How to Get Help When You Can’t Ask
By Jacey Eckhart
Have you ever needed help during a Next Door Project but could not make yourself ask?
During one deployment, I really, really needed help. I was pregnant with our third child, experiencing morning sickness all day long, and, well, kind of falling down in a faint from time to time. Copious vomiting does that to people.
I wasn’t having trouble getting help because I was an idiot. I was having trouble because I could not just walk into Target and buy support right next to the maximum strength bras and industrial strength panties. Believe me, I tried.
I could not bear to call someone up and ask her to pick up my kids from swim team. Or babysit so I could get to the doctor. Or feed me during the three minutes a day I was not vomiting.
Partly it was me and my heinous pride. I did not want to be a burden. I did not want to look pathetic or weak, especially when I was pathetic, weak, and, of course, visibly green. I could not risk the shame of having someone tell me no or give me a lame excuse and make me feel even worse than before I asked.
Then I discovered the magic word that made help miraculously appear.
Not “please.” That’s a good magic word, and it works most of the time.
The magic word was “HOW.” How do I find a babysitter around here? How would you find a carpool for swim team? How did you manage meals during your pregnancy?
Sometimes people told me how and their ideas were even better than mine. Even better than that, sometimes the “HOW” sparked an unprompted desire in the other person to help me. I think it was because the word “HOW” implies that you are trying to help yourself.
It’s kind of like that bit Chris Rock does about driving his broken-down car: “When I stood there trying to flag someone down, nobody stopped. But when I pushed my own car, other drivers would get out and push with me. If you want help, help yourself—people like to see that.”
You deserve a little help during your Next Door Project, not only because you are going through something big, but also because you are the kind of person who would be happy to help other people. So this week, purposely try the magic word “HOW.” Followed by the other magic words “PLEASE” and “THANK YOU.” Because people do, in fact, like to see that—and help you on your way down the hall to your Next Door.