Asking for help is difficult, or at least is for me. I don’t want to be a burden on anyone. Nor do I like the feeling of something being beyond my control or ability.
This past month or so, I’ve been in charge of planning a retirement party for a few coworkers of mine. They are good friends and leaving on the same day. Add to that neither wanting to be the center of attention and a joint party seemed to be the way to go. Once I got a theme, with the help of a coworker who brainstormed with me, the pieces seemed to click into place.
Shopping, however, has proven to be the most difficult part of this task. Ordinarily getting away from my desk and out of the office would be a perk of my job. With my nagging shoulder issues, however, I have to second guess the way I grab items from the shelf and try to steer the shopping cart with one hand.
Both times after shopping, I’ve had to ask for coworkers to help me unload. Both times, the ask has killed me. Truth be told, I should not have even gone to the store without another set of hands.
We all have work to do and it seems like a trivial ask. I don’t want to explain my shoulder issue, because I so easily cross that line into whining. If I don’t, however, I’m just afraid they will think I’m lazy.
I pride myself on what I can do, so I don’t want to be defined by my limitations. Sure I’m proud of my racing and display my medals at work for the first few months after earning them. But also I like being physically strong. I can still recall the feeling of being able to lift the 5 gallon water jug onto the cooler for the first time. I forced my brother-in-law to pause for a picture when I helped him unload their dryer when they last moved.
I feel the need to reiterate: I don’t like asking for help. I particularly hate it when it comes to a task I could ordinarily do with my eyes closed.
Jay often helps unload the groceries; heck these days he’s the one who goes to the store. But I’m definitely team load up bags on my arms for the least amount of the trips possible.
Asking for help with what would amount to no more than three trips seems ridiculous. But I appreciate the guys who have helped me far more than they could know.
Why is asking hard? Probably because people might say no. In other areas of life, I’ve actually had someone laugh at my request. The fear of that moment is greater than my fear of retweaking my shoulder.
Asking is also difficult because there are those people. The ones who never seem to tire of asking. Some people truly are just lazy. You know the kind: only interested in taking, never giving. Being lumped into a group with this people is horrifying.
When someone asks for help, please be careful how you respond. I won’t tell you to never say no. Sometimes yes just isn’t possible. What I would encourage you to do, however, is to take their request seriously. Unless you know them otherwise, assume they had difficulty with the ask.
Also please hear me when I say, if the person is an abuser or manipulative, put up whatever boundaries you need to protect you.
Otherwise, listen to the request with kindness and patience. I know those both can be in short supply. Love your neighbor. And when someone asks you to help them with their burden, don’t just carry it a mile. Go with them that extra mile if you can.