Asking for Help


As we grow up, one of the biggest changes we experience is that we are more capable and independent. We get better at doing things ourselves. But as we become more independent and self-sufficient, we still need to know when we should try to manage or solve things on our own and when to reach out for help from others.

Asking for help is a matter of finding the proper balance. On the one hand when faced with a challenge, there is definite value in sometimes trying to figure out how to master it yourself. Think about something like putting together a puzzle or solving a math problem. If you can work it out yourself with some time and effort you will very likely learn more and also have a sense of accomplishment. But let’s say the puzzle has thousands of pieces or you missed school for a day when the math topic was taught and you need to get the problem done for homework. What then?

Here are a couple of questions to consider when thinking about when to ask for help:

  • Is there a way I can try to figure this out/solve the problem/deal with the challenge myself? Let’s go back to the math problem. If you have most of what you need to try figuring it out, understand what you are missing and have a good chance of finding the information in your text or online, then it makes sense to try it yourself.
  • Can you begin to figure out an approach to solving the challenge? Let’s say you had a disagreement with a friend and you’ve had similar disagreements with another friend and were able to sort it out and make it right. It might be reasonable to try the same thing you did this time too.
  • Is this a challenge or problem that can reasonably be handled alone? If your parent asks you to move something in the house that is not too heavy, then it is reasonable to do it yourself. If they ask you to move something that weighs a hundred pounds you will probably need help from a friend (or two).
  • How much time or urgency is there to solve the problem? Even if you might be able to do it yourself, if it will take too long or needs to be handled right away, help makes sense.

You probably realize that we make the choices around when to ask for help all of the time without thinking about it. But if you stop to consider how you make these decisions when they come up, there are some sensible principles that most of us use.

When you are not sure, you can use these questions to help you decide if it makes sense to ask for help. Keep in mind that as you get older and become more independent oftentimes life becomes more complex – often in a good way! But that complexity also forces us to understand even more when it is good and appropriate to ask for help or assistance. It’s good to be able to rely on yourself to get things done but sometimes it really makes good sense to ask for help – try to find a balance that works for you!

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