As a society, we have a healthy reverence for the virtue of self-reliance. We’re told that when life knocks you down, you dust yourself off and pick yourself up by the bootstraps.
That’s great advice and there’s a lot wisdom in that sentiment. I love the challenge of figuring something out and solving a problem myself. It’s a great feeling. But in reality there are times when you and your bootstraps aren’t enough. Sometimes you need help from other people. Here’s what you need to remember. Asking for help in times of need is wise, not weak.
It’s easy to get wrapped up in the egocentric idea that asking another person to help you is an admission of failure. I’m all to familiar with the sense of disappointment that comes with uttering the word help. It’s unsettling because it creates cognitive dissonance. You ask yourself “how can I be self-reliant if I can’t figure it out on my own?” But it’s a false choice. That sense of shame is nothing more than a fictitious narrative of your own creation. The fact is, asking for help is a sign of strength. It’s an act of courage. It complements, not contradicts, self-reliance.
Here’s the thing. You are a single, solitary, imperfect, human being. You are bound by the laws of space and time as well as the limitations of mortality. Your experiences, knowledge, perspective, abilities, and resources are all limited. Yes, you can do some amazing things all by yourself, in spite of those limitations. But the reality of this world is that other people know things you don’t know. They can do things you can’t do. They recognize and understand things that you fail to even see. What that means is they can help you avoid disaster or if need be, help you emerge from it.
We’re all going through some very tough times right now. Remember, you don’t have all the answers, and you don’t have to figure it out all by yourself. I encourage you to keep fighting, help others, be strong, and if you need it, ask for help.