In this episode, MaryAnn Walker helps listeners learn how to ask for help.
MaryAnn identifies common thoughts that hinder seeking help, such as not wanting to be a burden, fearing it signifies weakness, or seeking to prove one's capability. She emphasizes that people pleasers often suppress their own needs due to their fear of rejection or disrupting relationships, which prevents them from asking for help when they genuinely need it.
The podcast highlights a paradox where people pleasers are willing to help others but also struggle with asking for assistance themselves. This pattern can create an imbalance in relationships, limiting vulnerability and true connection. MaryAnn compares relationships to a tennis match, pointing out that the absence of reciprocal requests hampers deep connections.
She acknowledges the challenge of being rejected when asking for help, suggesting that accepting people's responses at face value can lead to healthier perspectives. MaryAnn encourages starting with small requests to rewire the brain's discomfort around seeking help and emphasizes that vulnerability, rather than being a weakness, is a courageous act that nurtures connection.
The podcast underscores the importance of clear and direct communication vs passive communication and hints which can lead to misunderstandings and resentments. MaryAnn advises making explicit requests to create balance and allow others to fulfill needs. She concludes by encouraging listeners to practice making explicit requests and recognizing the value of vulnerability in fostering meaningful relationships.
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Well, hello and welcome back. So, first I wanted to share a message that I have received permission to share and this message came from Marissa. She said, I started listening to your podcast on recommendation from a friend. I listened to your life listing one tonight and it resonated with me. I'm a single mom and I'm contemplating going back to school. school. The thought makes me want to throw up, but I really feel called to do it. Isn't that relatable? I've gone back and forth on it for a few months now and kept coming up with excuses. Tonight I spent an hour researching different universities and requested information on my top choice because of your podcast. I'm scared. But I realize I'm never going to be comfortable with the idea and it's never a good time to remodel. I just need to suck it up and do it. Thank you for the push that I needed. Thank you so much for sharing, Marissa, and I love that you just jumped right in and got some research done to bring you that much closer to your educational goals. I know firsthand the mix of emotions that can come from going back to school after a bit of a break, and I am so happy for you. Your little steps and course corrections are going to have a huge payout. I just know it. And I love how you talked about that it's just going to kind of be uncomfortable, right? Because we are going to be uncomfortable either way. but one form of discomfort is going to get you closer to your goals. So way to embrace the discomfort. All right. So I recently posted an image on Facebook that really resonated with a lot of you. The caption was somebody asking, is it hard for you to just ask for help? And then the captain said me with an image of a guy moving a couch all by himself. And so it was him on one end of the couch with an office chair on wheels. Carrying the other end of the couch. And I guess you could say it was working smarter and not harder. And also with those wheels on the other end, like I can only imagine how hard it must have been to steer that thing without losing control. Right. And it was liked and shared so many times that I figured I would do an entire episode on just asking for help with the hope of shifting some of that internal narrative to make asking something that's more normal versus taboo. So first, let's kind of explore why we don't ask for help. So I'll share a few thoughts that I have heard both in my head as well as in my coaching practice. And I want you to listen to see if these resonate with you or if something else comes up for you, just kind of use it to raise your own self awareness. So some of the thoughts you might have around asking for help are, I don't want to be a burden. If I ask for help, it means that I'm weak. They'll think I'm inadequate. If I ask for help. Or maybe it's kind of on the other side, right? I want them to think that I'm capable, so I don't want to ask for help. Or maybe the thought might be, Well, I mean, I could technically do this by myself, so I guess that means that I should do this by myself. And this is quite possibly what that guy moving the couch with the office chair as an assistant was thinking. And honestly, like, I can't get over the irony of that picture. That somebody else was taking his picture Instagram. So, because people pleasers often fear rejection, they fear being a burden or disrupting the harmony in a relationship. And because of this, their tendency is to squash their own needs. Their tendency is to ignore the fact that they have needs at all. But the truth is that they do have needs, even if they aren't vocalizing them. And ignoring those needs can lead to anger, frustration, and resentment, and all of those things negatively impact relationship. And honestly, I've seen it happen where it can even result in like a big explosion of frustration and the end of a relationship, right? So I've used this example before when it comes to acknowledging emotion, but I think it's really applicable here as well. Ignoring our own wants and wishes is like holding a beach ball. Under the water. So sure, we can pretend that the beach ball doesn't want to go to the surface for a while. It might even be fun to keep it under the water. But eventually, our arms are going to get tired and that beach ball will come to the surface. And when it does come to the surface, it might smack us in the face, or it might smack somebody else in the face, or it might fly out of the pool completely. We really have no control at that point what the ball is going to do. But if we can look at what our needs are, essentially allowing that beach ball to come to the surface and acknowledging its presence, acknowledging what is coming up for us, then we can get our needs met from a place of calm while we are still in control of what's going on. Right? So oftentimes we think that we are benefiting the relationship when we ignore our own needs. But just like the beach ball. Eventually, it's going to come to the surface. So we can choose to make the relationship sustainable by acknowledging our needs as they surface, or we can continue to resist our own needs, holding them out of the surface, and risk doing damage to ourselves or others when we eventually do lose control. Because it's kind of inevitable, right? Ignoring our personal needs, it is not a sustainable choice. So why do we resist acknowledging our own needs? Oftentimes, it's out of a fear of rejection. We are so afraid that the other person will deny our needs that we decide it is just safer to not share them at all. But what's really interesting is that if you ask a people pleaser how they respond, Fund. When somebody else tells'em that they have a need and they're requesting that their need be met, the more than likely the people pleaser will say, oh yeah, of course I can fulfill that need. That's not a problem at all. I am so happy to do it. They want to help the other person. They want to feel valued in their relationship, and they demonstrate that value by fulfilling other people's needs. So make a note of it if you have that belief in your head that other people needing you means that your value has increased in a relationship. And also note if you're making it mean that if you have a need that your value has decreased in a relationship. Notice if you are treating your needs differently than other people's needs. Notice if you are placing a disproportionate value on your showing up for them versus their willingness and ability to show up for you. Just notice it and see what's coming up for you and notice what is it that you're creating in relationship with that belief system because more than likely it's creating further imbalance. So last week, I shared an analogy of relationship being like a tennis match. And I kind of presumed that nobody would really want to be in a relationship if all of the balls were only going in one direction, leaving one person with an empty bucket. So I kind of wanted to extend this tennis analogy to asking for help. More than likely, you know exactly how it feels. To be the one with the empty bucket because that feeling is easier for most people to identify in themselves But what do you think it might be like for the other person? I want you to think for just a moment about what it must be like To be in relationship where you are the only one asking for help where you are the only one whoever asks for a ball How would that feel? And what would that be like? What must it be like to always be the one in a relationship that is expressing a vulnerability and asking for help? Because it is a vulnerability to ask for help. But guess what? It is this vulnerability that creates... Connection. When you withhold a request for help, you are limiting the level of vulnerability in a relationship and therefore limiting the level of connection that you could be experiencing. There was a story floating around social media for a while that I think I will share here, It reads, I heard my mother asking our neighbor for some salt. I asked her why she was asking them as we have salt at home, and she replied, It's because they're always asking us for things. They're poor. So I thought I'd ask something small from them so as not to burden them, but at the same time make them feel as if we need them too. That way it'll be easier for them to ask if there's anything that they might need. And I think that story really does help to illustrate what it can look like to create balance through asking and also kind of illustrates that, yeah, nobody wants to be in a relationship where the balls are only going in one direction. There are going to be times in seasons where you're maybe. giving or receiving more balls than others. And so being intentional about that and creating balance even through those seasons can be very beneficial. And I know that sometimes, you know, it might even look like inventing a need like they did in this story, right? Um, where she didn't really need salt, but asked for salt in order to help there to feel like it's a little bit more balanced in relationship. But I'm going to propose that maybe this mom could have asked for something that she truly did need from them rather than just creating the perception of reciprocated value that she could have actually put out a true vulnerability. So, for example, maybe she could ask for quality time or for meaningful conversation. Maybe she could ask for a playdate for the kids. Maybe she could have asked if they could have take turns walking the children to school. So I really can appreciate this story. It really does have some lessons in there and also taking a look at what the real needs are for both parties and taking a look at what each party has to offer the relationship outside of the material can really help to create lasting and true connection. And maybe it is hard for you to identify what your needs are in a relationship, and so you really struggle with knowing how to make a genuine request. So if this is you, come back next week. I am going to be addressing how to identify what your needs are so that you can better articulate them. But for right now, I do want to address something that I hear often in my practice. Sometimes people have asked for help and they've been denied. So maybe they've been shamed for their request. Maybe they've experienced rejection. really shut down and they're feeling a little bit too shut down and it's harder for them to actually make a request. So if this is you, let me again, refer you to the tennis match analogy from last week where someone was essentially saying, Hey, can you please throw a ball back so I can keep playing. And the other person essentially said, No, thank you. This is working for me the way it is. I really like that you're the one that sends all the balls over and I don't want to have to return any. This is working for me. And yes, it is easier to shrug off this kind of an exchange when it's an isolated incident. But oftentimes, and especially for the people pleasers, it can become a pattern. And that's when it becomes a problem. So if you see this pattern popping up for you in a relationship, please don't guilt yourself. It actually makes a lot of sense why this has been your experience, and I will tell you why. It's because this is how the people pleasers mind works. So for example, in an effort to create love and connection, the people pleaser shows up in whatever way they can for the other person. In an effort to avoid conflict at all costs, the people pleaser is less likely to speak up and advocate for themselves. In an effort to keep the peace, the people pleasers often keep their needs to themselves. In an effort to make sure the other person knows that their needs are valid, the people pleaser never makes their own needs. When a People Pleaser does make a request for help, support, or reciprocation and it's denied, it is super easy for the People Pleaser to assume that the denying of their request It's actually a denying of them as a person. This can feel like rejection, and rejection hurts. The other person might not have actually been rejecting them as a person. It could just be their perception, but regardless, this perception of rejection leads to some pretty negative emotions, right? And when somebody's feeling rejection, usually one of two things happen. Either they withdraw and self isolate, cutting off the other person completely. Or they decide to people please even more in an effort to prove their value to the other person in the hopes that then the other person will reciprocate. And so this can really kind of create a vicious cycle of burnout. And because they're constantly trying to prove their value to other people, they subconsciously are creating a disproportionate relationship that is all about what they have to offer the other person rather than what they have to offer each other. So this means that they oftentimes don't make space for the other person to show up in a relationship at all. They project out the image that they don't actually have any needs or wants, and this further exaggerates the imbalance in a relationship. So now we've created a situation where the people pleaser is seeking to create reciprocation in a relationship, but also, and at the same time, they're not actually offering up any opportunities by way of making a request for the other person to show up and create. that reciprocation. So if you find yourself in this cycle, just remember that yes, asking for help does require vulnerability. And also asking for help really does help to create deeper connections. It helps to create balance and reciprocation. And most importantly, it can help to make the relationship more sustainable for both parties. So in short, making a request is actually doing the relationship a huge. favor. And I get it. Like it can be really hard to let yourself be vulnerable and ask for help. It can feel pretty awkward and uncomfortable. And also that's kind of how our brains were created. Our brains default settings are to avoid pain and discomfort, which can mean asking for help and to seek out pleasure. So it's just kind of what our brain does. But guess what? You get to rewire your brain any way you want, and coaching can definitely help with that. So when it is hard for you to ask for help, think on this. You're going to be uncomfortable either way. You're going to be uncomfortable doing it all by yourself and doing it all alone, or you're going to be uncomfortable leaning into the discomfort of actually asking for help. There is no way around the discomfort. You're going to be uncomfortable either way. So choose in to the level of discomfort that is most likely to get you the results. that you want. Our brain wants us to believe that if we don't ask for help, that we can avoid feeling awkward and uncomfortable. We want to believe that it is easier and therefore preferable for us to remain in discomfort rather than put ourselves out there and potentially be rejected. But this is a lie that we tell ourselves. So notice that you're going to be uncomfortable either way and then choose into the discomfort that is most likely to get you the result that you want. So speaking to rejection for just a moment, I've talked a bit. Before about just believing people when they tell you or show you who they are and asking for help is a really great space to Practice this radical acceptance. So if you ask for help moving, for example, you know I just did this and somebody says that they're unavailable to help just Your brain might want you to believe that they're just saying that they're unavailable because they don't love you or they don't care about you or they just don't want to. Our brains are really, really good about making up stories. So just notice the story in your head. Notice that it is a story and then choose the story that you want to tell yourself on purpose. You will feel significantly better about both yourself and your relationship if you just believe them and just believe that they're unavailable rather than making it mean something about you. Rather than making it mean that you're somehow not worthy of their time or energy. And like, I get it. Like sometimes you practice that line of thinking for a long time, right? In some cases, your entire life you've practiced that line of thinking. of making those stories up that are not supportive for you. And so I promise you that while it can be a bit of a challenge to rewrite the narrative, you will feel so much better if you will just believe people when they tell you or show you who they are and what they are capable of investing. And you know what? It might actually be true that they just don't want to help. But even if that is true, that's about them. Please don't make it mean something negative about you. Now if you have been burned in the past, I recommend starting small with your requests to start to give your brain evidence that it is safe and okay to ask for help. And this will also help you to identify the relationships that can be more supportive for you. Because the truth is, sometimes we have certain people in our lives and we kind of have the hope and the expectation that they will show up in certain ways just because they've been around for a while, right? And they might show up and they might not. But asking them to fulfill a request and letting them show you how they are or are not willing to show up, it will give you so much valuable information. So let's talk about some small requests that you could make. And as I offer these up, just kind of notice your brain and what your brain is telling you. Notice and just kind of think about, okay, is that a request that I would be willing to make? So maybe you make a request that somebody hold the elevator or the door for you. Or maybe you ask somebody to pass the milk or maybe it's asking somebody to stir the pot of soup while you go to grab something quick or asking them if you could bump back the time of your meetup by 15 minutes. Start small and let your brain build up the evidence that it is safe and okay to ask for help and allow other people the opportunity to step up and step in for you. You've been doing this for people for a long time. Allow them the opportunity to step up and step in for you. Allow them the opportunity to add value. to the relationship. And after you've practiced making these little requests, then you can slowly increase the vulnerability over time, right? So maybe be willing to ask for advice on your team, for example, or ask for a little bit of perspective on your relationship. Be brave enough to ask about how they might choose to navigate a conflict that you're experiencing at work. Vulnerability is not a weakness. It is actually a sign of great courage. So cultivate that courage, lean into the discomfort and develop that skill. Okay, so now let's talk a little bit about communication. So communication is key. I have noticed that oftentimes people pleasers especially, they're very passive in communication. And I say this because I'm a recovering people pleaser. I totally know this. I've done this. So because people pleasers are so in tune with other people's emotions and wants and wishes, they assume that everybody else. is equally as in tune with their emotions and wants and wishes. But this isn't necessarily true. People pleasers are very in tune with those things. A lot of people just really need it explicitly stated to them. So because of this, rather than making a request for something because the people pleasers want to assume everybody's going to know what they need, then they're very passive about their communication. And so they'll just kind of hint at what it is that they want. So for example, they might say, Boy, I sure am thirsty. Or, oh, it looks like the trash is full. Or, boy, I'm really craving something cold. Or even something like, boy, it sure is a beautiful night. But these comments are not requests. The other person might assume that you're just making an observation. It is unclear that any of those statements are requests, and they may have no idea that you're actually asking if they would get you a drink of water, or asking them to take out the trash, or that you're asking them to join you for a slushy run, or inviting them to go on a sunset walk with you. These comments make your request very unclear, and unclear It's unkind because it leaves the other person constantly taking shots in the dark. And this means that their ability to actually fulfill your request is really pretty hit and miss. So when you find yourself thinking that the other person is unwilling to fulfill your request, make sure that you have actually made a request. It sounds so simple, but seriously, notice if you have actually made a request or not before you jump into that judgment of the other person. Last week in my scorekeeping episode, we talked about creating balanced reciprocation in relationship. Making requests is one of the fastest ways to get your cup filled because it brings things into everybody's awareness, right? So when you make an explicit request, it does one of two things. So first it pushes you to articulate what your need actually is, and second, it gives both parties clear information around what that need is, right? So now it's super clear to them. It gives them a yes or no as to if they can fulfill your request. So, hey, will you get me a glass of water? Sure. It makes it super clear on if they're fulfilling your request or not. It's, it's a clean place to come to in a relationship. Because maybe they are actually fulfilling 100% of our explicit requests. But we're keeping score around the 57 inexplicit requests that we made that day, or rather the 57 passive comments that we thought were explicit requests, but were actually the furthest thing from an explicit request. So be really clear in your communication. Remember that clear is kind. Unclear is unkind and it creates further imbalance in relationship. Okay, now I'm going to give you an assignment. Are you ready? And this is an easy one. I mean, it might be easy to say, it might be harder to do for some of you, but for today, I want you to make three explicit requests. Practice making explicit requests. Ask for a need to be met. So it might be something small, like asking somebody, Hey, can you please take the trash out? Or it might be something that requires a little bit more vulnerability. Like saying, Hey, I'm having a hard time. Can you please just hold me and listen for 15 minutes? I don't need you to say anything, just hold me and listen. And of course, these two things require very different levels of vulnerability, but the more you practice making explicit requests, the easier it will become for you to make those requests. And also the more evidence that you will have as to what is actually coming back to you in relationship. So again, if this is something you struggle with, come and work with me. You can learn a lot just by listening to this podcast, but seriously, I think you'll be blown away by how much we can accomplish in six weeks together. Coaching literally does rewire your brain. You'll be happier and healthier. I promise. So if you want to work with me, you can click the link in my show notes, or you can message me on social media or email me at Marianne at Marianne Walker dot life, but come and reach out to me. My schedule for September is filling up quickly. So if you would like to start with the new month, please message me on any of those platforms and let's get the ball rolling. I look forward to talking with you. All right, well, here's to a week of explicit requests. I'll talk to you soon. Bye now.