Asking and accepting help

Last week I shared with you the post in which Charli Mills acknowledged that the Carrot Ranch was in Crisis. She admitted that, although she doesn’t like to ask for help, she needed it. She explained not only the type of help she required, but also the ways in which she is able to help others. I know many of you popped over to the Carrot Ranch to read Charli’s story and lend a helping hand. I sincerely thank you for doing so.

Difficulty in asking for help is something from which many of us suffer. The reasons are probably quite complex and may differ depending on the circumstance; for example, we may not:

  • wish to inconvenience others
  • consider ourselves worthy, there are always others with greater need
  • know who or how to ask
  • wish to admit that we can’t do it on our own, that we’re not perfect, not coping, or can’t do it all.

We may:

  • fear rejection
  • or fear making our vulnerabilities obvious when we had tried so hard to obscure them.

Of course, once one asks for help, then one must be prepared to accept kindness from others. Again, this is not always easy.

Susan Bruck who blogs at To Wonder at Beauty admitted as much in her recent post Appreciating kindness — the Practice of Gratitude.

Susan says, “I used to feel that I had to do everything myself.  I never thought I was perfect, but I wanted other people to think I was.” She says that she needed to learn how to accept that making mistakes was a part of life.

In the post, Susan shares some quotes from Brené Brown’s book The Gifts of Imperfection: Let go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are, including this one:

“One of the greatest barriers to connection is the cultural importance we place on “going it alone.” Somehow we’ve come to equate success with not needing anyone. Many of us are willing to extend a helping hand, but we’re very reluctant to reach out for help when we need it ourselves. It’s as if we’ve divided the world into “those who offer help” and “those who need help.” The truth is that we are both.”

Barbara Vitelli who blogs at Book Club Mom also confessed her reluctance to ask for help in a post entitled The Art of Asking, using the title of  Amanda Palmer’s book, which she reviews. Although the title appealed for its “self-help” potential, Barbara considers herself to have been misled as it is “mostly a memoir about Palmer’s performance and music career.” I guess this demonstrates, in part, that admitting help is required, if only to oneself, doesn’t always bring forth the assistance required. We need to know where to look and who to ask.

Barbara alerted me to a  TED talk by Palmer about the art of asking.

Palmer talks about her time as a street performer, then as a musician when she asked her fans for a place to sleep, for food, and for musicians to support her performances. She talks about making her music available for free, and explains the difference between making people pay, and asking people to pay. My son-in-law has been telling me about this concept for some time as he uses it for music he performs and purchases.

Three other organisations that do something similar by requesting financial support rather than payment by subscription are Wikipedia, The Conversation, and Brain Pickings . I’m sure there are others but these ones came immediately to mind.

Launching soon - readilearn2

As readilearn, my website of early childhood teaching resources, moves ever so slowly towards launch day, these ideas have got me thinking about my decision to go with a subscription model. My intention is that some resources will be available free to registered users, but the majority will be available through an annual subscription of $25.

I’m not about to change my mind, but I wonder how well it would work if I was to ask users to pay on an honour system, as others do. Of course I don’t have a following like Palmer’s fan base, or a readership to match Wikipedia. How useful others will consider my resources is yet unknown.

It will be impossible for me to ensure that users of my site don’t share with others or keep resources after their subscription expires. It’s just the way it is in the digital world, and with teachers. I know that. In this way I am already placing a certain amount of trust in people’s sense of fairness. I hope they consider my price fair, and that they will treat me fairly in return.

It is an interesting concept. It is often said that you only get what you pay for. If you don’t have to pay, will you? Everybody loves to get something for nothing, don’t they? It would be interesting to be able to compare two similar (small) projects, one with a set price, one with an honour system.

What do you think? Do you find it easy to ask for help, or are you in the reluctant boat? Have you ever put your hand out and asked for help? Have you used an honour system of payment, either in a project of your own, or when using the products of someone else? Do you consider, as Palmer does, that the honour system of payment is similar to asking for help?

Thank you

Thank you for reading. I appreciate your feedback. Please share your thoughts.

25 thoughts on “Asking and accepting help

  1. Bec Colvin

    Hi Nor, Thanks for the fascinating post. I also like the idea of asking for payment, and while it does evidently work (as you mention Glenn has found!) perhaps it’s a gamble when it’s a primary income that is being ‘asked’ for, rather than additional income.

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  2. Pingback: Home is where the start is | Norah Colvin

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  4. ellenbest24

    Hi Nora, difficult one, I would ask if my plight impacted on another such as a dependants, siblings, parents etc. But if it was mine and mine alone I probably would be of the mind that, I got myself in a pickle and wouldnt ask.
    My problem is wanting to help but not monetarily able. We sponser three children in India and my wonderful husb has had to say enough. We do this until they leave education completely, leave the home or unfortunately die. So the amounts increace depending on if they are in college (one is) HIV, tuberculosis and leprocy need medication (one is) ? This means I want to have a need to help, rescue, assist, but can’t. In turn it makes me feel bad. My problem but the way I am.

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    1. Norah Post author

      Thanks for joining in the conversation, Ellen. It’s interesting that we are able to ask for help for others more readily than for ourselves. It’s as if the asking is okay as it’s for others; which it is of course. But it is okay to ask for ourselves as well. Sometimes the pickles we find ourselves in are not of our making, and I’ve been in a few that I may have made myself, but I’ve needed help getting out.
      How wonderful that you sponsor three children in India. I must admit that I have made a decision about where I will place my sponsorship dollars. When I was working full-time I used to spread it around to a number of organisations that asked for help. Now that my income is reduced I am concentrating my dollars in a few areas, focusing on children and education, with an occasional donation elsewhere. It is a decision we have to make, so I definitely agree. I don’t think you should feel bad. There is not one of us who can, or is expected to, support the world on our own. There are others who join in to share the load. You are certainly making your contribution. It’s a wonderful way you are: caring for others. Thank you. 🙂

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  5. Sacha Black

    I’m in the not liking to ask for help camp. I am very independent and I struggle not to see it as a weakness. I know ITS NOT weak at all. If anything it’s jolly sensible. We aren’t superheroes and we can’t do everything alone. But knowing that doesn’t make it any easier for me to ask for help.

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    1. Norah Post author

      I think most of us have expressed a similar opinion as yours. We do our best to hide any cracks. What cracks? I don’t have any cracks! Thanks for joining in the conversation. 🙂

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  6. Hugh's Views and News

    I don’t and have never liked asking for help, Norah. Maybe it’s being male that makes me think I shouldn’t be asking? It’s like asking for directions. I seem to rather spend much more time being lost than asking somebody for the directions. However, on the other side of the coin, I’m always ready to help a family member or friend who asks for help. To top it all, if I find out that somebody needs help and they never asked, I usually say “if it were me in this position, you’d have wanted me to ask you for help, wouldn’t you?” Maybe I should take my own advice and open up when I need help with something?

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    1. Norah Post author

      That’s interesting, Hugh. I wonder is it a male thing. Seems like most women don’t like asking for help either. Funny you mention asking for directions. That’s one men are notoriously bad at. So it’s true then? I’ve also noticed that men don’t always like to be given directions!
      It’s great to know that you are always willing to help out, but I think you’ve given yourself some good advice there. Maybe you should take it!
      Thanks for reading and joining in the conversation. 🙂

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  7. Gulara

    So many amazing resources, Norah. I loved this post! For many years, I really struggled to ask not just for help, for anything really, including for what I want. In fact, I was so out of habit that I hardly knew what I want! I was too busy guessing what others wanted and trying to give it to them. Having children really turned this around for me. I tried to do it by myself for a few months, but it was unsustainable, I was fried a lot and in the end I had to learn how to ask for help, somewhat the hard way. I’m getting better and it’s an ongoing practice. Thank you for your thoughts and sharing your wisdom.

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    1. Norah Post author

      Thank you, Gulara. I think in expressing your own feelings you have identified similar in many of us, and made that connection. If only we could ask for help before we got “fried”. Parenting is difficult and it is great that you did finally ask for help. Some don’t, and the entire family suffers as a consequence. It definitely takes practice to ask for help; but it takes awareness that help is needed too.
      Thanks for sharing. 🙂

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  8. Annecdotist

    Interesting and well researched as ever. Regarding not setting a price, I don’t know how reliable the evidence is, but I’m sure I came across something about restaurants that asked people to pay what they thought the meal was worth finding people handed over more than they would have done with a set price. I suppose it makes us feel in control to decide for ourselves and there’s a warm glow whenever we’re able to be generous.
    On the issue of asking for help, I think it’s very much influenced by our previous experiences and, as with lots of personality traits, goes right back to early infancy. The first time we ask for help is through crying as a baby, and how that has been responded to impacts significantly on how secure we feel in ourselves. Some of us can only (or at least more easily) experience help through giving rather than receiving.

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    1. Norah Post author

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Anne. That was an interesting result for the restaurant. It’s a wonder it doesn’t happen more often if that’s the case. I guess we pay more because we don’t want to appear mean. I must admit though, that I don’t like the idea of tipping. It’s not common here in Australia. I hope that means that the employees are paid fairly. It did seem to be expected quite often by eating places in London, but they would suggest an amount to tip, or leave it the diner’s discretion. I understand that tipping is expected in the US so I’ll have to be ready for that when I visit there in a few weeks. As an Aussie who’s not used to this special payment “of choice”, I feel a bit uncomfortable with it.
      So much of our behaviour is determined by those early years, isn’t it? Years over which we have no control. It doesn’t seem fair. Just as well there are psychologists to help us work our way through it! I agree that it is sometimes easier to give that accept help. I guess each time someone gives though, there must be someone to receive!

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  9. Prior-2001

    well I have MANY thoughts on this topic – and sadly – I am leaving – so I will keep it brief (maybe that is not so sad – ha!)
    but I think that a laborer is worth their wage and fees for things are ok – and can be very appropriate. I also taught art for free for a few years – my outreach to a certain population while I was finishing up an advanced degree….
    anyhow, in the third year I charged for supplies….
    but I learned first hand that free is not always the gift you think it is….
    and an appropriate fee can be very win-win – and sometimes sliding scales are doable for things to really reach out with….
    not sure how this would apply to your website and annual fees – hm – but I do know that this can be done in certain ways – and best wishes for figuring it out.
    one more side note – a local church was offering a program and they said when it was free – nobody respected the diploma. When they charged one hundred bucks – people respected it more….

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    1. Norah Post author

      Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts, particularly when you are leaving. Where are you going? I hope it’s not far. (Have I missed something?)
      Your point about value and cost, whether free or paid for, is valid. We do tend, I think, to value things we have had to work for. If it’s free sometimes it feels as if it has no value.
      I’m concerned about what may be another little hitch in my website at the moment which may throw another spanner in the works. I’m hoping not. I really don’t want to rethink the whole thing again.
      I very much appreciate your input. Thank you. Enjoy your travels. 🙂

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      1. Prior-2001

        Hi N – well actually I was juts leaving for some appointments – but we are taking a trip this weekend for my mother n laws wedding – I will likely post about it when we come back – and thanks for asking!
        Also -tomorrow I will try and see if I have those books I was telling u about – 😉
        And maybe u can get some ads put up on the site?
        Oh I dunno – so not my area- hmmmm
        Ttys

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        1. Norah Post author

          Hi Yvette. Thank you for bringing me up to date. I hope the wedding on the weekend goes well.
          I look forward to seeing the books you mentioned.
          I’m not sure about ads on my site. I’d like to be ad-free. But it is something to consider. Thank you for your thoughts. 🙂

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          1. Prior-2001

            – well just my opinion – but I never mind ads – and have come to respect the ones that have some in the sidebar or footer – i see it as smart and even win-win!
            However – I hate the pop up ones – or the ads that have hard to find “x” to close the ad – I leave and never return! So some ads are very bad – but others can be in very good taste -IMO
            Ok – i looked over the books and only saved two gems- there might be more in one bin in attic – but for now found these two – I will take some photos of pages and email you next week – ok?
            Only two
            Pages on food –
            But the other book had seasonal arts and crafts that might have a few things worth perusing –
            Ttys

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            1. Norah Post author

              Thank you so much, Yvette. You are very thoughtful. I appreciate your efforts. I look forward to receiving the ideas. Please don’t go to a lot of effort though. Just what you are comfortable with. (I wouldn’t like to put you out.)
              I appreciate your thoughts about ads. I agree with you about the the pop-up ones and those with difficult-to-find xs. I will keep your thoughts in mind as things progress.

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  10. Susan Scott

    This is a lovely post Norah thank you. I’ll go back and read the links at a later stage. And listen to Joe Cocker! Brené Brown’s quote is lovely. Isn’t it a funny thing about asking for help? For me, I think the fear of rejection is the most real one even though I know in my heart of hearts that friends would willingly help if I asked. But still –

    Also, tricky re forms of payment … the ideal of an honour payment is one I would like to adhere to, but that could put people into some sort of conflict – perhaps they would prefer to have a fixed amount. Or, if they were offered to pay what they could afford if the price was too high. I think one has to believe that people would be honest and would not be ‘grabbing’ –

    Thank you again! 🙂

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    1. Norah Post author

      Thank you for popping by to read and comment, Susan. I very much appreciate that you have added your thoughts. Fear of rejection is a big one for me too. But so is the thought of inconveniencing others, and then not being in a position to help back.
      The payment issue is tricky. I like to believe in people’s honesty too. Feeling trust in others and trusted by them is very important.
      Thank you. Have a great week. 🙂

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