As women, many of us have been socialized to always give to others first, and to put ourselves at the bottom of the list. We may have come to believe that we are selfish if and when we do something for ourselves, such as having a massage, going for a walk on our own, or taking time to journal each morning. Guilt and negative feelings often result from this. We may find it challenging to accept compliments and often deflect or make light of them.
If you are the one others typically come to for support, you may view asking for support as a weakness. You may worry that this will change how people see and value you. After all you are a strong, capable women who has all the answers. Don’t you?
When you constantly give and do for others without taking time for yourself what are the costs? Giving, in and of itself, is a good thing. We feel positive to be helping and supporting others; however if we are out of balance in our giving, over time we may become resentful and SOoo tired because we are giving to everyone else, and not taking time for and nourishing ourselves.
What if we as women recognized the importance of reaching out for and accepting support? What if every time someone gave us a compliment we were able to stay in our bodies, acknowledge and mindfully receive the positive message we were being given? What would that look and feel like?
What if we integrated regular self-care and nurturing into our lives such as regular walks in nature, yoga, journaling, regularly connecting with girl friends, and felt like we deserved this, and that it was essential to our overall health and well being. The reality is, doing so makes us much more responsive, less reactive, more fun to be around, and more present with those we care about.
Did you know that to change a health behavior, we not only need knowledge, skills and motivation; we also need social support. That is, support from others to change a behavior and integrate it into our lives so it becomes a healthy habit. There is a lot of research to show that the more social support people have, the more preventive health actions they take.
When people give support we feel good inside. And when we receive support our bodies produce oxytocin, the bonding hormone. Research shows that oxytocin has a number of positive physical and psychological benefits from enhancing trust, self-esteem, optimism and feelings of mastery to reducing blood pressure, gut inflammation and stress.
I recently facilitated a workshop where I shared a model and positive actions women can take to embrace and learn from life transitions, and reduce the stress associated with major life changes. The need to share was huge, and just knowing that others were facing or had faced similar issues and challenges created openness, understanding and support within the group.
So how can you feel more comfortable asking for and accepting support from others? From my own journey and work with others, I find it easiest to take baby steps. Initially reach out and ask for support for something small. It could be asking a friend or colleague for a drive to an event during a particularly busy week, or asking your partner to do the dishes when you’ve prepared the dinner.
So the next time you’re feeling tired and would like some help, think of who you may reach out to and ask them for support. Notice how it feels. Often when we ask others for support, they feel honored that we did (as long as we don’t do this on a frequent and ongoing basis J).
I invite you to try reaching out and asking for support and notice how you feel and how others respond. I welcome your comments and shares below. Feel free to share this with others who you think might benefit.
“Social support means having friends and other people, including family, to turn to in times of need or crisis to give you a broader focus and positive self-image. Social support enhances quality of life and provides a buffer against adverse life events.” –https://www.takingcharge.csh.umn.edu/social-support
I don’t tend to reach out, for two reasons. My list of contact people is getting shorter, as we all age. Also, they are becoming needier for the same reason. So I do tend to rely on myself more often. However, I have had enough weaker moments that I recognize in myself the need to focus on my own needs. I am fortunate to have regular outlets I can depend upon for peace of mind.
Hi Cynthia, I appreciate your openness and the reasons you stated why you don’t tend to reach out. It is challenging when friends are “needy”. Good for you to have regular outlets that help bring you “peace of mind”. Thanks for sharing. Pam
Love this post Pam. It’s one of my biggest challenges. I have lifelong lessons of having to take care of myself and not rely on others. And while I know how important it is to ask for support, I still find it challenging. Thanks for this powerful reminder that success doesn’t happen without support.
Hi Minette, Thanks for sharing your experience with this. I SOoo understand. It is and has been a challenge for many of us. Happy you found the post helpful. Warm Regards, Pam
Boy did I have a hard time with this lesson… and when it came? It came hard. It came in the form of someone telling me that “giving without receiving” can be an extreme form of arrogance. Ouch. I’ll take the help, thank you very much! Good post.
The older I get the more I reach out to others. I have also made it a point to model this behavior for younger people. Thank you for this. Good one.
Hi Iyabo, Good for you! Some of us become older and wiser :). That’s great that you make a point of modelling this for younger people. Appreciate you sharing your thoughts. Warm Hugs, Pam
I’m always good at serving but not so good at asking for help. This is a great message that we need to hear over and over! Thank you for the reminder! <3
Hi Sheila, Indeed many of us are good at giving and serving but not so good at asking for help. Happy you found the post useful. Warm Hugs, Pam
I only reach out when there is absolutely no other way out, or when I am too scared to face something alone, which doesn’t happen often. I guess asking for help is not in my DNA. Supporting people who need my help in business is courtesy and respect for them, and I expect the same from them. But that’s about the only kind of reaching out I am ready to do. I’d probably be a good candidate for your workshops? 🙂
Hi Mihaela, I appreciate your openness. It is one of the attributes of High Achieving Women I share in my book “Learning to Dance with Life”. The “dance” is to try to balance our “giving” and “receiving” rather than over-giving and not having anything left to give to ourselves or to anyone else. Would love to have you in one of my groups :). Warm Regards, Pam
Pam, love how this post encourages us to reach out for support when we need it. I’ve been learning how to admit to others how I’m feeling. It feels good to feel understood. Thanks also for highlighting that we need social support to change health habits. That’s a huge insight!
Hi Lea, Thanks for your thoughtful feedback. Am happy you gained some insight from the post. Warm Regards, Pam
This is great! the post was very helpful.
Hello Jacob, Happy you found the post helpful. I appreciate your positive feedback.