Even though I’ve probably heard the quote “You can’t pour from an empty cup” a thousand times, I find it more and more applicable to my life as I get older.
I can admit: over-extending myself was my toxic trait.
And the more women I talked to, the more I realized I wasn’t alone- despite being at different stages of their lives (married, unmarried, kids, no kids, younger, older)- we all had that in common.
It left me wondering: why are we so quick to run to a charger when our phones are at 2%, but when we need to recharge, we don’t act with the same urgency?
That’s where self-care comes in.
And no, I’m not talking about the bath bombs, manicures, and retail therapy- we’re going deeper.
The self-care practice no one talks about?
Asking for help. (including taking help when it’s offered)
I did a ton of self-reflection in the last year and took notice of how often I actually turned down help.
Then, following that awareness, I realized this habit was a form of self-betrayal– not the fact that I wasn’t creating boundaries with other people, but I wasn’t creating and respecting boundaries for myself.
When you create boundaries for yourself, you’re listening to your needs and then honoring them. That’s what true self-care is.
When I wasn’t asking for help, I was inadvertently ignoring my needs.
Here’s a list of personal examples, see if you can identify with any of them:
- When you’re setting up for a dinner or a party and someone offers to help- do you find yourself saying “Oh no don’t worry about it! I got it!”?
- When you look at your to-do list and notice something on there that someone else (spouse, coworker, friend, child) can help you with, but you refuse to mention it to them because you don’t want to inconvenience/burden them?
- Do you sometimes tell yourself that if another person does a task (or helps you with it) they won’t do it right so you might as well do it yourself? (Dismissing the fact that there is probably one small thing they can do to make your task less stressful?)
- Do you sometimes decline help when someone asks, but then later do the task with resentment (maybe even glaring at the back of your partner’s head while doing it as if you have laser shooter eyes?)
- Or how about at work- do you often tell yourself you rather do it on your own than put your pride aside and ask someone for a hand?
- Have you chosen to blindly navigate through something you don’t understand instead of asking, at the risk of looking stupid?
- Have you enthusiastically said “Yes!” to too many things, reached your limit, and then needed assistance with the workload but guilted yourself into doing it all by yourself because you said yes initially?
If you said yes to any of these, you’re probably thinking to yourself:
Why are we like this??
In short, most of us were raised to be the:
“Independent woman”- we’re taught to:
- Be strong
- Take care of ourselves
- Depend on no one
We were also raised to be an “ambitious woman”:
- Want more. Do more. Be more.
- Keep pushing. Take on more roles, titles, responsibilities- you can do it!
& then the “nurturing woman””
- Care for and help others
- Be selfless
- Give. And ask for nothing in return!
- Be a mother, daughter, sister, wife, boss, friend- be everything to everyone
- Carry our own baggage and help others with theirs
Because we were raised to be these things, it programmed us to feel weak and uncomfortable when we ask for help.
But what happens when we get past that uneasy feeling of asking for help?
These are the things that changed for me when I started asking:
- I became more in touch with my own intuition, inner voice, and moral compass
- I became a better decision-maker (questioned my decisions less)
- I gained more self-respect and self-confidence
- I acquired more time for myself and other things *I* wanted to do
- I felt more deserving of things
- I became less resentful
- I felt less stressed/overwhelmed
- Asking for help allowed other people to give me the gift of giving (something I so freely do for others)
- I made deeper friendships/relationships (because I realized that people really do wanna help!)
Ways to Ask for Help
- Can you give me a hand with this?
- Could you help me for a second?
- Can I ask a favor?
- I can’t manage. Can you help?
- Actually yes, I would love your help.
- Give me a hand with this, will you?
- Could you spare a moment?
- I need some help, please.
- Do you have any free time on __/at ___ (day, date, time)?
- Do you know anything about ___?
- I am having a problem with ___. Do you think you can help me?
- If you don’t mind, I could really use your assistance with ____.
- Is there any chance you have time to ____.
- Could you please explain to me ____?
- Can you show me how to ____.
- If you don’t mind, I really need your help with ____.
- I know you’re good at/with ____, and I could really use some help.
What NOT to do when asking for help:
- Continuously apologize (“I’m so sorry to ask you for this, but…” “It’s terrible that I have to ask.” “I really should be able to do it myself, and I know you are so busy.” “I just really hate myself for asking.”)
- Use disclaimers (“I’m not normally the type that asks for help…” “I wouldn’t ask you if I had a choice…” “I hate having to ask you for this…”)
- Emphasize how much the other person will love helping you (“You’re gonna love it! It’s gonna be so much fun!”)
- Try to make the favor seem insignificant (“Could you drop these contracts off at Suzy’s? It’s practically on your way home.” Or “Would you add these updates to the folders? It probably won’t take you more than five minutes.”)
- Remind people that they owe you (“Remember that time I helped you move?”)
- Express gratitude!
Studies have shown that “individuals underestimate the likelihood that someone will help them by as much as 50%, meaning that people are far more willing to help than we may assume.”– Do NOT be afraid to ask!
Asking for help is like a muscle-the more you use it, the stronger it gets.
Remember ladies, we were programmed to feel uncomfortable when asking. But the reality is- asking for help isn’t a sign of weakness. It’s actually a sign of strength, because it means you’re self-assured enough to know when you need to call for reinforcements.
It’s strength because you know what you need, and you’re allowing others to give it to you.
It’s strength because you’re making yourself a priority.
I challenge you to ask for help this week in any way, shape, or form- and then pay attention to how you feel afterwards.
Remember that self-care is not an expense- it’s an investment.
And when you invest in yourself, you overflow your cup– allowing your cup to be full while filling other cups, simultaneously.
It all starts with you.
If you loved this post, you’d love my [Period Productivity: How to Use Your Menstrual Cycle as a Productivity Tool] post!