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.” As the oldest of seven in a hyper-independent, achievement-oriented family, I had to work hard to cultivate this skill.
Since 2000 our sister company Career Strategists has supported mid to senior level professionals from around the world on 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 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 moment 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!
SEEKING SUPPORT FOR YOURSELF OR YOUR TEAM? HERE ARE TWO OPPORTUNITIES:
- Consider hiring me to create a workshop to help your team, organization or employees feel less stressed and more resilient, energized and focused. My primary work is speaking to professionals worldwide on how to find balance through practicing the art/science of self-care. Whether it’s an in-person workshop, keynote or via a Zoom session, I’d love to support your team now or in the future. Learn more here.
- Interested in an intimate, nature-based, social-distancing friendly TX one-day meditation/self-renewal retreat? Email firstname.lastname@example.org and share in the subject line “YES to TX Retreats!” to be the first to learn about new offerings.
Subscribe here to Live Inside Out, a weekly blog written by life balance author/speaker and self-care evangelist 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 and her team have certified more than 400 facilitators in 10 countries around the globe to lead self-renewal groups and women’s retreats based on her work. She’s the author of two books on life balance including the award-winning The Mother’s Guide to Self-Renewal. She lives in Austin, Texas, with her husband and 18-year-old son. More on Renee here.