Asking for help. How do we learn to let in positive support and encouragement?

Sometimes finding support can be so simple, you wonder afterwards why you waited so long to seek it…

why so hard to ask for helpI started attending the Walsenburg Women’s Growing Circle a couple weeks ago. This is a warm and friendly sharing group with emotional support and some guided meditation. That then opened up a great new opportunity in Helen’s tough but wonderful yoga class at the Washington Underground. I find the women in this group and my new class so much more warm and welcoming than those I have spent the past few years with in a La Veta class. I find that I often made some of my best friends in exercise classes, and it looks like this class will be no exception. So I feel so much more optimistic about solving my two main problems here: a great environment for balance and strengthening exercises, and making new friends.

This brought up again a problem I have always had, asking for help from others. This issue is magnified five hundred percent in the new memoir: Educated. She also suffered from an extreme fear of asking for help, to the point of not even asking for medical assistance with a broken ankle. I would say I spent the first few years of counseling in my thirties working on my fear of asking for assistance from anyone.

So, you might ask, what’s the big deal about just asking. When we ask for help we make ourselves vulnerable. When I was a young woman, there was no feeling I hated more than feeling vulnerable. The times I had made myself vulnerable had been so painful and disappointing. I certainly wasn’t willing to trust enough to ask again. Just the act of going to a counselor for help took me until my early thirties, even though I liked the idea of it and desperately needed it. Note the paragraph or so in Educated: A Memoir, where Tara finally tells her story to a woman at the university counseling center:

“I didn’t understand it then, and I don’t understand it now, but there was something nourishing in setting aside that time each week, in the act of admitting that I needed something I could not provide for myself.”  — pg. 316

I see now how lucky I was in my early thirties to find the best therapist for me, one who I could finally trust and in that way learn how trust works in human relationships. Re-parenting therapy is powerful stuff if you find the right therapist and then take the necessary time and energy to experience it fully.

asking for helpAnd now I know I would have never been able to trust enough to fall in love again at age 49 if I hadn’t worked so hard at accepting my need for the healthy help of others, and allowing some vulnerability into my life back then. Going it alone is always an option. Just make certain you are doing it as an empowering choice, and not out of anger and future fear of betrayal.

7 thoughts on “Asking for help. How do we learn to let in positive support and encouragement?

  1. Great post and great advice. I almost made the decision to go solo at 46 because I was just fed up with looking and hoping. Serendipity led me to keep my dating profile up and message this guy… who is now my husband 🙂


  2. I was inspired to visit by Sightings Over Sixty. I have always been independent minded and reluctant to accept help if offered let along ask for it. After all, I am the helper, not the helpee. However, recently I was in a position where I simply had to admit I needed help. And my friend thanked me for asking for her help! I could see she was genuinely pleased to be able to help and I realized it can be a gift to another to accept her help.


    • Great Olga! I forgot to mention in my piece that I did my counseling internship in a rehab facility and wrote my MA thesis on how aging teaches us that sooner or later we WILL NEED TO ASK FOR HELP! We might as well get used to it…


  3. I just finished texting a friend to ask if she could take and pick me up next week for my colonoscopy/endoscopy. While I don’t have a problem asking… I’m glad I don’t have to do it very often.


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