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“Ask” is not a Four-letter Word

Asking for Assistance Beats Crying for Help
Article Text: “Ask” is not a four-letter word, so why do we act as though it is? Maybe it’s because “ask” often precedes a real four-letter word – “help.”
I shudder to recall a phase of my life when I was forced to depend on others to help me. I was thirty-three years old when a devastating auto accident injured my brain and damaged my abilities to self-assess and problem-solve. Short term memory, sequencing, and organizational deficits contributed to the constant chaos I created.

The lid to the washing machine was left open, and it agitated water most of the time, because I didn’t load the clothes into it before I took off to start something else I wouldn’t finish. The kitchen sink overflowed water onto the floor daily, because I plugged the sink, turned on the faucet, and then walked away before shutting it off. Even when applying make-up, I noticed I didn’t look quite right, but I couldn’t put my finger on how to correct it. About all I managed to decipher on my own was that I was in a quandary and completely clueless of how to develop the strategies and systems necessary to restore my capability.

We often associate asking for help as comparable to advertising our inadequacy or broadcasting our fear of not measuring up. It’s difficult to admit that we are unable to achieve our objective, or that we can’t figure it out by ourselves. What if we could change the way we perceive asking? Instead of resisting the urgency to ask for help, we might feel less inhibited if we ask for assistance.

Asking for assistance conveys self-confidence and a willingness to consider every resource available to accomplish our goals. It demonstrates we value another person’s input, expertise, or labor, and we are teachable. So then, why do we hesitate to ask for assistance? We worry that we might discredit ourselves or shake someone’s confidence in our ability if we don’t have all the answers. Realistically, people are more likely to accept our appeal as a compliment that we trust their knowledge or experience. Seeking direction demonstrates we are serious about doing our best, not that we are incapable.

Regardless, it’s our nature to try it on our own first. The key to success is recognizing and acknowledging when to solicit backup. We prefer to grind away and bury ourselves in stress, rather than concede. After we run out of ideas or time due to our stubbornness or ego, we understand that we robbed ourselves of valuable resources. We set ourselves up to risk failure, or we swallow our pride and choke out a cry for help at the last minute.

Crying for help chisels away at our self-esteem and suggests that we are inexperienced and unable to handle pressure or stress. Granted, there will be occasions when we encounter unexpected or uncontrollable circumstances, which command our rescue. But, if we establish a pattern of crying for help as a last resort, and we created our crisis due to lack of understanding, inadequate skills or sloppy planning, there comes a point in time when we can’t muster up help… and for good reason.

My personal experience proved to me that we can shorten our learning curve if we trust and accept the expertise, wisdom and help available. Overcoming my reluctance to ask for assistance, reduced my need to cry for help, lowered my stress, increased my potential for recovery, and resurrected my self-esteem.

Asking for assistance empowers our ability. It is not the behavior of a coward, rather it requires courage. With practice, asking gets easier – after the first 237 requests.

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Lois McElravy, Lessons from Lois, works with individuals and organizations who want to learn how to use the power of humor and the magic of laughter to handle the demands and pressures of work and home, adjust to constant change, deal with difficult people, cope with the unpredictable swift pace of life, product positive outcomes and have more fun.

Learning to laugh and “hangin’ on with humor” rescued Lois from the distress and despair surrounding her daily life, and initiated her recovery from a brain injury. Lois’ keynotes and trainings entertain, inspire and stimulate audiences to examine their own response to challenge and adversity. Hilarious personal stories, “Lessons from Lois” impart life-changing insights and equip participants with humor strategies and practical solutions to overcome the seriousness of their life challenges and feel happy.

Her universal message renews hope and motivates others to consistently do small things so they can achieve amazing results one day at a time.

©2012 Lois McElravy, Lessons from Lois – Permission to reprint or repost this article is granted by including the above byline and Lois’ contact information. http://www.lessonsfromlois.com