Why is it so hard to ask for help? Part 1

When I moved permanently to England in 2011 after marrying my husband, I was in a situation where I had no earthly possessions.  I literally moved here with the clothes in my bags, all the books I could carry, my kindle and my laptop.  Because I had not planned on emigrating (I had come to England on holiday during my adult gap year and met my husband, fell in love and proceeded to make England my new home) I was completely unprepared.  I moved into his house which he had been living in for about 12 years at the time.  Everything in the house was his, furniture, curtains, glasses, bedding, you name it, everything!  After I settled in, I set about trying to make an income.   Living in South Africa I had my own successful personal development training and coaching business.  I also worked as a Relationship Counsellor and I figured that it would be easy to just set up shop here and do the same thing.  But, I never knew how hard it would actually be. I had to overcome the culture shock, you would think that settling into a country that speaks the same language as you, would be easy, but to my surprise there was nothing easy about it.

A couple of months into our marriage, I was still not making money, I had no clients and I had spent all my savings.  I felt awful, with no money I was unable to contribute to our household expenses and having very strong feelings of ‘people sponging off of others or the government’ I was at my wit’s end.  I also felt embarrassed, ashamed and vulnerable, it felt awful.  I was home alone all day for days on end, trying like crazy to change my financial situation around.  My husband had this massive big beer mug filled with coins which he kept under the kitchen sink. Whenever he came home he would empty his pockets and put all the coins into that mug.  Having run out of money and not wanting to be seen as not contributing, I would take money out of that mug to buy bread and milk and other stuff.  It was so embarrassing going to the shop and paying for things with a handful of coins and I got into the habit of going to different shops and then always saying something like do you mind if I pay you with coins? They ever so heavy in my purse, as if coins were less valuable than notes.

Anyway it got to the point where my husband started noticing that coins were getting less and less and he asked me about it.  I was very defensive with my response saying “well you never give me any money, I am here all alone every day with no money!” I proceeded to rant on about having no clients and how hard it all was and “how did he think I was supposed to pay for things I needed without an income or any money.”  We got into a bit of a fight with me very very angry with him for not asking me if I needed anything.  In my mind I was thinking, ‘how the heck can he be so inconsiderate as to assume that everything is just okay, how did he not even wonder about how I actually paid for things.  How could he not even be interested in knowing?’

After my little rant, he promptly replied and said ‘all you had to do was ask’.  Which I replied to, ‘why the heck should I have to ask?’ Oh the humiliation of having to ask, did he not get that?

One thing I have learnt about men (and people in general I suppose) over the years as a Relationship Coach / Therapist is that men are not mind readers, you have to come right out and ask them for what you want.  Because women tend to be more observant in seeing what others need, we expect men to behave the same way we do.  What makes it even more difficult to ask for what you want is if you had a bad experience as a child.  I recall getting responses like ‘don’t ask me for money as I don’t have any’; or ‘no I can’t afford it’; ‘if you want money, figure out how to make it’.  We all grew up (well people from my era anyway) with these random pre-programmed answers our parents had for us.  They thought that it was the way to help a child become independent, little did they know that it actually set you up for thinking that if you asked, that there was something wrong with you, that you were stupid because you did not know how to do it on your own or make your own money.  I recall one thing my mom said that really left a huge impact on me and that was ‘you should know better’, how does a 5, 6, 7, or even 15 year old ‘know better’.  How does a child know better other than to ask, children are meant to ask, parents are there to teach us, to mentor and guide us.  Even in schools, I recall teachers treating you very unkindly and with a lot of impatience if you dared ask them for help, or they would say no and accuse you  of not paying attention!

Instead of these ‘canned’ responses we got growing up, wouldn’t it have been amazing if our parents knew better then and replied instead with a ‘that is a great question, I don’t know the answer but how about we find out.’ or ‘I would love to give you some money, but I don’t have any, how about we figure out how you can earn some.’

To be continued….. part 2 of this blog will be up tomorrow.

 

 

2 thoughts on “Why is it so hard to ask for help? Part 1

  • Thanks for sharing your story. My wife and I went through a similar experience moving across the United States. Asking always hurts.
    One thing we do with our kids when they ask for something that we absolutely cannot afford is to make them an offer to pay them for chores and help them budget and save for the toy. I hope this gives them affirmation while still teaching financial responsibility.

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