If you find yourself saying “I don’t need any help” more often than saying yes when someone offers help, then you may be the type of person who finds it easy to support others but difficult when others want to reciprocate. It is easy to mistake accepting help with weakness. In fact, accepting help helps us remember that we are all human and can’t always do it all. It reminds us that we are all vulnerable, and expressing your own vulnerability is a true act of strength.
Here are some things to keep in mind when someone offers support:
- When you accept help from others you are giving that person an opportunity to give.
- Universally, giving feels good and is a gateway to our own happiness.
- When you let someone help you also let them in and allow them to become more connected to you.
- It makes us feel purposeful and appreciated.
- Your relationships will only strengthen as you gain the ability and willingness to receive as well as to give.
In difficult times, here are some things you can say to make it easier to accept help from people:
- Right now I am overwhelmed, but I really appreciate you reaching out. Perhaps in a couple of weeks I’ll be more ready to accept your help; I know I’ll need it.
- Thank you for your offer to bring over dinner. Right now we are overloaded with food and it’s just too much. It would be wonderful if you don’t mind checking back in with me in a few weeks and I would really appreciate a dinner then.
- We don’t really eat fish. However, if you would like to make chicken, that would be wonderful.
- At this moment, we really need privacy. Please don’t take this the wrong way. I will be open to meeting for a coffee or a visit in a few weeks. Thank you so much for understanding.
What to do when the person you want to support won’t accept help?
Every now and then we encounter a situation when a friend or family member is going through a very rough time, either a death in the family or an illness, and it is difficult to lend them a hand. It is often not that they don’t want the help, it is that they are overwhelmed with the situation and emotions they are dealing with, that they can’t wrap their head around getting help. In their mind, thinking about where they need help is almost harder than accepting the help.
When you are faced with this kind of situation and you really want to support the person in need, here are some suggestions:
- Be specific in the ways you are offering to help. For instance, I’d like to bring dinner to your family this week, or can I help drive your son to soccer practices a few times?
- It is important to understand why you think they won’t accept help. Are they extremely private? Get overwhelmed easily? Too upset/grief stricken to even think straight in that moment? Feel like the support would just complicate things? Worry too much about inconveniencing others?
- Don’t take it personally. It’s not about you, it’s about them. Don’t get offended if your offer to visit with them, take over a meal, etc. is rebuffed.
- It’s okay to ask more than once and offer a few different things. But it is important not to be too pushy.
- Read the situation. If your efforts are turned down, then you can find other ways to show your support that aren’t intrusive. If you push too much you risk causing your friend/family member increased stress and it will affect your relationship. Respect their wishes.
- As an alternative, consider making a donation to a cause that’s near and dear to them or send flowers or a personal card in the mail.
By Elisa Udaskin