Why asking for help is an act of gratitude to the world

How many times have you been in a situation where you needed help, small or large, and felt hesitation over asking for it? Even if it is offered to you freely, it can be hard to accept. I was one of those people and still find that hesitation creeping in. But I have learned so often now through my own experience and observation that actually asking for help is more of a gift than giving it. 

I always knew it felt good to give others assistance when they needed it. It felt like my small act of service could be a way to offer support when I could not change the situation for someone. A meal, an errand, help with childcare, anything that could lighten the load for another. Yet, when the tables were turned, I would do everything I could to not ask for the same help myself. A paradox indeed.

Then one day, I was sitting with a good friend talking about a recent sad event. One of his dearest friends had received a diagnosis of colon cancer in his early 40's, at the prime of his life, with two young children. It was devastating for this young man's community and knowing what to do for him felt confusing for my friend. My friend recounted that this friend and wife convened their community in a ceremonial way through an organization called Share the Care. In this gathering, they were able to communicate their fears and hopes as they navigated this troubled diagnosis. And all of their friends were also able to communicate their sadness and fears as well as their joy of being in friendship with this couple. Together, they also made a plan of how to share their tasks like childcare, cooking, cleaning the house so that the couple could focus on medical appointments. My friend conveyed to me with tears in his eyes that the greatest gift of this gathering was being included in a community to offer assistance and how grateful he was for this opportunity. That being a part of this intentional act of assisting this couple felt more like an act of service to his own heart rather to his friend. 

He was grateful to give help.

He was grateful to find a way to be of service.

I was so touched that morning talking to him that it has never left my heart. 

Since that tender moment, I have had countless opportunities with my son's diagnosis to receive help and to feel the spirit of humanity as good friends and family have supported us. It is perhaps now even more touching to me when this happens than even in the troubled grief of the first months after diagnosis. At that time, there were so many people ready to help. Like after a funeral when all the forces join in. But now years later, the forces slow down and it can feel foolish at times to ask for help. I can feel that strange hesitation creeping back in. 

And yet, every time I ask for help or just get it without asking, I feel moved deep in my heart. Yes, I feel moved. Because the giver of the assistance always thanks ME for letting them find a way to be of service. YES, THEY THANK ME! I thought I was the one who needed to say thank you but time and time again, they tell me that they have not known how to be there for me and this feels so powerful to them. Just as my friend described that morning to me years and years ago. When I ask for help, I am offering trust that this world is good and as alone as I may feel, it is there for me.

So when we ask for help, we are putting out our gratitude to the world for all it has given us and in return, we allow the world to rally around us. 

Do you see what I am saying, my friends? I am saying that the hesitation is needless. The hesitation is limiting. It is keeping us from real connection, from giving a gift to the person we reach out to. Somewhere, somehow, some of us have absorbed a message that asking for help can burden another. At least, that's the message I had to shed for myself. Now, I feel the new message deeply in my heart. I feel it deeply that when I reach out and admit I need help, I give another human being the opportunity to feel a powerful gift. I give the power of gratitude to another for supporting me. I acknowledge this gratitude, recognize it in my own heart as a gift for myself and feel all of its benefits. I am now more connected to the world around me. I am now more positive. I am now more hopeful. And when I am all of these things, I can be more open-hearted as I walk through this world. 

Turn the message on its back, upside down. It needs to be done. Reframe it to a message that asking for help is the strong, powerful and grateful way to walk through this world. It is the way to bind us in this world in a heart-centered way. 

Once we understand that our ask for support us is a way to spread gratitude and goodness, we understand more easily that we are human and that connection is vital to our happiness.

Live well,


Tanmeet SethiComment