Help (Really, Sort-Of, But Often Maybe Not Really) Wanted

I know from my own experience of reading blogs that I generally expect the voice behind the screen to TELL me something, to clarify or assist me in understanding. Which builds a sort of weight into the fact that I’m a blogger myself.

I do try to live up to that sort of expectation. I look at larger issues – mainly atheism, sometimes politics, but lately also Beta Culture – so I can present more understandable or balanced analyses of each subject for readers.

At the same time, I’m also very much at sea on certain important aspects of life. Sometimes I feel like an alien dropped down into human society, trying to figure out why people do what they do, what I need to do to understand them, or fit in.

So I’m asking for some input. I’m hoping you’ll read this and reply, offering advice or perspective that will help me better understand this particular life skill. So:

How do you feel about accepting help from others?

As for me, I love GIVING people help, but I find it almost impossible to accept it. I feel guilty when I do, so I usually don’t allow people to help me. And yet, sometimes, I think I’m making a mistake by not accepting, or even asking for, help.

The danger, of course, is that you can become a manipulative leech about it. We all know some of them, and damn, I never want to be one. On some level, I feel I’ve consumed my lifetime’s share of other people’s energy, money, concern, etc. I tend to think adults should be givers of help rather than takers.

But the other danger is that it’s very difficult to get anything done without other people involved. If you DON’T ask, DON’T get others involved, you’ll be sharply limited in the things you can accomplish.

I’ve known since I was a kid that certain of my plans and goals will forever go wanting because 1) I can’t do them all by myself and 2) I can’t bring myself to ask for help.

Face it, when the thing you want to do requires an organization of people, but you’re habitually a one-man team, nothing happens past the idea stage.

You also close off certain possibilities of closeness. If you turn down offers of help or other sorts of gifts – which are usually, on some level, offers of closeness – you disappoint and distance the giver.

Your thoughts?

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  • Karen

    I’ too, hate accepting help, and love giving it. But it’s part of the human condition to need help from time to time. We sometimes have to suck it up and cry “help”!

  • Dorothy Grasett

    How do you feel when you are the person giving help, Hank? Validated, worthy, needed? We all improve when we give help. And to give, someone must be on the receiving end.
    I have two excerpts from my own life – I tend to be too generous – if I can manage and someone else needs, I will do my darnedest. And sometimes the person given to feels overwhelmed. I overheard someone saying “How do you respond to that?” The answer given was – “Just say thank you.” I usually say “when you can, pass it forward.”
    Now that I have trouble moving, I rely on others to help me with doors and bundles. I always say thank you – emphatically and with feeling.
    I am now the one receiving. I try to remember how it felt to be the one to whom thanks was given, and give them in return. Being thanked improves your day. It tells you that you are a worthy person, a better person, that you made the world a bit better by your own actions.
    When you are the one needing help, you are also improving the world – by allowing the one giving help to feel worthy and of use. Giving is never only a one way street.
    And, dealing with those who only take and never give back? Pity them. They will never know the joy of helping others, and they are poorer for it.

    • Hank Fox

      Dorothy:

      Thank you! That gives me a much better handle on how to look at this.

  • estraven

    I have a lot of trouble asking for help, except from my spouse. In my family, I’m the one people count on–the rock. The one people go to when they’re in trouble or need a shoulder to cry on or some help with something. The one who keeps the family together by hosting family gatherings and dinners. So to ask for help is nigh impossible for me, and it takes a toll sometimes. I don’t like to admit that I need help. I have an image to keep up, dontcha know! yeah, I know that’s stupid, but there it is.

  • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ wmdkitty

    I hate asking for help because I hate feeling like a burden.

  • SusanKPerry

    When there’s a “tribal” connection, when the person I’m helping or asking for help is part of my family, or a long time friend, or perhaps someone I’ve gotten to know online who I would like to be friends with, then I can’t see anything negative about asking for help or giving it. But it works best when you’re not asking strangers, as then you don’t know them well enough to detect signs that “enough is enough.” I like to help when it doesn’t take too long (I spent a half hour responding to a dumb telephone survey this a.m. because I remember doing that kind of work myself). I will ask for help when the helper is good at a thing (husband with computers, son with small home repairs), asking FB friends to like my page, or whatever. I don’t ask often, and perhaps too often I don’t get what I want, but that’s okay. Just be clear about what you want and put yourself in the other person’s place to determine if the favor is too big.

  • Mick

    I’ve refused help from people in the past and thought I was proving (to myself if not to anyone else) how bravely determined I was to sort things out on my own. I’ve since learned that I really annoyed the people who offered the help. A third party once took me aside and said I was a bit of an arsehole for refusing the help offered. I’d never looked at it that way before.

  • Sharon

    I think if we all ask for help more then maybe we are are actually helping someone else feel good about helping :)

  • Sharon

    “Sometimes I feel like an alien dropped down into human society, trying
    to figure out why people do what they do, what I need to do to
    understand them, or fit in.”
    I’ve thought this many times myself.

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