Why is it so hard to ask for help?https://rainasun.com/blog

Hi everyone, I'm putting together something for my newsletter and trying to develop a better understanding of why people have a hard time asking for help.

I was super reluctant to ask for help for most of my life, and here are all the things that blocked me. Let me know if any ring true for you, and I would love to hear any of your reasons.

  • Immigrant/only child complex from being alone in an unfamiliar place and you don’t see any obvious natural allies.
  • Toxic American individualism that says you should be able to figure everything out by yourself.
  • Tender ego that said you should be ashamed if you’re not good at something or if you fail. This was fed by a culture that links our worthiness (which is inherent) to our abilities (a few of which are innate, but truly most are gained through a lot of practice i.e. failing on purpose).
  • Not wanting to be a burden on anyone (see: American individualism).
  • Relatedly, fear of an obligation to reciprocate. This is premised in a transactional view of relationships, rather than one premised in generosity and interdependence.
  • Fear of asking for help and being rejected. (Rejection is gendered. Women are taught that rejection depletes their worth. Men are taught that they are not worthy until they attain the thing, so they keep trying until they get it, making them more open to rejection.)
  • Consuming gooey indie films, like Garden State and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, as a teenager, which made me romanticize my own suffering.
  • Not knowing that I could just not suffer. I carried a sometimes learned/sometimes true helplessness that’s present in a lot of cultures. There’s a Chinese expression that encapsulates this sentiment, meibanfa (“no solution”), which gets thrown around when things get tough and there seems to be no way out of it. Combine that with the American mentality that you have to keep your head down and pay your dues for a dream that will one day come true. At the extreme, we’re taught that to live is to suffer.

I want to help normalize asking for help, and am curious to hear in particular why it's challenging for you. Thanks in advance :)

iynna's profile thumbnail
Definitely feel you on not wanting to be a burden on other! And by the way I think it doesn’t have to do with individualism, I come from a society that’s not individualistic at all and still feels the same, perhaps I am the exception?For me it’s also that I have high standards for myself and I don’t trust others to deliver the same results 😥 learning to unlearn that!
wendyb's profile thumbnail
Well I’m American and have trouble asking for help. Interesting thing is that I know so many people, from a many cultures that have the same problems asking for help.I believe it is a human condition and not a cultural condition. The human condition so many struggle with is “am I enough”, their’s many flavors of that. Most humans have that underlying condition that guides everything they do, in some way.And yes, as a global society, we should normalize helping others and taking any stigma off of asking for help. It is a strength to ask for help, not a weakness
PatriciaGestoso's profile thumbnail
I have been socialized as a woman which for me means society has taught me that my worth is in helping others. It's taken me years to self-coach myself out of that misery.
laetitiadursel's profile thumbnail
I can relate to the tender ego one and would.link.it to a strong imposter syndrome and lack of trust in the support of others. So basically, I feel I tend to have issues asking for help because I feel I should actually know that thing and if I don't, I'd better hide my issue and figure it out on my own without showing to others that I "don't know" since this might get me rejected from the group / pinged as "underperforming" or worse "that I should have known this seeing my position", they won't feel comfortable relying on my for next steps and that I will be laid off eventually 😅All of this of course is based on my own insecurities, especially as I tend to display the opposite reaction to people admitting they need help, feeling impressed by how they opened up about it. One book that is helping me a lot to work on this is the one from Carol Dweck "growth mindset", really recommend it!