Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Asking is not Begging

When to ask for help, when to accept help, and when to say ‘no’ to help. These are cross-roads we are all faced with in the path of life.

            The child within us would always like to get help. When I was very young I was watching a movie that was taking place in the 1930’s. A man’s family was hungry and cold, it was Christmas and there were no toys for the children. Help was offered and he turned it down. The narrator explained that he was too proud to accept charity.

            I did not understand this. I reasoned that if you wanted something and it was offered to you, then you should take it. Issues can be so simple to a child. They can seem simple because a child does not have the experience of life that teaches how to balance living in society with being an individual, which teaches there are costs other than monetary that have to be considered.

            These issues are seldom black and white, in spite of what we hear every day during an election year. Be this as it may, what are the options to consider when we, as TBI sufferers, are offered or need help?

            Pride, or as it is known in the modern vernacular, self-worth, is a valuable commodity. It does not injure your pride to ask for help when you need it. People are only too happy to assist most of the time, especially with small projects that are not overly time consuming. Asking is not begging. Helping another human being is its own reward. That is as long as it is voluntary. I would cross the line if I went from simply asking for assistance to demanding it. If I demand help I degrade myself as well as the person I’m asking. If I say “you have to help me because…” I am obligating them to assist me. If they agree to assist me they become my servant.

            I am explaining all this to illustrate that there is nothing wrong with asking for assistance when you need it. Some people have trouble asking for help because it seems like they are begging or that they are showing some personal failure because they are not an island unto themselves. Refusing to ask for help when it is obviously necessary only makes you and others miserable. The “and others” is a critical point here. I can’t impress how foolish you look to others when you obviously could use some assistance and you just won’t ask for it or allow them to help.

            However, getting help can be like taking a drug. It is fine if you need it, but it can easily be abused. It can become easier to get help than to do something yourself. It is easy to drift into the habit of always getting assistance. In the end this only makes you weaker. In order to maintain some semblance of self worth you begin to deceive yourself into thinking you need all the help you take and that you have it harder than others.

            This leads to self-loathing, when you loath yourself you can only loath others. This is no way to live your life.

            The magic of life is that you have absolute authority over so much of your world. You divide things into what you need and what you want. You decide when enough is enough.


  1. I have had to learn to ask for help. The hardest part of learning to ask for help is the vulnerability. Before my brain injury, I thought I could do everything for myself. It is humbling to admit that I cannot.

    I am adding a link to your blog from mine. I hope that is okay. This is a post I wrote way back when on this topic:


  2. When does a person ask too much? If a person with a brain injury asks and lacks the self-awareness to cue him that he should not only pay for gasoline, but pay for the person's time as well? Knowing that the person has a brain injury as well as myself, I try to kindly "cue" him that a 2 hour drive costs money. Of course after the 8th time doing it, he remembers. If the request actually inconveniences the person who he is asking, how should those who were asked respond?

    Situation: An ABI'er is abrasive; he asks a fellow survivor for a ride to a fund raising event. The fellow survivor is employed and the ABI'er is not. A boundary is been given by the employed survivor's employer that the employed survivor cannot transport anyone on company time. The ABI'er is told that under no circumstance can she transport him on company time. The ABI'er takes offense and starts flaming the employer on Face Book not accepting the decision. The employer sees this flaming and bans the original ABI'er from services of any kind.

    The ABI'er has just about killed his opportunities of a ride about anywhere due to his sarcasm and inappropriate behavior.

    So, the pot is calling the kettle BLACK. I know that a person can learn to control their behavior, but this person insists on being abrasive.