The Simple Practice of Asking for Support

It’s not always easy to ask for support with the things we need.

When a friend, family member, or teammate comes to us asking for help, we’re quick to offer it. And after helping someone out, we always feel good.

Yet still, we hesitate to ask for help from others, holding onto stories in our mind like:

  • “I don’t want to bother them, or burden them with my challenges.”
  • “I’m being selfish if I ask for help.”
  • “They might see me as weak if I share this with them.”

Oftentimes, these stories prevent us from reaching out to get the support we’d benefit from. Which holds us back from showing up at our best. And it also prevents us from experiencing deeper, more fulfilled relationships.

Trying to build meaningful relationships without authenticity, honesty, and vulnerability is like trying to make a salad without leafy greens and dressing. (It’s not gonna happen!)

Being quarantined during COVID-19 is the perfect environment to strengthen our asking-for-support muscles.

So, regardless of how you’re feeling as you read this—even if you’re feeling AMAZING (!!)—let’s take the opportunity to practice this skill.

It might feel weird at first. For some of us, it might feel downright painful! But that discomfort is what Phil Stutz calls a “reverse indicator”. It’s not a sign that something is going wrong, it’s a sign that you’re on the right path—existing your comfort zone and moving in the direction of your growth.

Here’s the practice:

  1. Take a moment to get grounded. If your energy is up/anxious/frantic, take some long, slow, deep breaths–in through the nose and deep into the diaphragm. If your energy is low/lethargic/apathetic, take 5 minutes to move your body! Get your heart rate up with some jumping jacks, burpees, a jog around the block, etc. 
  2. Drop out of your head and into your body. Check-in with the physical sensations present in your body.
  3. Identify a challenge, an opportunity, or an unmet need that you could use support with. If you’re really honest with yourself, what’s one thing you know you’d benefit from getting a little help or support with? It’s 100% okay if it feels silly, or embarrassing, or not-that-big-of-a-deal. Don’t overthink it here, just go with what comes up.
  4. Think of one person you know who could provide that support to you. Again, don’t overthink it. Trust your gut.
  5. Make a request to them for support with your challenge. Right now! Ideally by giving them a call on the phone. But sending a text, voice note, or email also works.
  6. Celebrate the act of following through. This is less about the specific situation of your challenge and more about the meta-skill of checking-in + identifying + requesting. By practicing it over time, you’ll find yourself doing it more readily + easily. Which means you’ll be feeling better-supported, more often. And you’ll be giving the nourishment of authenticity, honesty, and vulnerability to your relationships.

It’s true that you can overextend this practice. Every good thing has a place where you go too far with it.

But most of us are so far from going too far in asking for support, that we’d benefit from actively practicing this skill. (Myself included. 🙂)

We also want to practice non-attachment when making our requests to others. Since we can’t control whether or not the person we reach out to will be willing or able to provide the support we’re looking for, let’s hold the request like an invitation to a party. If someone is unable to make it, it’s not about you or your party, it’s about their life situation and choices. You can always invite someone else.

So…take a moment to get grounded, check-in with yourself, and identify an area you could benefit from support. Then give yourself the gift of requesting it!

Lots of love,