Which of these resiliency skills is hardest for you?
A. Thinking of something you’re grateful for.
B. Doing something kind for someone else.
C. Asking for help.
D. Looking at a problem from a different angle.
If you chose C. Asking for help, you’re not alone.
Most of us in our independence-valuing American culture have difficulty with this one.
I always thought I was good at asking for help until I ran smack-dab into an occasion when I wasn’t.
I was taking care of my late partner, Ruth, and she was at a point in her chemotherapy regimen that required someone to be with her continuously for about two weeks during and after the chemo sessions.
I was able to take the first week off from work, but I needed help the second week. Asking friends to come over and stay with her wasn’t hard. It was asking for help with bringing food for her that completely flummoxed me.
Any other kind of help I was perfectly willing to ask for. Can you come over and sit with Ruth for a few hours while I’m at work? Would you mind picking up our dry cleaning on your way over to visit us? Could you be sure to email and call Ruth consistently so she’ll remember that you’re thinking of her?
But when it came to food, I suddenly felt ashamed and embarrassed.
My friend, Noreen, is back home after an extremely long stint in the hospital and a couple of rehabilitation facilities for a life-threatening illness. I notice that she’s having a hard time asking for help now that she’s home, too.
Offers to pick up groceries, clean her house, or walk the dogs are all gently refused.
Another friend, Keila, gave me this example: She has an injured thumb and was trying to stir some peanut butter. Rather than asking her husband – who was standing right there – for help, she did it herself and hurt her thumb even further.