The week before final exams my freshman year in college, my 44-year-old dad had a massive heart attack. I was devastated (as was my entire family). But what really saddens me as I look back on that rough time, was that I didn’t reach out for support. Other than sharing the news with one close friend, I kept my feelings to myself, armored up my tender heart and marched straight into my exams. I think I failed all but one of my tests. I often wish I could go back and tell my young 18-year-old self: “It’s ok, you don’t have to always hold it together. Learning to ask for help is a strength and an asset.”
For almost 20 years our sister company Career Strategists has supported mid to senior level professionals on career changes, job searches, networking and interviewing. Over the years, we’ve observed that people who are comfortable asking for and receiving help—whether that’s from a coach, a therapist, a mentor, professional organization, business partner, neighbor, friend or colleague—experience greater success and feel more connected and confident in all areas of their lives. Having a support system can have a huge impact on how you experience day-to-day life.
Research shows that individuals who have robust support systems:
- are more effective at work and at home (they feel as if they have a “team” behind them and that they’re not all alone)
- weather personal and professional challenges more easily and are less likely to feel overwhelmed and are better at maintaining perspective
- stay healthier on all levels and keep resolutions—particularly those involving mental and physical well-being
- are less likely to feel isolated (isolation can lead to feelings of despair and failure) and experience less stress and burnout
- have children who are comfortable asking for and receiving support and help from others
Learning to get comfortable asking for and receiving help takes serious practice. Even though it’s difficult for most of us, it’s in our nature to give and receive help. We are meant to experience community and connection, to lean on and into each other, not just when things get tough—but every day!
Check out Ch. 10 on Building a Support Network from my most recent book, Nurturing the Soul of Your Family, for a powerful exercise guiding you through how to build your own personal and professional support network. Then take a few minutes and explore this guided journaling exercise from this same chapter.
Building a Support System: A Journaling Exercise~Close your eyes for a minute and place one hand over the center of your chest. Take a deep breath. Observe with curiosity and compassion whatever “asking for help” stirs up for you. When you’re ready, answer the following:
- What would it look like to take the first steps toward allowing support into my life? Where do I most need help?
- How would it feel to be more supported—personally and professionally—in all areas of my life?
- How might my key relationships shift if I began to ask for and receive more support?
I challenge you this week to step out of your comfort zone and ask for help. Having a support system makes all the difference in how you experience the journey!
- Schedule me to plan/facilitate a custom workshop or retreat for your company, team or organization on work-life balance, resiliency or self-renewal. I’ve been speaking professionally for 25+ years and my clients include Fortune 500 companies, national conferences, nonprofits and organizations. Learn more and email me at workshops at reneetrudeau dot com to discuss your next event.
- Renew, replenish and recharge with like-minded women at a fall self-renewal retreat. Women who attend my retreats always leave saying, “I had no idea how much I needed that!” View all upcoming fall retreats here. Photo above: Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health, Lenox, MA.
- We’re hiring! Know an Austin-based college student or SAH mom who might want to work with our team? We have a fall women’s empowerment communications internship open (learn more). If you know an English, Journalism, PR or Communications undergrad who might be a fit, send them our way! We also have a part-time virtual communications assistant position available-ideal for a parent seeking meaningful work they can do from home.
Subscribe here to Live Inside Out, a weekly blog written by life balance coach/author/speaker and Career Strategists president Renée Peterson Trudeau. Passionate about helping men and women find balance through the art/science of self-care, her work has appeared in The New York Times, Good Housekeeping, US News & World Report, Spirituality & Health and more. She is the author of three books on life balance including the award-winning The Mother’s Guide to Self-Renewal. She lives in Austin, Texas, with her husband and 17-year-old son. More on her background here.
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