Asking for Help



I hate to ask for help.

I hate it so much and probably always have.  I am told that my first sentence was “No, me do it” which apparently is still my default mode.  I loathe asking for assistance so much that I will run myself ragged trying to “do it all” despite the fact that I have plenty of people who are delighted to pitch in.

Once again, for a smart person, I am really dumb.

Why would I not ask for help?

I need to feel independent. But, in reality, none of us are.

I need to feel wholly competent. But, instead I am sometimes partially incompetent.

I hate to inconvenience anyone. That’s ironic: I do anyway by not being able to do all that I commit myself to do.

I hate to appear vulnerable. More irony: Given the ups and downs of my life over the past few years, my invincibility cloak has long been shed.

But still, I can’t bring myself to ask for help.

So, in addition to being dumb, I am also exhausted.

Not surprisingly, according to a Harvard University study. Not only does going it alone create physical exhaustion, but cognitive exhaustion as well. In this study, one group of people were told they had to move a large box alone and another group was told they needed to move the large box but would have a partner. However, before either set of people touched the box they were asked to estimate the weight of the box.

The purpose was to see if there would be a difference between the two groups estimations.

There were. Those who were told they had to move the box alone estimated the box to be 10% heavier than those who were told they would have a partner to move it.

Now of course the box was the weight that the box was. Moving it alone or with a partner did not change the actual weight of the box, only the perception of how heavy it might be.

Just by being told someone would be there with them made the perception of the task 10% less difficult. (Well, 10% plus 50% assuming your partner carried half the weight. But you get the point. Math is hard.)

So have I learned my lesson and will I ask for help more often? Maybe. Maybe trading the discomfort of going it alone for the discomfort of having to ask is worth it.

This study is also a good reminder to let our gymnasts know that they are not alone—they have help! If we can make a task feel less difficult to a gymnast because she has support, we can ease her anxiety and fear. Reminding her that she won’t be alone on the competition floor, her teammates will be right with her. Reminding her that learning new skills is not an independent task and that her coach is there to help her along. And most importantly, reminding her that when a workout goes bad or a meet is a disaster, she can fall apart and that you will be there to help put her back together.

Finally, I want to remind all of you, parenting is not a solo pursuit; your JAG village is here to help. Making parenting 10% less difficult? I know that is well worth while! So lean on us, ask for what you need and know that we are committed to helping you create a happy, smart, strong child with good character.

And, yes, I will do the same.