It’s Ok To Ask For Help

I’ve never been very good at asking for help, and I blame my parents for this. With the best of intentions, they brought us kids up to be polite, and not ask for things. It was one of the most repeated mantras of my childhood. ‘Don’t ask for anything! Wait until you are offered!’ I can see why they drummed this into us. They didn’t want their children to be brattish or demanding. They thought children who marched into someone’s house and asked for an ice lolly were rude. I can clearly remember playing in the garden at my Nan and Grandad’s house on various hot summer days. We knew the ice creams were kept in the chest freezer in the cellar. We knew our doting Nan would give us one if we asked, but we didn’t dare. We kept egging each other on, urging one of us to go and ask for an ice cream. I expect we worked up the nerve eventually, but it definitely took some time!

Not asking for things in sweet shops and toy shops was the norm. My mum would have given us ‘the look’ if we had ever dared. She always said it was much nicer to give a child something they had not been expecting. But the trouble is, not asking for treats becomes translated by a child into not asking for anything, including help. Take me in the classroom, all the way through my education, too scared to put my hand up for any reason, including going to the toilet!

I’ve had a problem with asking for help my entire life. I hate asking anyone for anything. If I have any kind of problem, I will do everything I can to try to solve it on my own, before I give in and reach out for a helping hand. It really is quite ridiculous. I can’t help assuming that asking for help annoys the person you are asking, puts them out, or means they will begrudge you.

This has also made things harder as an indie writer. Indie writers cannot do it all alone. They just can’t. But in the beginning, this was how I approached things. I struggled with so many aspects of indie publishing, from formatting, to cover design, to marketing, to gaining reviews, and I was absolutely rubbish at asking for help! I truly didn’t want to bother people.

Fast forward four years and six books later and I am beginning to change my mindset. For my sixth book, The Tree Of Rebels, I actually had a book launch.  I wasn’t quite brave enough to do a real life one, so I opted for a Facebook one and thoroughly enjoyed it. I was amazed by the response and the positive results of sales, reviews and follows. I’ve also started asking for help more by sending out ARC’s for the first time ever. I would never have done this before, but now I am trying to live with the mantra; ‘if you don’t ask, you don’t get!’ Out of the 45 people I asked, 31 responded positively, and I have received 18 reviews on Amazon UK and 6 on Amazon US. This has without a doubt given this sixth book a far bigger kick into orbit than the others have, and I will learn from this and do an even bigger and better book launch next time!

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Learning to ask for help is not easy when it has been indoctrinated into us to be polite. Last week was a really hectic one for me work-wise. I had all the normal bits to do and a rather big dog walking/sitting job as well. I love my day-job as a dog walker and sitter, but I’ve only gone back to it fairly recently as it was too tricky to combine with my youngest when he was first born. Last week I was so busy walking back and forth, that my blog post didn’t get written or posted and I only managed to scrape in an hour or two of editing Elliot Pie each day. There was one day in particular when I had a lot of walking to do, washing to hang out, a parcel to post that had been sitting there for weeks, washing up to do and God knows what else. Instead of trying to do everything myself and then getting grumpy, I reached out to the kids and got them to help. Two took the parcel to the post office and one hung out the washing, and wow, what a difference it made just having those two jobs crossed off the list! I felt I could breathe again and calm down and it made me realise how rubbish I am at asking for help at home too.

I do what my mum used to do. I do everything myself get worn out, feel unappreciated and then moan about it! I must stop doing this! I have four children and the oldest three are more than capable of helping out. If it involves the animals, they jump at the chance anyway, so why the hell am I trying to do it all by myself? Again, I think the reluctance to delegate chores goes back to being told not to ask for things as a child.

I don’t want my children to grow up unable to ask for help, so I am trying to set them a good example now. I’ve told them all about the amazing response I had when asking for help to launch the latest book. I want them to see that asking for help doesn’t make you weak, or needy, or annoying. Yes, you should strive to be independent and proactive, but when you genuinely need help from others, you should not feel ashamed to ask for it. And it makes such a huge difference!

Have you ever found it hard to ask for help? How did you overcome this? I would love to hear from you! Please feel free to comment and share.

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11 thoughts on “It’s Ok To Ask For Help

  1. I love your honesty. I was brought up in a similar fashion as a child, but in latter years I was taught to make the most of the people you know. It isn’t like demanding a hairband in a shop (I wouldn’t have dared either!) in the slightest.
    It’s more akin to identifying and embracing the talents of those around you. And it will usually, even in the smallest way, be a two way thing.
    I’ve learnt that we could and should exchange talent over money.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks 🙂 You’re completely right. If you are surrounded by people who could possibly help you with something, why not ask? I am getting better. I still hate to bother people, but more often than not I am overwhelmed by how lovely people can be, so that makes it easier to ask the next time!

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  2. I was brought up the same too. Even from quite a young age, when asked what I’d like for Christmas, I often asked for what I thought my parents could afford, rather than my first choice.

    As an adult I find it very hard to ask for help. I really struggle to do it, and like you, will try to achieve most tasks and solve problems on my own, and only ask for help if I’ve exhausted all other options. Asking for help feels like a weakness. Having ME, I have been forced to ask my husband for help when I’m most ill, but it’s not something that comes naturally at all, as I’m rubbish at delegating.

    I don’t think it’s a completely bad thing though, as in a way it has made me a better person. I’ve always had to work hard for the things I have, rather than have them given to me, so I appreciate them more. I’m also very determined, self-disciplined, not very materialistic at all.

    I sometimes wish I was better at asking for help though. I don’t know why I see it as such a bad thing, when at the same time I’m always happy to help others, so why do I feel awkward and worried that others won’t be happy to help me?! xxx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for the comment, Jules 🙂 I was the same at birthdays and Christmas! It then felt really awkward to be asking for something, when all year round we were told not to! And I’d worry about the money too. I still do it now if anyone asks what I want for Christmas or anything. It’s just so awkward! And yes, you’re right, it is odd that we don’t like asking for help but are all too happy to help others?

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  3. This is me! I hate asking for help (in relation to my writing especially).

    I reached out to a friend recently and asked for transport somewhere because he had said ‘you never ask’ as if he wanted me to. I think he was pleased when I did. So that was a lesson. People do sometimes want to be asked and to feel needed and valued. But I always pay people for their costs anyway and so then I feel as if I’m giving something back.

    With writing though, it’s a lot harder. I can only ask people who eg do review blogs but just don’t feel confident at all that I’ll get any response from asking people for reviews. Maybe it’s because I have so many books now I feel I would be imposing with yet another book. I admire you though for breaking through that and changing your mindset and it has paid off. Hats off to you 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Kate. Yes, I never thought I would try the whole ARC thing. I had read about it lots of times and how worthwhile it was. But then I just thought, the worst that can happen is they say no or ignore the email. It doesn’t hurt to ask, especially if worded really nicely. And so many people were only to happy to help out, it really surprised me! Will definitely do it again 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes, that’s great! I think that’s my fear – they will ignore the email and I’ll feel I’m imposing! The other reason why I don’t ask is that I feel often as if I’m unable to give in return due to health problems and so I’ll feel I’ll be letting others down.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. This is so familiar! I’m terrible at asking for help, and always think I’ll be putting people out if I do ask. I make life far harder for myself than it needs to be.

    Someone said about my family, “You’d get run over by a bus, then ask if the bus was okay.” And while it’s all well and good to be strong and self-sufficient, it’s entirely impossible to be that way all the time. It’s exhausting and ultimately damaging to try and do everything yourself.

    Although I’m absolutely still trying to convince myself of that, and to stop apologising profusely for bothering people every time I do manage to ask for help…!

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  5. I know, I am so the same!! I will try and think up any way out of a problem possible, including things totally ridiculous, to avoid asking for help! The amount of times I have walked a stupidly long distance instead of asking for a lift, for example! I’m getting better though, well at least when it comes to my writing and marketing 🙂

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  6. I have to admit as I was brought up by my mum on her own for a little while I was very well looked after as we lived with my Nan and Grandad too. I got so much support and help I didn’t have to ask, but getting help without asking, meant when it came to the point of actually asking for help, I was too scared to do it. It was something I had never had to do at the early start of my childhood, but when I got older I didn’t like to ask. I’m still like that now and often worry that I may be putting people out. I should get out of that mindset really.

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  7. Thanks for reading Debbie! Gosh it sounds like so many of us have trouble asking for help! I’ve been really pleased to discover how kind and helpful the writing community often is though. I hope others find the same!

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