From Dr. Wayne Baker: Welcome back contributing columnist Terry Gallagher, who last week wrote our first series of columns on how we approach death in America. Here is Terry’s first column in a new series …
Why do so many of us find it so hard to ask for help, even when we need it?
Most of us are more than willing to help others when we see a need, but most of us balk at asking for help when we could truly use a little.
In March at the Daily Good website, writer Sallie Felton asked, “Why is it we’re eager to help others but not ask for what we need?” (Click the screenshot, at right, to read her entire column, which continues to draw reader interaction at that website months after she raised the question.)
In her original column, she lists 11 potential reasons, including the natural reluctance to be a burden, to appear weak, to seem less than perfectly able to handle the challenges we face.
That kind of thinking runs deep.
In his comprehensive and groundbreaking research, Our Values founder Wayne Baker has identified “self-reliance” as one of the strongest held of American core values. In a 2011 OurValues column, Dr. Baker wrote: “In four national surveys I conducted over the past two years, over 85 percent of Americans say they would rather depend on themselves than on others. Like it or not, individualism is coded in America’s DNA.”
One of the 11 reasons Felton cites is the fear that, if you ask for help, you might feel obligated to reciprocate, to help in return.
Maybe we’re cheating ourselves both ways, first by spurning the help we need, and then by rejecting the opportunity to become more deeply connected with each other by accepting favors, and by doing them in return.
Are you hesitant to ask for help?
Do you feel obligated to others when you do favors?
Among people you know, what’s the biggest reason people don’t ask for assistance?
Please, add a comment below, and …
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(Originally published at readthespirit.com, an online magazine covering spirituality, religion, interfaith and cross-cultural issues.)