by Andrea M. Darcy
Are you the type who does everything by yourself? And even if it leaves you exhausted, never ask for help? Because it just seems easier somehow not to?
Never allowing support can be a form of self-sabotage. And if you feel guilty or scared to ask for help, then there will be psychological issues behind it that need dealing with.
*note that this is an article about being an ‘overdoer’. If you are actually in need of support emotionally or mentally and find it hard to ask, we advice you instead read our article on asking for support.
The dangers of going it alone
Yes, independence is a positive trait when it comes to making a living, finances, taking care of ourselves, and getting a job we are skilled at done.
But it’s not so great if we are constantly applying it to all our relationships, from work to our love life and family. If we insist on doing everything ourselves we are left physically and also mentally exhausted.
And going through a hard time and not reaching out for help raises your chance of developing depression or anxiety disorder.
The benefits of asking for support
To understand why we all need help now and then, it can help to remind ourselves of how we benefit from support.
On a practical level, asking for help means you:
Not convinced? You’ll also stand to make more money. A study published in Harvard business review found that lawyers delegating work to associates allowed them to earn 20% more than they would have otherwise, and even up to 50% in some cases.
On an emotional and psychological level, help and support means you:
Why am I unable to ask for help?
photo by: Mimi Thian
If asking for help makes you feel anxious or fearful, then it can be related to bigger issues like the following.
1. You are an overgiver.
Do you simply prefer to give then receive?
Perhaps on a certain level you think over-giving is what you have to do to be a ‘good’ person. This comes from a misguided belief you have to ‘earn’ love, instead of deserving it just for being who you are.
2. You are codependent.
Do you feel that you can’t ask your partner or friend for help as they have problems and ‘need’ you?
Being codependent means you form your sense of worth around what others think. You win love by taking care of people, at the high cost of hiding and never meeting your own needs.
3. You are trapped in the victim mindset.
Feel you never ask for help because ‘nobody ever helps me, I have to struggle all alone’?
The victim mentality doesn’t let you ask for help, as then you’d have to give up the ‘poor me’ story and see your own personal power to make things happen.
4. You are counterdependent.
Do you see asking for help as weak and foolish?
Counterdependents are the opposite of codependents, with a mantra of ‘I don’t need people’. You come across as aloof, mysterious, and hard to know. But deep down you are lonely.
5. You have trust issues.
Does everyone just let you down?
Sometimes we never ask for help as we truly believe, “You can’t trust anyone, ever”.
6. You have intimacy issues.
Does asking for help leave you feeling trapped?
If you have intimacy issues, people getting too close makes you nervous and uncomfortable. Of course it does. It involves allowing others to see your vulnerability, and the real you under the front you’ve constructed.
7. You have low self-esteem.
Struggle to see how anyone would want to help you?
Low self-esteem leaves us thinking we simply aren’t good enough to deserve someone else’s time and energy.
8. Your limiting beliefs don’t let you ask for help.
Do you secretly think you are supposed to suffer?
Limiting beliefs are hidden assumptions we take on board as children, then mistake for truth and carry into our adult life, making choices to prove them ‘right’. A limiting belief that you are a bad person or deserve to suffer means you can’t ask for help, or you’d prove your own belief wrong.
[Want to know how to ask for help without feeling anxious or making a mess of it? Sign up to our blog now to receive an alert when we publish our connected article, ‘How to Ask For Help’.]
9. Your inner critic always stops you asking.
Does the very idea of asking for support leave you mired in shame?
Some of us simply have a voice in our head always putting us down and criticising us. Asking for help would be weak and pathetic! If you were smart enough you could do this yourself!
We think the voice is right, and who we are, when more often than not it’s the voice of a critical parent or caregiver we have internalised and carried into adulthood.
A study from a university in Israel, published in the Journal of Social & Clinical Psychology, found that self-criticism was a leading factor for relationship difficulties, particularly if linked to childhood emotional abuse.
Why am I the type who is too independent?
We certainly aren’t born too independent. An infant has a natural instinct to ask for help, reaching out and screaming for assistance.
If we are too independent it is because our childhood experiences and environments taught us it was unsafe or unapproved of to ask to get our needs met.
This can be because we had a parent who was unable or unwilling to offer unconditional love and support. We learn to please others in order to receive attention, or to be quiet and good and make few demands.
Adverse childhood experiences (ACE’s) or childhood trauma, such as neglect and sexual abuse, are also common causes.
Abuse in particular can decimate a child’s sense of worth and identity, and leave you with very negative core beliefs. If left unhealed, neglect and trauma can lead to being an adult who feels so worthless, they even feel they are beyond help.
Can therapy help me if I am too independent?
It’s hard for someone who never asks for help to then reach out and book a session with a talk therapist. But on the other hand, therapy is a professional relationship. Reminding yourself you are paying for the experience can make it feel less threatening.
And once you are in therapy, finally experiencing what it’s like to be supported and championed, you can get a taste for just how good help feels. Your therapist can then work with you to grow your confidence to get your needs met in all areas of your life.
Time to finally get the help and support you secretly long for? We offer highly experienced therapists in Central London. Not in London? Use our booking site to find a registered therapist near you. Not even in the UK? We also provide internet therapy you can do from anywhere.
Want to share your story, or have a question about asking for help? Use the comment box below. All comments moderated to protect our readers.
Andrea M. Darcy is the lead writer and editor of this blog. She has studied person-centred counselling and coaching, and is definitely the independent type. Find her @am_darcy