How to Ask for the Support You Need

How to Ask for the Support You Need

Why is asking for help so hard? There are numerous reasons, but to continue to thrive in recovery and in life overall, it’s essential to recognize when to seek out the support you need. This is a learned skill that not only gives you vital reinforcement during critical times, but also strengthens relationship bonds—especially when you feel confident to help others, too. Let’s take a closer look at how it might work for you. 

Asking for Help Isn’t a Sign of Weakness 

At some point, in a quest to make us more self-sufficient, we were probably told that we needed to handle everything ourselves. 

In fact, in an article for Scientific American, psychologists Kayla Good and Alex Shaw reveal study results that children as young as age 7 “begin to connect asking for help with looking incompetent in front of others. At some point, every child struggles in the classroom. But if they are afraid to ask for help because their classmates are watching, learning will suffer.” Their solution? Parents and teachers should work together to demonstrate that asking for help is “socially desirable” and “praise kids for seeking assistance.” Good and Shaw believe that over time, these actions would send a signal that “other people value a willingness to ask for aid and that seeking help is part of a path to success.”

Nemours Children’s Health points to other issues that teens experience, including:

  • Believing they don’t deserve help or support
  • Being afraid to speak up
  • Waiting for another person to make the first move
  • Simply giving up too easily 

Do any of these factors resonate with you as an adult? The organization states that “because it can be hard to reach out for help, don’t hesitate to reach out and offer support to another person if you think he or she needs it. Giving and receiving help are great life skills to learn. They help us learn character qualities like empathy and generosity, as well as understand other people better.” 

If any of the above points are bits of advice you wish you had growing up, there’s no reason why it can’t be put into practice now. 

How to Ask for the Support You Need

Maybe you’re really struggling adjusting to real life after treatment. Or you feel shadows of burnout edging into recovery and want to stop it. Perhaps there’s another issue that you’re grappling with that you’d like help to resolve. Don’t hesitate to reach out to someone you trust: a family member, close friend, a 12-Step sponsor or another peer support group member, or a spiritual advisor. Action for Happiness reports that our “brain functioning is hard-wired for love and compassion.” 

So, when you’re in need, here are some ways to approach someone who can help.

  • Be direct and specific. Say something like, “I’m going through a tough time right now, and I could really use someone to talk to. Can we set aside some time to chat later today?”
  • Express your feelings and needs. It’s okay to be honest with a statement such as, “I’ve been feeling overwhelmed lately, and I could use some support. Would you mind listening to me vent for a bit?”
  • Offer context and explanation. Give them an opportunity to take an active listening role and determine how much more they can provide. For example, when you say, “I’ve been struggling with [specific issue], and I’m finding it hard to cope on my own. Would you be able to offer some advice or just lend an ear?” you enable them to be more receptive to your needs in a way that works for both of you. 
  • Suggest concrete ways for support. If you’re in need of something more, state that upfront: “I’m feeling really stressed about [specific task or situation]. Do you think you could help me brainstorm some solutions, or maybe assist me with [specific task or situation]?”
  • Express gratitude and appreciation. Before your request, try “I wanted to reach out and say how much I appreciate your support in the past. Right now, I could really use someone to lean on. Would you be willing to offer some guidance or encouragement?” And after they’ve provided the support, be sincere with your thankfulness. 

By being open and honest about your needs, you allow others to offer assistance and strengthen your connections with them. Additionally, being specific about what kind of support matters in the moment makes it easier for others to provide meaningful help.

Find More Support Through Willingway’s Continuing Care

For clients of our Georgia and Florida addiction rehabilitation locations, we offer many points of connection so you feel there’s always someone to turn to during pivotal life moments. For example, former participants have access to the CaredFor app and various alumni programs. We also offer continuing care community groups, available to people all over the Southeast, so you expand your community of support—and provide others with a valuable lifeline, too.