The Art of Asking for Help

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“I slowly realized that asking for help doesn’t mean you’re weak or incompetent.  On the contrary it empowers you, widens your network, improves your collaborating and interpersonal skills, and simply makes your life better.”

Not a lot of people know this, but until very recently I had been experiencing recurring anxiety and/or panic attacks.  I would break down into tears for a couple hours, unable to function like my normal self, which always resulted in binge watching Netflix for the rest of the day in an attempt to recharge and feel better.

These attacks had been happening since my university days and possibly even way back during high school but at a much lower frequency.  I didn’t think it was a problem then since school was very stressful thus was dubbed the obvious cause.  It wasn’t until I had finally moved out of my parents’ house with my then fiancé when the panic attacks started happening much more frequently and for no apparent reason.  Little did I know that these attacks could have been prevented if I had simply asked for help.

I had always considered myself a lone wolf when it came to my work.  Don’t get me wrong, I love hanging out with friends and family and I enjoy working in teams and collaborating professionally.  But I equally enjoy my alone time.  It’s a satisfying and almost meditative feeling being “in my zone” and if I ever had a problem, I’d do my best to figure it out by myself before reaching out for help.  I still can’t pinpoint exactly why I avoid asking for help.  It’s probably a combination of my competitive nature, my tendency to be in control of all aspects of my life, and a fear of being perceived as incompetent or weak.  Working this way was not working well for me and the frequency of my anxiety attacks heightened even more with the additional responsibility of wedding planning.

That was until I finally asked for professional help.  I had been toying with the idea of speaking with a counselor about my attacks for months.  But I kept thinking, “My life is wonderful!  Why the heck do I need counseling?  I do not want to be the basic, typical poor-little-rich-girl who has everything in life yet is unhappy.”  I eventually ignored the stigma and set up phone counseling sessions through my employee assistance program.  And it was life changing.

Among other lessons, the sessions opened my eyes to the importance and impact of asking for help.  I bit the bullet and began seeking help in specific aspects of my life.  At home, I’d ask my husband to help me with chores.  With my wedding planning, I put my bridesmaids and even my own mother to work.  At work, I got the courage to ask my colleagues and manager for help when I needed it.  Even for my workouts, I signed up for an easy-to-follow kick boxing circuit so I didn’t have to think about what workout to do on what day. I slowly realized that asking for help doesn’t mean you’re weak or incompetent.  On the contrary it empowers you, widens your network, improves your collaborating and interpersonal skills, and simply makes your life better.

If you’re an ambitious, competitive overachiever like myself, you may tend to work on your own because you want your success and accomplishments to truly be your own.  But I highly recommend you swallow your pride and try this thing called “asking for help”. You might find your world open up and bring more opportunities your way.

I can’t say I’ve mastered The Art of Asking for Help.  But it’s definitely a work in progress 🙂

❤ Isabel

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