perhaps that’s due to one of the reasons we’re going to talk about in the episode.
So today we are digging into why so many of us feel uncomfortable asking for help. then we’re going to explore the three key areas where I see this often popping up for folks. And then I’m going to share some of my own thoughts and approaches within each of these areas in case you want to borrow any of my thoughts the next time you choose to ask for help.
Why We Struggle To Ask For Help
So first of all, let’s talk about why we struggle to ask for help. I tend to see three main thought patterns come up time and time again with my clients and with myself. The first one is some flavor of “I should be able to do this myself.” The second one is “I don’t want to inconvenience someone else.” And the third is “if I ask for help, people are going to think … enter all of the negative judgments here.” And from these thoughts, we often get to experience the lovely feelings of awkwardness, reluctance, insecurity, and even anxiousness. Super fun, right?
So let’s dive into these thoughts more specifically. And as we explore them, I encourage you to think about whether you notice yourself having similar beliefs when it comes to asking for help.
I Should Do This Myself
The first thought I offered was some version of, I should be able to do this myself. We tell ourselves we should be self-sufficient. We should be capable. And we should be able to handle the situation or the project or the responsibilities ourselves. And of course, anytime we bring in that sneaky word “should,” it often brings with it feelings of guilt, shame, inadequacy, all the lovely warm and fuzzy feelings we love so much.
So we think to ourselves some version of, “I should just do it myself.” And then we feel shame or inadequate, and so we keep taking on more. We don’t speak up or ask for help. And when we don’t get the support we need, and we’ve taken on too much, we usually don’t show up the way that we’d like to. Our plate is overflowing, and we can’t give the different areas in our life our full attention since we’re pulled in so many different directions. And for my fellow perfectionist out there, you probably then use that as a reason to beat yourself up for not being able to do everything. So not only do you feel terrible because you think you should do it all yourself, but then when you can’t do it all yourself, you make it mean something about you and your capabilities. sound familiar?
I know this was a big one for me as an ADHDer. I’d tell myself, I should be able to do all of these things just like a neurotypical brain. I should be able to work as fast. Things shouldn’t be this challenging. I shouldn’t ask for help, because that would show I’m not capable enough. All the lovely thoughts, right?
And I hear different versions of the same idea from everyone – whether you have ADHD or not – in regard to doing things yourself. Maybe you think yourself, I should be able to handle this… I could do it before I had kids. I should be able to do it now. Or I was able to manage the house and the kids before I had this job. SoI should be able to make this work, too. I should be able to handle it all myself. I shouldn’t have to ask for help.
Should, should, should.
I Don’t Want To Inconvenience Someone
Another reason why so many of us struggle with asking for help, as I mentioned, is some version of the thought “ I don’t want to inconvenience someone else.” In fact, this is the thought that the brain usually offers after we manage to get ourselves past the belief that “I should be able to do it myself.”
So maybe we finally convinced ourselves, “okay. Maybe I don’t have to do everything myself.” But then the brain says, but I don’t want to ask because it’ll probably be awkward. I don’t want someone to be inconvenienced. They might think they have to say yes, and then they’ll be annoyed or frustrated. And we end up talking ourselves out of asking for help. We convince ourselves that whether or not we ask someone for help can impact what they think and feel.
But if you’ve been listening to the podcast for a while, you know that’s not possible. We are the circumstance in everyone else’s model. What we ask is neutral. And everybody else has their own thoughts and feelings about it. We can’t make someone feel awkward. What we do is a neutral circumstance, which the other person has thoughts and feelings about generated by their own brain.
This is why you could ask someone to help you with organizing a fundraiser, and you could ask another person that same question, and those two people will likely have very different thoughts and feelings about it. The question remains the same. But it’s what they choose to think and feel about it that creates their experience. In fact, you could ask the same question to the same person on different days, and depending on what they’re choosing to think and feel that day, their own experience will be different.
Think about if your kids asked you to take them for ice cream in the middle of the afternoon. If you are hard at work and you’re in flow on a project, and then they come in to your office and interrupt you and beg for you to take them to the ice cream, you may have one set of thoughts and feelings. Maybe you think, “I don’t have time for this.” And you feel frustrated or annoyed. And other times — let’s say you are just hanging out. Or maybe you’re working, but you’re actually really bored and looking for distractions. If your kids come and ask you the same question, you may think to yourself, “Heck yes! This is the perfect time for ice cream.” And you feel willing and excited to go.
So you are not inconveniencing someone. And you are not creating an awkward situation. Remember, as humans, we get to choose. If you ask someone for help, they can say no. And if you feel awkward about it, it’s only because of your own thoughts about the situation. It’s only because you’re thinking to yourself, I’m inconveniencing them. Or they probably don’t want to. Or they’re going to feel obligated. But again, these are just thoughts your choosing. And you can absolutely choose a different thought. And as I mentioned at the beginning, I’m going to give some examples I choose to think later on in the episode.
What Will People Think?
But before we get to examples, let’s talk about the third reason why we often want to avoid asking for help. And this is some version of the thought, “what will people think?” We often tell ourselves that people will judge us if we ask for help. We think people will judges for being lazy, or needy, or incapable. And we tell ourselves all sorts of stories as we jump into Fantasyland and assume that we can predict what everybody else thinks.
Now there are lots of different levels in this category; there’s a lot to explore and unpack here. And we won’t go into all of that today. But what I will offer, is that often when our brain worries about what others will think of us, it’s often a mirror. Whatever we are projecting on someone else – whether it’s “they will think I’m lazy. They will think I’m incapable. Or they will think I can’t handle that all.” Often times those concerns are really what we are thinking about ourselves. But our brain is playing a trick on us and projecting it on someone else.
Seriously, test me on this one. Think about one of the thoughts your brain offers you about other people that sounds like, “they probably think I’m…” And then get honest with yourself. Do you think this about yourself? If this sounds like something you might be doing, I highly recommend skipping back to episode 96, which takes a deep dive into this concept of mirroring.
But for today, just know that one of the reasons why we don’t ask for help is because we’re so worried about what other people think. And what we often forget is that we don’t know what other people think. Instead, many times it’s our own judgments and insecurities hiding underneath.
Now if that’s not the case, and you don’t have your own judgments or insecurities underneath, then it’s important to ask yourself — why does it matter to me? Why am I worried about what they think?
Here’s the deal, people will absolutely think things. We — as humans — make judgments all the time. So if they make a judgment about you, so what? If you genuinely don’t believe it, then what does your brain offer as the worst-case scenario?
One of my favorite thoughts to practice in this situation is, “people can be wrong about me. That’s okay.” If I know what’s true for me, and somebody else has a different thought about me, that’s okay. Let them be wrong. And frankly, this is a whole podcast episode in itself – memo to me.
But for now. If you have a concern about what other people will think when you ask for help, first answer the question. What do you think they think about you? Then ask yourself, is this true? Is it true that I can’t handle it? Is it true that I’m incapable? Or whatever thought your brain offers you – ask yourself: is this true? If the answer is no – which I’m guessing 99.9% of the time it will be – then let them be wrong about you. I got to tell you, it’s pretty empowering when you make that decision.
All right. So we’ve talked about the three main reasons why we struggle to ask for help. We tell ourselves some version of, “I should be able to do this myself.” Then we usually follow that up with the thought, “I don’t want to inconvenience someone.” And once we get past that, then we usually slip into fear of judgment. We worry about what other people will think of us when we ask.
So here’s the first question. Where do you notice yourself in these three areas? Which thoughts does your brain offer you most often? Or do you hear all three? By identifying the main reasons why you struggle with asking for help, you’ve opened up the first door where you can coach yourself or get coaching. Why am I choosing these thoughts? Are they serving me? Are they helping me create the result that I all differently want? If not, it might be time to start practicing something different.
Asking For Help
So what are the different areas where we struggle to ask for help? perhaps the most common is generally asking someone else for assistance whether it’s asking someone for help at home, at work, when you’re out and about, whatever. And in this category, you tend to hear all three of the thought patterns that we explored already. .
So maybe you want to ask for help finishing a work project. And you start by thinking to yourself, I should be able to just do this myself. And then you might slip into, plus I don’t want to inconvenience anyone. Everyone else is so busy. I don’t want to be a bother. And then from there, your brain may slip into worst-case-scenario thinking, “Plus. What will they think? They’ll think I can’t get it all done. They will think I’m dropping the ball. They’ll think I can’t do my job well.”
And because we spin in all of these worst-case scenarios, we don’t ask for help. We are entirely too uncomfortable – whether we feel awkward or ashamed or inadequate – to ask for help. And so we scramble to do the work ourselves. We end up inconveniencing ourselves. We judge ourselves for not being able to do it fast enough. And chances are, if you are under a deadline and really time-crunched, you’re probably not doing your best work since you’re slammed with too much stuff. So not only would asking for help make things better for you, but it would make things better for the team, too! But because you have all of these stories and beliefs you’re telling yourself, you don’t ask.
As I mentioned before, we tend to forget the fact that people have their own agency. They can say no. It doesn’t have to be awkward. You are simply asking for help. And while it’s not necessary, you can absolutely offer a disclaimer or “easy out” ahead of time. Please don’t feel obligated to say yes. But I’m wondering if you would have time to XYZ. Would you have an hour to go over this spreadsheet? Could you help me finish these slides? I have about 10 left to do.
A friend of mine did this just today. She sent me a text asking if I would pick up some books and ship them to her. She said to me, “I have a request, but please don’t feel any pressure to say yes. I can absolutely ask someone else as well. But if you have the time and the flexibility and are willing, would you be able to pick up some books this weekend and ship them to me?” She gave me space to say no. But she also made the request. And I knew that if I couldn’t fit it into my schedule, I could say no and it would be fine. But I also know that I had time this weekend, and I am happy to do it. It’s no problem.
Now, she wouldn’t have known this if she got stuck in the thought, “I’m going to inconvenience her. This could be really awkward.” instead, she was willing to feel uncomfortable, ask me for the favor, and remind herself that I can absolutely say no. I’m the one who gets to decide if it’s inconvenient. And if it was, I would have told her. Not a problem.
Most recently, I have found myself needing tons of help from my husband in sticking with my bedtime routine. I think I’ve talked about this on the podcast before, but my bedtime routine is a struggle for me. I have a love-hate relationship with it, and sometimes I’m doing really well with it and sometimes not so much. And recently, I have been pushing back my bedtime more and more.
And finally, I said to Ryan, please help me get to bed. I can’t seem to do it on my own. And since he’s a night owl and stays up super late, it’s not a problem. So now he gives me a 15-minute warning before it’s time for me to head up to bed. And then he’ll even remind me again about five minutes after I’ve passed the Bedtime if I hadn’t gone up yet. Now I could have told myself, I should be able to do this on my own. I’m not a child. What is my deal? Why can’t I go to bed when I want to? But rather than shaming myself, I just asked for help. And now I’m getting more sleep. Yes, please.
Another area where people tend to struggle with getting help comes in the form of hiring help. This might look like getting cleaners or hiring someone to cut your lawn. It might look like getting child care or having someone come fix something rather than you fixing it yourself. And once again, these sneaky thoughts of “ I should be able to do this myself” come in. I should be able to take care of cleaning the house myself. I should be able to cut the lawn myself. Or I should be able to take care of my kids or watch this YouTube video and fix this thing myself.
Or maybe we tell ourselves, I shouldn’t spend my money in this way. When I can do it myself, I shouldn’t waste my money on getting help. Or we might take that one step further and say I’m not a good wife if I can’t keep the house clean. or I’m a terrible homeowner if I can’t fix this or keep up with the lawn or whatever other mean thoughts your brain offers you.
And this doesn’t have to be a financial situation either. I’ve had clients tell themselves they shouldn’t ask for help from their parents to watch their kids for date night. They shouldn’t ask Grandma and Grandpa to watch the grandkids because they should be able to figure out how to navigate it themselves or they should figure out a babysitter or whatever.
And I get it. I think many people who are high achievers and goal-getters have instilled the persona of hard-working. We believe we need to do it ourselves. We need to figure it out. And we should be able to do it all.
These are thoughts that I’ve certainly told myself over and over and over. And in fact, as I mentioned at the beginning of this episode, that’s exactly what I thought to myself with my podcast editing. I can do this myself. I should be able to do it all on my own. It’s my business. Plus, I had the very mistaken belief that nobody else can do it like me. I’m very particular.
And then I started questioning these beliefs. Hold on. It takes me something like 3 hours to do what a professional can probably do in about an hour. Plus, then I can get back to what I do best, which is coaching my clients and creating more content to share with all of you. Plus, they actually know what they’re doing and probably do it a whole lot better. So why not work in my areas of strength and let others whose strengths are in sound production mix and edit the podcast? Done.
Asking For Support
And the last area that I want to talk about today was inspired by a couple of different client conversations I’ve had recently, and they revolve around asking for support from friends or family or their community. And what I mean by that, is asking your friends to share your Facebook post about your business. Or asking your sister to share your blog post. Or maybe it’s asking your customers for testimonials. Maybe your kid has some fundraiser for school or some extracurricular something, and they really want you to bring the form to work and ask your colleagues to buy wrapping paper or whatever it is they’re selling. And even though people do it all the time at work, you feel really reluctant to do it.
Again, it’s those same thoughts that come up. And in this situation, it’s often different flavors of “I don’t want people to feel obligated or awkward.” Or, “what will people think if I ask? What will they think of me?” I see this most often with my clients who have small businesses or side hustles or they share their arts for their creativity with people. This can feel vulnerable. And for many people just getting started, asking for help supporting you and your business or your ideas or your work often has many thoughts wrapped up in it. We tend to put a lot more meaning on it than asking someone to buy your kid’s popcorn for a school fundraiser.
But regardless, it’s SO important to remember that it’s all of the thoughts your brain offers you about asking for help that feels so uncomfortable. (Remember, asking someone is a neutral circumstance. All of the discomfort comes from your thoughts.) And it’s so powerful when we remind ourselves that people can always say no. Or they can ignore your email. Or they can scroll by your post. That option is always available to them.
And because I’ve been there before, I also choose to believe that it’s not about me when people say no. I don’t make it about me or my work if people don’t say yes to a request or don’t think to share something. In fact, I choose to believe that most people are just so busy in their own lives that even if they do you want to support, they just forgot.
I think about that with this very podcast. I have thousands of downloads every month. There are so many of you amazing listeners tuning in, which I LOVE SO MUCH. And every once in a while, I ask for your help by writing a podcast review. I ask that you open your podcast app, hit the little follow or subscribe button and leave a rating and a review. Preferably five stars would be amazing.
And even though I ask for help, I don’t make it mean anything about me or the podcast if people don’t. I just make it mean that you are all busy amazing humans running around being awesome while listening to the podcast. And because of this, you’re probably not in a good place to pause and write the review. No sweat.
BUT since I’m mentioning this right now, I am going to take a minute and say, would you be a rockstar and leave me a review? And if you are indeed out and about, would you ask Siri to remind you to leave a review later on when you’re back at home? Because when you leave a rating and review, you’re letting the podcast platform – whether it’s apple podcasts or wherever you listen – know that the content that I offer here is helpful. It lets them know to recommend the podcast to more people.
So it would be AMAZING if you would help me help others by leaving a review after listening to this episode about how to ask for help. I mean honestly. that would just be an incredibly meta and a super fun way to send good help Karma out into the world. So thank you in advance for your help.
So this week, here’s what I invite you to do. Check-in with yourself. Take note of where you WANT to ask for help, but you’re not. Where could you benefit from support in some way? Then ask yourself, why am I not asking for this help? What’s holding me back? Are you telling yourself you should be able to do it yourself? Are you telling yourself you don’t want to inconvenience someone else? Or are you worried about what other people might think of you when you ask? Get really clear on why you are holding yourself back from asking for support.
And then dig a little deeper by asking yourself, do I like my reasons? Do I like my reasons for why I am not asking for help and getting the support I need? If you don’t like your reasons, then I encourage you to make the ask. What’s the worst thing that could happen? I’ll tell you. And I want you to listen close here, because it just might explode your brain. Are you ready?
The worst thing that can happen is they’ll say no. And you’ll be exactly where you are right now. Except that you’ll have built up the confidence in yourself to know that you can put yourself out there. The worst thing that can happen is that you are exactly where you are right now. So take a chance. Make the ask. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain.