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Why asking for help makes us happier

Main Line Health July 30, 2015 Wellness Articles By Paula Durlofsky, PhD

Asking for help is more difficult for some than it is for others. Being able to acknowledge that we need help and then asking for it has been shown to greatly improve our degree of happiness. This is mainly because asking for and getting the help we need from others deepens our relationships, and having closer and more satisfying relationships makes us happier people.

When we share our burdens, struggles, and problems, we create intimacy and greater intimacy leads to more harmonious relationships, it broadens our social support network, and decreases our feelings of feeling alone in our struggles.

And we ask for help we communicate to others that while we may not have all the answers, we are willing to seek them out and find solutions to our problems and by doing so we develop a genuine sense of personal empowerment and emotional growth.

So, why would anyone choose to not ask for help if it can make them happier? One of the biggest obstacles people face is the fear of appearing and being vulnerable. When we are vulnerable, we expose ourselves to the possibility of being emotionally attacked. Others fear their requests will fall on deaf ears and believe no one will give them the help that they need. Some people do not want to appear as though they are not in control of the situation, and this concern prevents them from reaching out to get the help they need.

Despite our reluctance to reach out for help, and whatever the reason may be, it is important to improve our "asking for help" skills, especially since we are happier when we get the help we need.

Below are five tips to help you get the help you need:

  1. Start out with a simple request-if you are concerned about being disappointed by others, begin by asking for help with smaller problems. This will give you practice with asking for help without making you feel vulnerable.
  2. Have a realistic expectation of the kind of help you are looking for.
  3. People can offer their help but they may not be able to solve your entire problem.
  4. Express what it is you need help with in a clear and concise way. Let others know you are there to help them as well.
  5. Give a big "Thank You" to those who have helped you.

Dr. Paula Durlofsky is a psychologist in private practice in Bryn Mawr, whose practice focuses on psychological issues affecting individuals, couples, and families. She is affiliated with Bryn Mawr Hospital and Lankenau Medical Center.