Sometimes on the internet – whether in someone’s blog, or on a social networking site, or even via e-mail – someone will post something that at first blush comes across as a cry for attention.  Something about an emotional problem, a health issue, financial troubles, or whatever.  I know that my first reaction is something akin to “Whoa!  Put that dirty laundry back where it belongs!”  Often, this is followed by a feeling that the person is looking for attention; an act which I generally equate with weakness.  Oh yes, the high and mighty me.

I started thinking about this knee-jerk reaction the last time it happened.  Might I not, also, wish for some friendly feedback or caring support at a time when I was feeling physically or emotionally low?  Why yes.  Yes, I might.  But how to get that feedback, if no one knows about your situation?

And that’s the catch 22.  It affects us in our lives, and is a problem in many a relationship.  We simply cannot read one another’s minds, but we are reluctant to communicate our needs, for fear of seeming weak.

But really, how is it weak to ask for help if you need it?  EVERYONE needs help sometimes.  EVE.  RY.  ONE.  If your kid needs help with his math homework, does that make him weak?  If your mother needs help reaching an ingredient on the top shelf, is she weak?  If your grandmother is dying of cancer and needs help, do you consider her weak?  Physically, maybe, but not in more negative sense of the word. 

And I think that is a big fear that people have.  They don’t want to seem weak.

And that’s all well and good…except for those times when you need to ask for help.  Because if you need help but refuse to ask for it out of fear of how it will make you appear…doesn’t that make you weak?  Not acting in your best interests out of fear?  My good friend Webster includes, among his definitions of “weak”, this one:  ‘lacking in force, potency, or efficacy; impotent, ineffectual, or inadequate.’  Ouch! 

Last year, a friend and I made a joint resolution to ask for help when we needed it.  What do you think happened?  That’s right.  I was weak.  I did not exercise that resolution once.

This year, I will work on that one.  While I still feel that there is a fine line between asking for help and asking for pity, it’s important enough that we should all take the risk.  After all, would you rather allow yourself to be vulnerable, and to get the help you need?  Or would you just prefer to remain, silent, stoic, and weak?

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