Skip to main content

Verified by Psychology Today

Leslie Sokol
Leslie Sokol Ph.D.

Don't Be Afraid to Ask for Help

Giving and getting help benefits everyone.

An elderly woman unfamiliar with Starbucks and her moderately mentally impaired son wait in line at Starbucks. The son starts barreling his mother with questions. Both are overwhelmed with the abundance of choices and appear baffled. The coffee barrista is inundated making drinks and the cashier can barely keep up with the traffic. I offer to help and provide a lengthy discussion of the options. Without experience, ordering from Starbucks is like trying to communicate in a foreign language: tall means small, grande means medium, and vente means large.

Once I have explained all the options and their selections are decided, I place the order for them. The impaired gentleman sips his grande caramel Frappachino and munches his chocolate chip cookie with glee and turns to me and says, "Thank you so much, you are the nicest lady I have ever met." His mother also bestows an emphatic thank you and I leave with a giant smile on my face.

Who gained the most in this transaction? Although it is true that the individuals asking for help gained the information they sought and the satisfaction with their purchase, the greater gain was on the part of the giver. I as the giver gained the most. A rush of positive feelings enveloped me and new energy found its way into my steps. I gained the satisfaction of knowing I helped someone which gave me the opportunity to feel good about myself. I would have liked to thank them for their gift of allowing me the chance to help.

Think back to the times you may have helped out another person. How did it make you feel? What did you gain? We often lose site of the big picture when we get caught up in our own microscopic views of things. When it comes to asking for help, we can get in our own way. Instead of seeing that we are giving others an opportunity to feel good about themselves, we think incorrectly that asking for help means we are a burden.

We also get in our own way when we make asking for help mean something about us when it doesn't. We may think asking for help means we are weak, inadequate, less desirable, helpless, inferior, or any other derogatory label that comes to mind. The reality is that asking for help does not indicate anything about us; it simply means we need help in a specific situation at a specific time. It is not a reflection of our character, intelligence, competence, or desirability. It is actually a sign of strength and wisdom to seek out help when you need it. Next time you need help have the confidence to ask for it knowing that it can truly benefit you both. Everybody gains! Keep in mind the giver is gaining a boost to their confidence knowing they are a good person and the good feelings that come from that and the recipient gets the help they need.

About the Author
Leslie Sokol

Leslie Sokol,Ph.D., a licensed psychologist, is the co-author of Think Confident, Be Confident.

More from Leslie Sokol Ph.D.
More from Psychology Today
More from Leslie Sokol Ph.D.
More from Psychology Today