Dig Baton Rouge

East of the River

By Katie East

Asking for help is hard. When we are kids, help is just readily given to us. Once we hit a certain age and become a big boy or girl we take pride in no longer needing our parent’s assistance in everything. Personal independence is celebrated in this country to the advantage and detriment of the self.

Sometimes our inability to ask for help is laughed off or made into a cliché joke: Like when a man refuses to ask for directions. This always baffled me. Why take twice the amount of time to find something just because of your pride?

If I feel lost for even a second I will ask for directions. To me, immediately admitting I don’t know where I am allows me to take the power back in a situation. I think: “I can’t find where I’m going. Here’s what I can do: find someone who knows and get there faster than if I tried on my own.”

Why are we afraid to ask for help? I suppose, for some people, it’s tantamount to admitting defeat. Is this fear of being wrong or weak something that is innately inside of us as human beings or is it a learned behavior? Many of us can’t even accept help when it is offered to us even though it’s what we so desperately need.

When I ponder human behavior it inevitably leads me back to animals. In the wild, it is totally acceptable for two male lions to groom each other. One lion licks another one around the face and eyes to help his fellow lion out. Clearly, that would never go down in the human world.

“Say bro, you think you could help me reach my back with that loofa?”

Somehow, I don’t see that going down in the locker rooms at Gold’s Gym.

Why are we afraid to admit we don’t know or can’t do everything? It it is especially hard for men but remains a struggle for powerful women too.

This is why people think a woman can’t become President, because she would be considered weak for showing her emotions. Hey, just because women are more in touch with their complex emotions doesn’t mean they are weaker. In fact, it makes them stronger because they can choose to control it.

A lot of men’s emotional range consists of anger, sadness and hunger. To me, it’s much scarier to imagine a male President making a rash decision about nuclear arms based on what people will think of his prowess.

Everyone should learn how to ask for help. And yes, I think it is a learned skill that should be taught; it is just as important as learning how to become independent.

It’s important to not only know when to ask for help but how. People want to help their friends and family and if you don’t tell them how they’ll just butt in and do whatever they “think is best.”

Your friends and family are going to put in their two cents about your personal life anyway so give them something they can actually help with. You have to set your boundaries.

If you’re single you might have a nosy friend who’s always asking about your dating life. You might try saying something like: “I’m not really big into being set up right now but I could really use a wing man to come with me on some new adventures: Dance classes, Kickball league, wine tasting? You pick.”

They will jump at the chance; they want to help. Sometimes, they just don’t know how.

If you’re that friend or family member that’s always trying to help, listen to the cues on how you are needed. Don’t just try to fix everything.

While planning a wedding, I am finding a lot of people who, with best intentions, are trying to “help” where they are not needed. I have a list of about 1,000 things that need to be done. When I ask you to help with something new and you go back and try to change something that’s already done and checked off the list, you’re not helping, you’re hurting. You’re trying to control a situation and make it what you want.

Giving help can be just as important as asking for help. It’s something we all need to do and yet so little of us even know how.

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