Do you struggle asking for, or accepting help?Nov 28, 2022
If you’re anything like me, the idea of accepting help makes you feel physically ill. You’ll wait until you’re at rock bottom, completely overwhelmed, covered in blood, sweat and tears, dragging yourself along the ground to that finish line……..before you even admit that you need help, let alone accept it. Literally, the term “over my dead body” comes to mind. I know I’m not alone in having this attitude toward receiving help.
But when you are going through infertility, this is usually the tipping point. We can no longer do it all by ourselves, because the burden we are carrying is too large. We were at capacity before we started trying for a baby, and now we’re buried under the endless emotions, thoughts, and research.
So why do we find it so hard to ask for and accept help? Why would we rather pull our own teeth out before we put our hand up? For me, it was a couple of things.
Firstly, my control freak perfectionist tendencies come to mind. Of course, no one can do the things I do, as good as me (yes, I am well aware that I sound like an egotistical asshole). And I’ve always believed that it’s just easier and quicker to do things myself. But I’ve come to realize more recently, that done is better than perfect.
I now have a cleaner who comes once a fortnight to clean my house. Does she do the job as good as me? No. But does it matter, given the fact that the house only remains clean for 10 minutes after she walks out the door? No. (side note - it has taken me a lot of self-talk, coaching and affirmations to get to this point of acceptance?
Secondly, it makes me feel vulnerable and weak. There’s that little voice inside me that says “I should be able to do it all”. We set these impossible expectations for ourselves, based on what was modelled to us by our parents, what we read in magazines and what we see on social media. Because it looks like everyone else is coping. But maybe we’re all drowning, and just not talking about it?
One of the big reasons why we don’t like receiving or asking for help, is because we don’t want others to know that we’re not ok, and that we need help. We want to appear that we CAN do it all, that we have our shit together. Basically, we don’t want others to see that we’re struggling.
So how do we get past the outdated beliefs, the ridiculous expectations, and to the point where you can be ok with asking for help?
Let’s do a little exercise. Yes, if you’re serious about lightening the load that you’ve been carrying, so you can focus on the thing that is most important to you right now - your mental health and family creation plans, you’ll need to take action. Grab out your journal and list all the things you are responsible for in your life right now. From meal planning, writing the weekly shopping list, doing the groceries, cooking meals, laundry, taxes, paying bills, buying relatives birthday presents, looking after your pet / existing children, cleaning the house, cleaning the car, working etc etc. Yes, I could go on forever……
And finally, I’d like you to add the big one to the list - making a baby. THIS is the huge project that is pushing the scales to an unmanageable level. Not only is your body trying to create life, you also have the doctor’s appointments, the research, watching what you eat, acupuncture appointments, ordering supplements, the list goes on…….all while trying to reduce your stress.
The point of this exercise is to help you understand that you are doing SO much. And it’s not until we write it all down that it becomes something tangible, instead of the constant reminders bouncing around and around in our head. Now you can look at that list and tell that little voice in your head that tells you - you should be able to do it all yourself, to go and F-off!!
So how do you ask for help in a way that doesn’t make you feel exposed or vulnerable?
Let’s get in front of it. You can erase some of the vulnerability by deciding what you need before others offer it. When other people ask if we need help, it can make us feel a little icky – because it means they’ve noticed that we’re struggling, or it feels like a personal attack – that they’re saying you’re not doing a good job. We hate people witnessing our struggle. We don’t want the pity that comes with it.
But if you’re pro-active and organize the help first, it feels more empowering. You can ask for help, while maintaining the power in this situation.
Now that you’ve made your list, you can work out what things you can delegate. But if you’re still not sure, you can ask a friend or relative. And here’s the tricky thing. You need to be able to work it out together, without them giving you a bunch of solutions or telling you what you should do. It’s like anything, you need to think of it yourself, in order to buy into it. Very similar to a work situation – if the boss thinks it’s their idea, they’re more likely to say yes to it.
Another way to maintain the power is to determine WHO to accept help from. It needs to be someone we feel on equal footing to, and that we trust not to pity us or throw it in our faces down that track.
What if you feel guilty about asking for help?
We’re all busy, right? And who says that your problems are bigger than anyone else’s? It’s not nice to feel like you’re putting someone out or inconveniencing them.
But here’s the thing - you resisting help or declining help is actually doing a disservice to the other person. How do I get to that conclusion? Because random acts of kindness have huge benefits for the giver. A random act of kindness releases serotonin (which heals wounds and calms you down), oxytocin (boosts your immune system), dopamine (motivation, memory and pleasure) and most importantly, it releases endorphins (which increases pleasure). Not only that, acts of kindness have been found to increase happiness, improve mental health, reduce stress, anxiety and depression……and it’s linked to a longer life. So, asking for someone’s help is actually doing THEM a favor.
Now for all my people pleasers, did you know that people like you more when you ask for help? Because they feel a connection. Because it feels good to help each other, and to feel needed.
So now that you know all of this, let’s reframe it.
Asking for help isn’t putting people out. It’s making others feel needed. It’s allowing them to feel all the good endorphins that come up, with long-lasting benefits. It allows you to focus your energy on the things that are really important right now (and maintaining a clean house, or getting that project completed at work isn’t the priority). And it will reduce your stress.
Believe me when I tell you that if you ask for help, it’s a gift, not a burden.
If you’d like some practical help and guidance through your fertility journey, it’s available. You just have to reach out.
My 1:1 coaching program will take you from being buried under all the guilt, overwhelm and shame…..to feeling lighter.
From thinking that there is something wrong with you….to feeling validated and understood.
From feeling alone…..to feeling completely supported.
From feeling out of control….. to being prepared.
You can find more information HERE.
Would you like to know more about how you can work with me, so you can get back control of your life and start moving forward? My 1:1 coaching program is packed with information, tools and support. Find out how you can get on the wait list now.
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It's no secret that stress can have a negative impact on your fertility.
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