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How to ask for help without feeling weird

‘I Have Your Back’

Reaching out for support is a skill we’re somehow expected to know, yet it’s never taught and rarely modeled for us. When you need help -no matter the kind of help you need, or the person you need it from -to simply state “Can you help me?” can be fraught with tension.

A seemingly simple request for help can bring huge implications with it. You may have been raised in a family where asking for help, or letting others know that you need support, was considered a sign of weakness and was frowned upon for suggesting a lack of privacy regarding personal difficulties.

Asking family members, colleagues, friends, community, and partners for help may reflect a larger cultural dynamic of communication and give-and-take.

Saying, “Can you help me?” speaks powerfully to an instinctive desire to be of service to other people and to receive reciprocal attention. But “Can you help me?” also makes you vulnerable.

What I say to patients: please practice asking for help.
For many, it’s a new activity, and it feels rusty, like anything novel.  Yet, so many people have recently lost their livelihood, had physical health problems, financial hardship, and even loss of home and identity. More than ever, asking for help is an art form that we need. As a society, we don’t always have the experience to ask for help. In my belief, that needs to change, but requires self compassion and practice.

Where to start:
1. Make a list of what you need help with: particular errands, chores, some cooking, walking the dog, getting food or groceries, yard work, job recommendations, assistance with letter or email writing, changing filters, moving furniture, tech support, maybe even a shoulder to cry on.

2. Write down the names of friends, colleagues, and relatives who have offered to help in the past.

3. Match people with tasks based on their interests, their strengths, their time flexibility and your comfort level with them, given the intimacy of the particular task. One friend may really enjoy cooking, another may check in on you via regular texts, another might upgrade your computer, or walk your dog.

4. Pick just one thing off the list and contact the person you’ve chosen. Be direct. See the next few points, below.

5. I always talk about timing and dosage. If you’re not sure whether or not it is a good time, just ask. You can say, “I’ve love to ask for your help with something. Is there a time that’s good for you to talk?”

6. Don’t be defensive. Instead, say what you can’t do.
Instead of saying, “I need to add a few graphic elements for a major key point power point presentation, say, “I’m concerned a few of my slides for my seminar look terrible.” You don’t have to emphasize how ‘important’ you are. Just ask for the help that you need.

7. Show respect. Without actually saying it, you’ve already said, “You know more than I do.” You’ve said, “You can do what I can’t.” You’ve said, “You have experience (or talent or knowledge) that I don’t have.”

Learning is not diminishing yourself.

8. Show trust. You’re vulnerable. You admitted to a weakness.And you’ve shown the other person that you trust them with that knowledge. You’ve already said, “I trust you.”

9. Show you’re willing to listen. Instead of saying exactly how the other person should help you, you give them the freedom to decide.

By showing you respect and trust other people and by giving them the latitude to freely share their expertise or knowledge, you don’t just get the help you think you want. You get more.

10. Be grateful. Acknowledge the help you received. Even though you might feel embarrassed that you needed help, don’t pretend like it never happened. Directly acknowledge that you appreciate what the other person did for you.

11. Be sincere. When someone is helping you, it’s okay to be a little bit vulnerable. The other person might appreciate knowing that they are genuinely helping you during a difficult time.

12. Gain credibility by helping others. People will be more likely to agree to help you if you have been known to help others. Build a reputation as a helpful person. You will draw others to you who share that same sentiment.

On the Psychology of Superheroes

Mr. Boseman embodied the idea that anyone can be a superhero, if they choose. He played King T’Challa, a superhero and leader of Wakanda, in the film Black Panther – which was praised as a cultural milestone for having a primarily black cast and portraying women as more than equal warriors, rulers, leaders, and scientists.

His character was seen as an inspiration for young black people in particular – as Black Panther was the first high-profile black Marvel superhero, and Wakanda was a strong and thriving country with the most advanced technology on Earth. Dozens of young clients I have worked with spoke of Black Panther as a very important influence in their life. Many a time, children came into my clinic wearing a black panther mask.

As tributes pour in for Boseman, who died of cancer at age 43, many are remembering the impact that his character had on them, and their families. In addition to the Black Panther, Mr. Boseman portrayed Jackie Robinson, Justice Thurgood Marshall, and legendary singer, James Brown. He had an exceptional range. Yesterday, we learned that he was a superhero in his personal life, who had been battling a virulent form of cancer, and was quietly and diligently working on his craft and movies between treatments for over four years.

In 1977, psychologist Albert Bandura developed the theory of social learning, proposing the idea that learning occurs within a social context through both observation and direct instruction. Developmental psychologists have stated that social learning theory has applications for the way in which children develop an understanding of morals and empathy. Most famously, Bandura tested his theory using the Bobo Doll experiment, in which adults modeled violent behavior towards a doll and were then punished, rewarded or provided no consequence. Children were then observed to determine if they would replicate the behavior that they observed. At a high level of significance, they modeled the behavior they saw.

It is quite common for superheroes to be presented with the option of whether to fight or not to fight – to use their moral compass, so to speak, before making big decisions. Importantly, these moral dilemmas occur so frequently within comics they give children the opportunity to observe how their favorite role model problem-solves through ethically laden situations. Super heroes ARE role models and facilitate learning. The regal presence and grace of King T’Challa has left an impact on an entire generation of children. And adults.
#WakandaForever

Now a proud provider for the Sukhi Project

Embolden Psychology is now an official provider for the Sukhi Network in the Washington metropolitan area, and by teletherapy for the country.

A bit about the The Sukhi Project:

Asian and Asian American communities are more at risk for anxiety and depression.  Stigma, culture, and a lack of access to culturally competent providers have exacerbated the issue and lead to low utilization rates of wellness services.

Sukhi is dedicated to reducing the stigma surrounding mental distress while increasing access to support services. Their network links together many resources for the Asian and Asian American communities where mental health may have been marginalized.

And now I have the privilege of being of part of this important project.

 

 

 

 

 

Embolden Psychology
Embolden

Embolden offers the ADOS-2, the gold standard assessment for kids on the spectrum.

Combined with psychoeducational testing, it helps provide comprehensive information and recommendations to help children and teens six and up.

Thank you for contacting us.